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If There Is Only One God Why Are There So Many Religions?

Friday, 09 August 2019 / Published in Articles, Praghosa Dasa / 10,002 views

By Praghosa Dasa

At a recent public lecture I attended the speaker was asked the above question by a respectable Muslim lady. Her full question was; given that we all believe in God, why are there so many different religions? While the speaker understood exactly what she was asking he diverted for a moment to suggest that unfortunately we do not all believe in God. Rather there is a significant and powerful lobby making extensive propaganda that Gods existence is a fallacy, a myth and that this lobby go under the banner of atheists (against theists). On a broader note the whole area of recording religious history is most interesting.

As the saying goes: “history is but a set of lies commonly agreed on by historians” In relation to religious historians this issue is even more acute, primarily because of the almost blanket ban on accepting any religious history that is not based on sense perception. The so-called ‘enlightenment consensus’ strictly adhere to their rule that nothing beyond gross matter and three dimensional space can be recorded. In reality this means that the enlightenment consensus lobby generally dismiss every other source of information and in the case of the vedic version it is dismissed as mythology. Sir William Jones the renowned lawyer, linguist and philologist while having some appreciation for India was unfortunately scathing about the beliefs and pramana system of the vedas. He referred to them as charming but fictitious embellishments and mockingly wrote about Bhisma being born of Mother Ganga and Bhima being born of the wind etc. His jocular presentations of these factual realities was both intended to, and ultimately achieved, such pastimes being tagged as mythological. A tag that remains as strong now as it has ever been.

As a result to this very day it is far easier to have an atheistic presentation of the origin of the universe accepted than it is to have a theistic presentation accepted.

As devotees and followers of Srila Prabhupada this is of course unfortunate, if not painful, as we know how seriously Prabhupada was about defeating the atheistic scientific grip that our society is held in. Of course while taking it seriously Prabhupada always took the opportunity to expose the paucity of the atheistic scientific presentation with humour:

“His [Darwins] ancestors may have been monkeys but mine were not.”

After the diversion the speaker returned to answering the main question and referred to the fact that absolute truth is always God made whereas religion is often man made and such man made religion is not supported by sastra:

“In the age of Kali, godless civilizations will create so many so-called religious societies in which the Personality of Godhead will be directly or indirectly defied”
SB 1.16.20 purport

God and religion has often been used for ulterior motives, indeed there are some interesting and long lasting examples of this. While the protestant reformation movement in the middle ages was by and large fuelled by the lack of purity of the mainstream church in Rome, there were some exceptions. One such exception was the creation of what we now know today to be the Anglican Church. Without getting into the entire history of that church since its inception to the modern day, the fact remains that its initial birth was very much as a result of what can generously be described as ‘administrative’ reasons, as opposed to any connection to the absolute truth.

In the early 1500s King Henry the V111 of England found himself in a bind. On the one hand his first wife Catherine of Aragon did not produce a son (at least not one that survived) and Henry was fixated on having a son who would become heir to the throne of England. On the other hand he had become infatuated with Anne Boleyn but Anne, desirous of becoming Queen, would not allow Henry too close until he got rid of his first wife, Catherine. Henry tried many things over a number of years but in the end he choose to divorce Catherine. As a result he had to break away from the Church in Rome as they would not allow divorce. He then declared himself the ‘Defender of the Faith’ (a title that is still in place today vis a vis the British monarchy) of a new church/religion – the Church of England. While Henry managed to bring many of the resident clergy in Britain at the time along with him, many remained loyal to Rome, not least Tomas Moore who was executed for his troubles. Thomas Cromwell was then installed as ‘vicar-general’ of the Church of England even though he was a layman with no clerical background. His main qualification was that he unreservedly supported Henry’s break from Rome. Soon after Henry unilaterally divorced Catherine and had his marriage to Anne validated. There were many consequences that followed that are too long to go into now but one immediate consequence was that Henry’s daughter Mary from his first marriage to Catherine was now considered a bastard.

Without casting any judgements whatsoever on modern day Anglicanism, we can clearly deduce that the origins of this religion were man made. As with most made man religions they are usually created for ulterior motives. In this case the motive was the desire for a son and the attraction for another woman.

This is not the only example that can be cited. In the Encyclopaedia Britannica there is a quote accredited to one man who began a religion in the 50s, the quote is:

“If you want to make a million start your own religion”

We understand that there is some dispute about this quote (which is hardly surprising as if you were foolish enough to say such a thing, you’d no doubt be eager to backtrack once challenged on it) but it simply reflects a mentality that is inherent in all of us, the tendency to cheat.

As if this quote isn’t enough there are other bizarre ‘religions’ out there looking for their share of the ‘spiritual’ market. One such group (a registered religion/charity in California) requires no more of you to be a member than having a liking for Harley Davidsons and cross dressing as a nun!

So from these examples we can see that while there is only one supreme God it does not prevent conditioned souls from creating their own religions. While there are many nuances as to why some conditioned souls create their own religions, the bottom line is that they do not want to surrender to the one supreme God and thus manufacture their own ideas.

So in conclusion there is only one God and there is only one religion too. That religion is to render loving service to the supreme Personality. Such service demands both a lack of motivation and self-interest as clearly stated by Suta Goswami – ahaituky apratihata – service should be unmotivated and uninterrupted.

Krsna Himself states it even more clearly:

sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja
aham tvam sarva-papebhyo moksayisyami ma sucah

“Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear”
Bg 18.66

Therefore the answer to your question is that until we all come to the stage of surrendering to the one supreme God, rendering Him loving devotional service that is both uninterrupted and unmotivated, new and man made religions will always be popping up in one form or another.

On Rising Early
Prasadam Distribution for flood-affected people at Belgaum...

19 Responses to “If There Is Only One God Why Are There So Many Religions?”

  1. bhakta edwin says :

    I enjoyed this article very much, but I fear it came off in a rather negative tone. It seems to deal with the cheating propensity of man-made religions, rather than the authority of bonafide processes which have been established by Krishna in different times, places, and circumstances. My fear is to see the Hare Krishna movement also become very elitist in it’s perception of other processes; this can lead to disdain for others who may have just as much love and devotion to God, but simply call different names and prayers or follow a different process. For instance, Lord Jesus stated his followers should love God with all their heart, mind, and strength, and love their neighbor as themselves. Surely this is not any different than when Krishna explains that we should abandon all varieties of religion and surrender unto Him. If a christian is sincerely trying to follow, can we rightfully put them at a lower level than a gaudiya-vaishnava sincerely trying to have all that they do and give away be done for Krishna? Or take this example – here’s an orthodox jew who loved the reggae style of music, so he decided to make a song about his praying to God. Is this so far away from what we are trying to do? Note in the lyrics these phrases (or just take this example, if you prefer not to hear the song):
    Strip away the layers and reveal your soul
    Got to give yourself up and then you become whole
    You’re a slave to yourself and you don’t even know
    You want to live the fast life but your brain moves slow
    If you’re trying to stay high then you’re bound to stay low
    You want God but you can’t deflate your ego

  2. krishna-kirti says :

    This verse in the Gita is relevant:

    O son of Bharata, according to one’s existence under the various modes of nature, one evolves a particular kind of faith. The living being is said to be of a particular faith according to the modes he has acquired. (Bhagavad-gita As It Is 17.3 trans.)

  3. Caitanya candrodaya dasa says :

    Srila Prabhupada wrote and I like the simplicity of his explanation in that essay:

    No religion of the world is without any connection with God. The principal religions of the world are 1. Hinduism, 2. Islam, 3. Buddhism and 4. Christianity. And all of them have some sort of direct or indirect connection with God. Such religions are made and propagated by God Himself or by His authorised agents. So far Hinduism is concerned and the Bhagavad-gita is accepted, all sects and subsects of the Hindu population take up the cause of the Bhagavad-gita and it is directly preached by God Himself in the Form of Lord Sri Krishna. So far Islam is concerned and the Koran is accepted, all Islamic population accept Hazrat Mohammad as the authorised agent of God and the faith is propagated by Him. So far Buddhism is concerned, all the people of the world professing faith in Buddhism obey Lord Buddha as God or the greatest authority. Lord Buddha advented Himself in India and He took up the cause of the poor animals who were being slaughtered unhesitatingly on the plea of Vaidic yajna and therefore Lord Buddha was compelled to disregard the principles of Vedic sacrifice just to establish the principles of nonviolence. The Hindu scriptures especially the Vaishnava literatures of the Vedas accept Lord Buddha as the incarnation of God. It is said that He preached His philosophy amongst those who had practically no faith in the existence of God but by His propaganda such men become faithful to Him and therefore indirectly they accepted God. So far Christianity is concerned, there is open acceptance of God because Lord Jesus declared Himself as the son of God. So all the religions of the world have direct or indirect connection with God and therefore we can take it for acceptance that religion means to learn obedience to the Laws of God as it may be compared with Nationalism means obedience to the laws of the state.

    Also see:

    Gitopadesa 70:

    yatra vidvajjano nasti slaghyas tatralpadhirapi
    nirastapadape dese erandopi drumayate

    In a place where there are no scholars, even a men of petty knowledge is worshiped just as in the land devoid of trees, even a castor oil plant is considered as a big tree.

    So there is some use in small tress as well.

  4. sdmuni says :

    Yes, there is one God since by definition there cannot be two “Supremes.” Well, maybe three Supremes, but that is a different historical discussion pertaining to pop culture in the 1960s.

    The more important concern than why there are so many ‘religions,’ – something that could possibly be considered in terms of professing a connection with God – is the quality of the relationship that the individual or cultural tradition claims to possess. The external trappings of that relationship may well change according to time and place (and sincerity and realization,) but the essential quality of pure devotional service itself remains transcendent.

    In other words, it is something that can manifest in any culture, even in any species, being that it is an inherent quality of the jiva who’s conditional journey is accompanied by the Supersoul, so we have been told.

    “Even a dog can chant . . .”

  5. pustakrishna says :

    Wonderful to hear the important discussions on this important topic. Lord Krishna relates that there is faith and hence religion for those in the modes of goodness, passion and ignorance. The best religion, according to Bhagavat dharma is described in the sloka, Sa Vai Pumsam Paro-dharmo…..It is the Sanatan Dharma of the soul and the spiritual nature. In the purified state, it cannot be separated from the soul itself.
    We are fortunate to have received Krishna Conscious guidance through the descending process, from Krishna Himself, via the transparent non-obstructing Sri Vaishnava Guru Varga, especially in this age when Lord Chaitanyadeva has mercifully appeared. While it is our duty and our service to share our Krishna Conscious concept of Spiritual Culture with others, we are not really concerned with other religions, nor need we be. On one morning walk, as Srila Prabhupad was entertaining the questions of the disciples who were gently challenging Srila Prabhupad to discuss issues of “comparative religion”, I asked Srila Prabhupad directly: “If one is fully convinced of Krishna, is there any need to read or consider any other religions or religious books?” The answer of His Divine Grace was a simple, “no”. So, we must not squander our spiritual wealth with any concerns for other so-called religious processes, dogma, or saviors. Krishna tells Arjuna, and all of us, Mam ekam saranam vraja…surrender unto Me only.
    With joy and fond rememberance of His Grace Praghosa Prabhu who wrote the article to stimulate our thoughts, I remain your unworthy servant, Pusta Krishna das, Santa Cruz, California

  6. Praghosa says :

    Dear Pusta Krishna prabhu,

    Hare Krishna!

    Thank you for your comment but just to clarify it is a different Praghosa that wrote the article and not your wonderful godbrother.

    Your (the other Praghosa) servant,

    Praghosa dasa.

  7. pustakrishna says :

    A rose by any other name would smell as sweet…Shakespeare

    Pusta Krishna das

  8. Vidvan Gauranga dasa says :

    Dear Praghosh (SDG) Prabhu:

    PAMHO. AGTSP.

    This was a fine article! Thank you!

    Your servant,
    Vidvan Gauranga dasa

  9. Tamoharadasa says :

    Hare Krsna Prabhus!

    One thing not covered much in this stream , but which all the devotees know, is that
    Krsna is the Supreme Enjoyer. Just as we might one day wear the hat of a baseball player, and another the bathing cap of a swimmer, for the sake of expanding our pleasureable pastimes, in the same way Sri Krsna expands Himself in infinite forms like the waves on the ocean. All are special and blissful, and expand the Lord’s variety and style of pleasure, and that of the Devotees, as well. The more variety, the more we can say that the Lord’s full pleasure capacities are being manifest. We can help Him in His pleasure pastimes by embracing and enhancing the moods and services of each avatar. As devotees of Sri Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu, we have rights of access to all these appearances.

    Krsna is wonderful, and often fulfills several “duties” or meanings all at once; just like annhilating the demons, or serving the gopis and gopas, or establishing successions, etc. all at the same time. In this way, He also enables several religions as according to the needs of different communities of mankind. curiously, the Koran also says this, but the Muslims in general reject the idea that India is included. This is an instance of blinkers-on religious thinking that denies God’s greatness and infinite glory. yes, there are infinite religious systems, but ultimately, there is only one; that of passionate attentive service to Krsna and the Devotees. Those who argue otherwise have a bias.

  10. Sri Clayton says :

    This topic, of why there are so many religions if there is only one God, has been of great interest to me for a long time. It is plain that the “God” of the Old Testament is different from Sri Krsna, and the Buddha is not a god at all! Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all trace their origin from Prophet Adam, and the religions which come from India, preaching reincarnation and liberation,have various different origins. The bhakti cult of pure devotion originates from the Gopis. Hindus are always trying to say “it is all One”, but only if you pointedly ignore the many differences. I did not start out with a plan to study “comparative religions”–I was brought up with the Bible, became interested in Buddhism, studied a great deal of occultism and theosophy, ran with pagans and Crowley people, and after taking initiation from a hodge-podge, landed back in the domain of Krsna Consciousness and Srila Prabhupada. The idea that “we alone are the real religion” is not unique to the devotees of Krsna—Christians feel that way, too, as do Muslims–my pagan friends say it is better not to say anything about the High God, lest we take to killing each other
    over who has the One True and Only Way. These different religions are meant for crtain mentalities of people–thus if you have the primitive mind-set of a first century Palestinian, you will become a Christian—if yur mentality is that of a Bengali in Jagganath Puri in the l5th century, you will become a Hare Krsna–we are all trying to gain that unselfed love spoken of in every scripture, and we need to respect others who are seeking in a different way, respectful of the differences. We may not “need” to know everything about the other guy’s faith, but we need to know enoough to speak with him intelligently.

  11. srimanta says :

    As per teaching of Prabhupada and previous Vaisnava spiritual masters, one must accept Lord Govinda to be supreme personality of Godhead. No other spiritual masters can become or can be accepted as equal to Lord Krsna or any incarnations of Krsna like Mahaprabhu. Thus a Vaisnava is duty bound to accept only Lord Krsna as supreme, otherwise one cannot be accepted as a follower of Vaisnava Philosophy. All other spiritual masters from other religions either more or less intelligent can be accepted as equal by one Vaisnava to show one’s humbleness to teachings of other religions and to their followers. But a Vaisnava’s identity is that Vaisnavas never accept them as equal to any other religions that have been thought by other non Vaisnava spiritual masters. Thus discussing other religions as equal or same as Vaisnava Philosophy is completely irrelevant because other religions exist in three modes of material nature. But Vaisnava Philosophy is beyond three modes of material nature and that’s why Vaisnavas are always supreme and any non Vaisnava spiritual master should not be accepted as equal.

  12. Caitanya candrodaya dasa says :

    Its important (at least for myself) to understand a few things:

    1) That word “religion” does not completely translate the word dharma and there is no such a thing as dharmas
    2) Nobody is equal to anyone. Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati is not Srila Prabhupadas equal. Nor is Rupa Goswami equal of Svarupa Damodara Goswami or Bhaktivinoda Thakura for example
    3) Process of following Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is not a sectarian process, even if seen or presented in this light by people without realisation and has nothing to do with religions and can be followed by a person of any denomination.
    4) There is an imbedded fallacy in an organised religion inevitably being part of the setting of the present age. This has nothing or should have nothing to do with para – dharma mentioned in the SB 1.2.6

    In a number of places Prabhupada made distinctions between what is understood in English as religion and what is dharma. Not exactly the same thing and Prabhupada loved to bring it up. In a lecture in LA Prabhupada said: “Dharma means religion. Religion… not exactly in the same way as we understand in English language: (Religion is) “a kind of faith.” Dharma. Generally, people understand that “I have got my own dharma.” “I am Hindu; I am Christian; I am Muslim; I am this; I am that.” But in Sanskrit language, dharma does not mean like that, “a kind of faith.” No. Faith is blind. Today you are Hindu, tomorrow you are Christian, today you are Christian. So this faith-changing is not dharma. Dharma means “which you cannot change.” That is dharma. Not that whimsically I change. That dharma is service. Every one of us rendering some service to others. That is dharma. Every one of us. ”
    SB 2.4.24

    In the introduction to BG Prabhupada confirms that sanatana-dharma “does not refer to any sectarian process of religion” . So what is that dharma that is refered in Bhagavatam in as paro-dharmo for all people? Srila Prabhupada answers: ” The best form of religion. So somebody may recommend that Hindu religion is best, or others may recommend that Christian religion is very good and others may say, “Oh, Muhammadan religion is very good,” and others may say, “Buddhist religion is very good.” But Srimad-Bhagavatam says very nicely… Srimad-Bhagavatam does not advocate that “Hindu religion is good” or “Christian religion is good” or “Muhammadan religion is good” or “Buddhist religion is good.” Srimad-Bhagavatam gives a general description. What is that? Sa vai pumsam paro dharmah: “That is the best form of religion for a person.” What is that? Sa vai pumsam paro dharmah. “That is the best form of religious principle,” yato bhaktir adhoksaje, “by performing which you become a devotee of the adhoksaja.” SBL1.2.6 London 1071

    It is not that Caitanya Mahaprabhu started a new religion, all other sects are in the modes of material nature, but this sect is transcendental. Not likes that. All previous acaryas were transcendental representatives of Sri Adhoksaja even before Mahaprabhu has started the sankirtan mission on a wider scale, Ramanuja Acarya, Sri Madhva, Sridhara Svami, Jayadeva, Alvars, Vyasa etc.

    In the commentary to Madhya 17.185 SP writes: Srila Madhavendra Puri was a real mahajana, but misguided people cannot distinguish the real from the unreal. But a person who is awakened to Krishna consciousness can understand the real religious path chalked out by the Lord.

    Its a matter of realisation, a person with realisation who is hardly “equal” to anyone else wrote and published it under volume 29, number 7, of The Harmonist (1932): “This (opposition to the orders of God) is ensured by the arrangements of all established churches of the world. They have been successful only in supplying watchful Putanas for effecting the spiritual destruction of persons, from the moment of their birth, with the cooperation of their worldly parents. No human contrivance can prevent these Putanas from obtaining possession of the pulpits. This is due to the general prevalence of atheistic disposition in the people of this world.
    The church that has the best chance of survival in this damned world is that of atheism under the convenient guise of theism. The churches have always proved the staunchest upholders of the grossest form of worldliness, from which even the worst of non-ecclesiastical criminals are found to recoil.” So one thing is to be on a religious path and yet another to belong or to start a religion, nobody can start a religion (dharma) and men who can not understand this often do start or make artificial distinctions of a religions (faith or denomination).

    Your servant

  13. sdmuni says :

    In regards to comment #10

    “Thus a Vaisnava is duty bound to accept only Lord Krsna as supreme, otherwise one cannot be accepted as a follower of Vaisnava Philosophy.”

    Hmm, what about Hanuman who preferred to worship Rama, no matter? Doesn’t Vaisnava mean worshiper of Visnu? I suppose a GoVaisnava would be an exclusive worshiper of Govinda.

    Go Vaisnavas!

  14. Caitanya candrodaya dasa says :

    Its hard to see how multitude of religions is in one way a matter of choice that Krsna himself gives to jivas and is acording to time and place, not only due to some political move, just like there is a choice of sampradayas or rasas even in pure Vaisnava tradition. Even in ISKCON there is choice of gurus, temples and ashramas, and may I add a number of movements already separated itself from it, as an example. There an godulike web with a discussion forum on this same point – why are there so many religions. The author lists A-Z of as many as 200 in an irreverent manner. There is discussion forum there where devotees preach to atheists and agnostics as well.

    But believe me its so easy to get across as dogmatic or sectarian - even wording of ones ideas is so important.

  15. varahanarasimha says :

    according to Srila Bhakti Vinod Thakura christianity , muslim religion is Upa darma, nearness to religion.and states that any religion that is not accepting the sac cit ananda form of Krsna as basically atheists , Bhavisya Purana descripes how all these meleccha religions where created.Interstingly there world religion comes from latin and greek and the root meaning is to directly experience the presence of God…without surrender to Krsna under the guidance of Srila Prabhupada and his servants however this seems very far away

  16. varahanarasimha says :

    Matin Luther rebelled against the corruption in the Catholic church but he ended braking his vow of celibacy and got married, he was also a big anti-Semitic and even Nazis quoted him at the Nuremberg trial as an excuse for having concentration camps.Martin Luthers reforms caused the 100 years war in Europe. And the Catholic church had inquisition, that was first abolished in 1960 something. The Catholics where also anti-Semitic and would sometimes kidnap some Jewish familles child and make him a Christian monk or priest, this was one of the reason of the downfall of their power. Only this caused the separation of church and state in Italy. Napoleon was so eager to expose the inquisition that he had thousands of documents brought to Paris and translated, it even showed the way Galileo was trialed (he that showed the earth is round and not flat like Copernicus )http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galileo_Galilei.So after that eventually “religion and science” in the west took seperate paths- so much for man made religion. . Galileo warned the Catholic church this may be their downfall as he was a Roman Chatolic and did not deny the existence of God .And there where similar christians Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler , Isaac Newton that proved things that the church opposed.So many things where man made in chistianity since the very beggining when the Bible was rewritten for 12 years- to suit those who liked meateating etc as this was part of the teaching of Christ and the apostles.Now how far
    away is all this from Srila Prabhupada teaching pure bhakti to Krsna…

  17. Caitanya candrodaya dasa says :

    Varaha Nrisima seems to asks: How far “it all” from the pure vaisnava tradition or bhakti that was brought to the west by SP.

    The answer is: It is as far as (1) the time that separates them and (2) as long as distance that separates it (besides, of course, to the essential points that separate one tradition from the other, both of them taken as representing a personal aspect of the Supreme)

    So if a person asks: “Now how far away is all this from Srila Prabhupada teaching pure bhakti to Krsna… ?” (A rhetorical question of course because the person has already made up his mind)

    If you ask…

    Between 1900 to 200 years and about 20000 miles apart:-)

    How helpful is such attitude for spreading the Sankirtan mission among
    everybody anyhow? (Its not a rhetorical question)

    (Its obvious that anyone who does put down other religions in the course of ones preaching (not religious Organizations or religious leaders, whom SP was sometimes putting down in the course of his preaching) makes ones preaching very ineffective and sectarian.) There are many remarks by SP which he has made on a regular basis and specifically when preaching in the Muslim world (e.g Tehran visit) where he would be positive about other religions. We should not take them as just being polite. SP had both: respect to other religions and absolute faith that pure bhakti of Samkirtan movement is the best way of deliverance in this age.

  18. lowly servant says :

    All Glories to His Divine Grace Srila A C Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada!!

    There is only one Supreme Personality of Godhead and only one true nature of every spirit soul- loving devotional service unto Him, but mankind wants different religions for so many reasons, so He provides them to us according to our various desires. In most of them, information about God’s Supreme Personality, Forms and Pastimes are very minimal. Here, He makes His highest and final recommendation for our benefit:

    Srimad Bhagavad Gita Ch 18 Tx 66:
    sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja
    aham tvam sarva-papebhyo moksayisyami ma sucah

    “Give up all varieties of religiousness, and just surrender unto Me; and in return I shall protect you from all sinful reactions. Therefore, you have nothing to fear.” (Bg. 18.66) Thus the Lord takes all responsibility for one who surrenders unto Him, and He indemnifies all the reactions of sin.

    “In this present day, man is very eager to have one scripture, one God, one religion, and one occupation. So let there be one common scripture for the whole world–Bhagavad-gita. And let there be one God only for the whole world–Sri Krsna. And one mantra only–Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. And let there be one work only–the service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.”

    …from introduction to Bhagavad Gita As It Is by Srila Prabhupada

    from Krishna or Christ-The Name is the Same…

    Father Emmanuel: May I ask a question? We Christians also preach love of God, and we try to realise love of God and render service to Him with all our heart and all our soul. Now, what is the difference between your movement and ours? Why do you send your disciples to the Western countries to preach love of God when the gospel of Jesus Christ is propounding the same message?

    Srila Prabhupada: The problem is that the Christians do not follow the commandments of God. Do you agree?

    Father Emmanuel: Yes, to a large extent you’re right.

    Srila Prabhupada: Then what is the meaning of the Christians’ love for God? If you do not follow the orders of God, then where is your love? Therefore we have come to teach what it means to love God. If you love Him you cannot be disobedient to His orders. And if you are disobedient your love is not real.

    Srila Prabhupada: All over the world people don’t love God. They love their dogs. The Krishna consciousness movement is therefore necessary to teach people how to revive their forgotten love for God. Not only the Christians, but also the Hindus, the Mohammedans and all others are guilty. They have rubber-stamped themselves as Christian, Hindu or Mohammedan, but they do not obey God. This is the problem

    Visitor: Can we say in what way the Christians are disobedient?

    Srila Prabhupada: Yes. The first point is they violate the commandment “Thou shall not kill” by maintaining slaughterhouses. Do you agree that this commandment is being violated?

    Father Emmanuel: Personally, I agree.

    Srila Prabhupada: Good. So if the Christians want to love God, they must stop killing animals.

    Father Emmanuel: But isn’t the most important point…

    Srila Prabhupada: If you miss one point there is a mistake in your calculation. Regardless of what you add or subtract after that the mistake is already in the calculation and everything that follows will also be faulty. We cannot simply accept the part of the scripture we like and reject what we don’t like and still expect to get the result. For example, a hen lays eggs with it’s back part and eats with it’s beak. A farmer may consider, “The front part of the hen is very expensive because I have to feed it. Better to cut it off.” But if the head is missing there will be no eggs any more because the body is dead. Similarly, if we reject the difficult part of the scriptures and obey the part we like, such an interpretation will not help us. We have to accept all the injunctions of the scriptures as they are given , not just those that suit us. If you do not follow the first order, “Thou shall not kill,” then where is the question of love of God?

    Visitor: Christians take this commandment to be applicable to human beings, not to animals.

    Srila Prabhupada: That would mean Christ was not intelligent enough to use the right word: murder. There is killing, and there is murder, Murder refers to human beings. Do you think Jesus was not intelligent enough to use the right word. Killing means any kind of killing and especially animal killing. If Jesus had meant simply the killing of humans he would have used the word murder.

    Father Emmanuel: But in the Old Testament the commandment “Thou shall not kill” does refer to murder. And when Jesus said, “Thou shall not kill,” he extended the commandment to mean a human being should not only refrain from killing another human being, but should also treat him with love. He never spoke about man’s relationship with other living entities but only about his relationship with other human beings. When he said, “thou shall not kill,” he also meant in the mental and emotional sense — that you should not insult anyone or hurt him, treat him badly and so on.

    Srila Prabhupada: We are not concerned with this or that testament but only with the words used in the commandments. If you want to interpret these words, that is something else. We understand the direct meaning. “Thou shall not kill” means, “The Christians should not kill.” You may put forward interpretations in order to continue the present way of action but we understand very clearly there is no need for interpretation. Interpretation is necessary if things are not clear. “Thou shall not kill” is a clear instruction. Why should we interpret it?

    Father Emmanuel: Isn’t the eating of plants also killing?

    Srila Prabhupada: The Vaisnava philosophy teaches that we should not even kill plants unnecessarily. In the Bhagavad-gita (9.26) Krishna says:

    patram puspam phalam toyam
    yo me bhaktya prayacchati
    tad aham bhakty-upahrtam
    asnami prayatatmanah

    “If someone offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, a fruit or a little water, I will accept it.” We offer Krishna only the kind of food He demands, and then we eat the remnants. If offering vegetarian food to Krishna were sinful, then it would be Krishna’s sin, not ours. But God is apapa-vijna — sinful reactions are not applicable to Him. He is like the sun, which is so powerful that it can purify even urine — something impossible for us to do. Krishna is also like a king, who may order a murderer to be hanged, but who himself is not subject to punishment because he is very powerful. Eating food first offered to the Lord is also something like a soldier’s killing during wartime. In a war, when the commander orders a man to attack, the obedient soldier who kills the enemy will get a medal. But if the same soldier kills someone on his own he will be punished. Similarly when we eat only prasada [the remnants of food offered to Krishna], we do not commit any sin. This is confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita (3.13):

    yajna-sistasinah santo
    mucyante sarva-kilbisaih
    bhunjate te tu agham papa
    ye pacanty atma-karanat

    “The devotees of the Lord are released from all kinds of sins because they eat food that is first offered for sacrifice. Others, who prepare food for personal sense enjoyment, verily eat only sin.”

    Father Emmanuel: Krishna cannot give permission to eat animals?

    Srila Prabhupada: Yes — in the animal kingdom. But the civilized human being, the religious human being is not meant to kill and eat animals. If you stop killing animals and chant the holy name Christ, everything will be perfect. I have not come to teach you, but only to request you to please chant the name of God. The Bible also demands this of you. So let’s kindly cooperate and chant, and if you have a prejudice about chanting the name Krishna then chant “Christos” or “Krsta” — there is no difference. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu said: namnam akari bahu-dha nija-sarva-saktis. “God has millions and millions of names, and because there is no difference between God’s name and Himself, each one of these names has the same potency as God.” Therefore even if you accept designations like Hindu, Christian or Mohammedan, if you simply chant the name of God found in your own scriptures, you will attain the spiritual platform. Human life is meant for self-realisation — to learn how to love God. That is the actual beauty of man. Whether you discharge this duty as a Hindu, a Christian or a Mohammedan, it doesn’t matter — but discharge it!

    Father Emmanuel: I agree.

  19. Akruranatha says :

    To get an authoritative understanding of God and the Absolute Truth, we need to approach those who are dhira.

    People from all religions should accept this point. Those who can control the six urges are qualified to make disciples in all parts of the world, regardless of the local customs, traditions, understandings and religious heritage.

    Those who are slaves to their senses can hardly be expoected to give us a clear understanding.

    Making the head of state into the head of the state church, as the Anglicans did, seems like a recipe for obscuring true religion. A king has so many other concerns, and should not be the final authority on religious questions. (And religion should not become a political football to be kicked around by those organizing factions to exert power over state affairs).

    The popes in those days were also very wrapped up in mundane political affairs, and it was much more of a political office in many ways than it is today. It was probably more a question of Catherine’s Habsburg family and political connections than objection by the ecclesiastical courts to dissolving royal marriages in general that prevented Henry VIII from getting the speedy annulment he sought.

    (Royal dissolusions were common then, and Pope Clement VII did allow Henry’s sister Margaret to get an annulment, but he had Catherine’s nephew Charles V, Roman Emporer and King of Spain, to deal with when it came to ruling on Catherine’s marriage to Henry VIII).

    So it would be superficial to think that the Roman church was pure and the Anglicans were breaking with a bonafide disciplic succession. Religion and politics had been excessively intertwined in Europe from the beginning of Christianity as a state religion in the late Roman empire. As one of my history professors put it: “As the world became more Christian, Christianity became more worldly.”

    [One interesting thing to ponder is that while all this was playing out — the political separation of the Church of England from Roman Catholicism, as well as the more religiously motivated revolts of the likes of Luther and Calvin on the continent — Lord Caitanya was displaying His later pastimes in Jagannatha Puri. ]

    The result of overly politicized religion in Europe and the specific political-religious turmoil that ensued in England led eventually to a new form of secular political philosophy, and also the relegation of “religion” to a matter of personal faith that was considered more or less irrelevant or “unscientific.” (Modern science was born against the background of the struggle of the Reformation in Europe)

    What really was (and still is) needed was a class of truly enlightened brahmanas who could give a clear understanding of God and the soul and nature and karma and liberation. In other words, those with the qualifications necessary to teach Bhagavad Gita As It Is.

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