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Faith and Science

Tuesday, 23 February 2010 / Published in Articles / 3,767 views

By Niscala Dasi

My article “Romeo, Rama and the Rebellious Riff-Raff” (referred to hereafter as 5R) raised an even more vital issue than whether stories need to be true in order to have effect, the theme of that article. It raised the important issue of whether Krsna consciousness is a science or a faith. We preach that it is a science- indeed it is a favorite preaching topic, but is that simply propaganda? Is it really a science? How is it a science?

It is not that science is without faith – actually, faith is a vital component of science. For example, to account for the results of experiments, some scientist developed the atomic model of a positively charged nucleus surrounded by negatively charged electrons. On the basis of that model, the periodic table was created that accounted for the properties of various elements. It is completely reasonable to accept the atomic model, as it explains many observations. Thus, despite the fact that it cannot be proved, chemists accept it anyway, and through using it, they have developed further discoveries into the structure of matter and can even predict how matter will act under certain conditions.

Just say you have a chemist who is a die-hard cynic. He knows that the atomic model is accepted on reasonable faith, but he thinks that maybe the actions of matter can be explained another way. Rather than build upon the accepted model, he dismantles it and tries to start over again. While other chemists are making progress in their chemical research, he is questioning premise 1, though premise 1 has not yet proved faulty. If all chemists were like this, no progress in the science would be made. So science is based on reasonable faith.

Conversely, reasonable faith is based on the scientific method. There is a hypothesis, an experiment, observations noted and a conclusion. The hypothesis is the statements given in the sastra about various means of self-realization. The experiment is on our own consciousness- we are the guinea-pigs! And exactly like the experiment in a lab, certain conditions must be kept stable and constant in order for it to be fruitful. In our case, those conditions include living in the mode of goodness and eradicating one’s anarthas, symptomized by falsity, distraction and ambition- the conditions required in the sastric premise. Observation is then made on one’s state of consciousness, and the conclusion follows.

Like in science, in this spiritual path, complete cynicism in the face of favorable results is a setback and places one struggling with the first premise, though it has not yet been proven faulty. Thus, while other scientists in the field are progressing onward in their research into higher states of consciousness, the cynic is left simply struggling with irrational doubt. The rational result from a favorable outcome is a conclusion- faith in the original premise.

In the sastra, we have a premise that chanting brings relief from material suffering. We may experience this, but not always, so we can easily jump to the conclusion that the premise is wrong- except that we haven’t kept the conditions for the experiment stable and constant- we haven’t lived in the mode of goodness or we haven’t yet eradicated our anarthas. The closer we come to goodness, and the more we work on our anarthas, the better- and more accurate and consistent- are the results of the experiment. That is our experience, and from that we can conclude that the premise is accurate. We can have rational faith that is scientific.

Yet the scientific method itself is not reliant on our faith- this is the point of contention that the 5R article brought about. Devotees, at least some devotees, believe that faith will change the results of the experiment. If this is the case, then Krsna consciousness is not really a science, and we better stop preaching about it as such. It is not that faith changes the result of any experiment, either in the field of consciousness or of matter. Rather, faith helps one move on to the next level- it changes how we act as scientists, not how the experiment acts on us. Through faith, one gains the enthusiasm to move on and experiment with more chanting, and more remembering of the pastimes of the Lord, more focus, more time spent in focusing. The same thing happens in the lab- a scientist who has made a breakthrough and sees it as such, is far more enthusiastic than a cynic who always doubts in the results of an experiment. This is because the cynic sees that though the results consistently confirm the premise, such can always possibly be explained in another way.

In the discussion of the 5R article, some devotees said that one must believe the stories as true, for them to have their effect on consciousness. This is unscientific, but it is also contradicted by the fact that internalized stories have a demonstrably powerful effect on consciousness, even completely transforming the character of whole societies, whether or not they are known to be fact or fiction. That is the central theme of Rollo May’s book “The Cry for Myth”, about which the 5R article was written. So it gives further evidence that Krsna consciousness, in every way, works as a science.

Such discovery naturally increases our faith, not only in the process of hearing about the pastimes of the Lord, but in the reality of those pastimes, which is the final goal of the experiment- prayojana. When we see that the process works, regardless of faith, paradoxically our faith in it increases, much as a chemist who sees that a drug works, regardless of the placebo (faith) effect, develops conviction (faith) in the true efficacy of the drug. As our faith in it increases, we trust more and more the scientists who have taken the experiment to its final stages, and realized within their hearts the pastimes of the Lord enacted, or who have taken part in those pastimes. This happens in much the same way as a person starting the study of physics, has faith in Einstein, though he is a long way from being able to understand his equations…the original premises Einstein worked with, the basic laws of physics, the beginner can prove as true, giving him faith that is reasonable. It gives him faith in those conclusions which, the conditions of his intelligence not being in constancy with Einstein’s, are beyond the possibilities of his present experimentation…

Mayapur Institute Graduation ceremony 2010
Live from Sri Mayapur Candrodaya Mandir! HH Bhakti Charu Swami on HH Bhakti Tirtha Swami

14 Responses to “Faith and Science”

  1. Akruranatha says :

    Yes, it is very important that ISKCON devotees do not fall into the habit of simply trying to shout down opponents, “You have to believe me because my book is from God (and yours is not).”

    People are sick and tired of this kind of religious “discourse”. It may be true that your book is from God, but why should I listen to you rather than someone else who has a different scripture, a different ritual, a different priesthood, also claiming to be from God?

    One of the lines Vaisesika uses on book distribution to overcome the resistance of certain customers goes something like this: Q: “Is this book about religion?” A: “No. ‘Religion’ is where they try to tell you what to do, but this book shows you how to find out for yourself.”

    It is an effective line. It works. And it is really true.

    Of course, we use the word “religion” in different ways. Often we use it in a positive way. We translate “dharma” as “religion”. We say, “‘Religion’ is the code of conduct directly established by God,” and things of that sort.

    But people are understandably wary of “religion” when it is used as a kind of official institution of more or less blind faith and obedience. “Religion” in that sense can be the enemy of true righteousness and enlightenment.

    It is becoming popular nowadays for people to say, “I am spiritual, but not religious.” We can appreciate what they mean, and show them Hare Krishna offers them ways to be “spiritual” and not “religious” in that sense.

    When the European world of Christianity was being torn apart by major schisms within the dominant authoritative church, resulting in wars and inquisitions, “Science” emerged as a new authority that (supposedly) did not depend on faith in fallible persons.

    “Democracy” also began to emerge (or re-emerge) as a basis of establishing political authority separate from a personal monarch. (“A government of laws, not of men.”)

    “Liberalism” emerged as a powerful ideology holding that each individual is competent to determine his or her own best interest (as opposed to paternalist authoritarianism).

    “Secularism” emerged as concomitant concept, because state-sponsored religion is inherently paternalistic, unliberal, undemocratic, (and “unscientific”?)

    We don’t have to be on the wrong side of history. We do not support blind faith in authority. Krishna consciousness is really the perfection of science and philosophy and art and morality and liberty and love and obedience. And you can find out for yourself.

  2. niscala says :

    thanks Akruranatha, for the practical and useful connection to preaching. Regarding secularism, I have a friend who has written a paper which extols its virtues…i agreed but diasagreed …

    About secularism in Americam schools, you have made a good case for it, in regard to the vices of sectarian religion but i think an essential part of education is religion, as the whole person needs to develop. Religion, in its essence, equips the individual with coping and motivational skills. Connection with God means that in times of isolation and tragedy, one can turn within and get solace. It helps one ride out the ups and downs of life- seeing all as temporary- the reality being more about the sense of who one is and what one is supposed to be in relation to the world and to God. It grounds one is being and evolving towards, rather than having, and accumulating. Modernity is characterized by a loss of purpose in life- for people need more than just how to live- by giving them a career- but why to live. This is what distinguishes humans from animal life- the animals are only concerned with how- not why. If education doies not supply the “why” then it is incomplete. Even people with well-paying careers have thrown themselves out of their office windows onto the pavement below, often for lack of a “why”. Parenthood or spousehood can give a sense of “why” but families break up- what then? Suicide? Often the case. “Why” is just as important for survival as “how”. It must satisfy the “why” in eternal and ontological ways, not temporary and circumstantial, for people cannot exist long without a “why”- a sense of purpose is vital… one needs motivation to live, not just a means.
    Non-sectarian religion would be looking for a common essence to religion that upholds values we all share. While we may not agree that women need their heads covered, we agree that women should be respected and not seen as sense objects- the head covering is the means, not the objective, but there can be other means to achieve that objective- such things can and should be discussed among children, as it ensures the break up of fundamentalist religion, and the suspicion and misunderstanding between religions that exist today.

  3. niscala says :

    Continuing…

    Religious principles, in essence, assure our survival, by purpose-giving, and by universal morality. Thus, although various parts of the bible accept slavery as normal, this is only the context in which the bible took place- the essence of the bible is Jesus’s teaching that one should love one’s neighbour, and not regard bodily differences, such as leprocy or even prostitution,what to speak of slavery, to be an excuse from that essential commandment…

    In respect to slavery, it is not necessarily devoid of “love thy neighbour” for a slave can be simply a part of the family- all his needs are supplied in return for service, and he is loved and appreciated. Is he free? Well, if all his needs were met, it would not be an issue, would it? On the other hand, are we free when we can at any time become unemployed and destitute, and are willing to scrape by a living at a degrading occupation under constant anxiety that the bills will not be paid, or that we will somehow not live up to the boss’s expectations and demands, and be fired, lose our homes and end up on the street? Freedom means also freedom from anxiety. It means freedom from exploitation. If a person is universally loving, he will never degarde anyone, never exploit. The laws against slavery are only necessary because we have not truly internalized the bible’s essential message- and that of all religion- love your neighbour- love every neighbour, everyone you meet, and do only to them what you would want done to you. That is empathy- living in another persons shoes.

    So these sort of themes, common to religion and essential to survival, must be discussed in schools. It cannot be left up to the parents, because many parents are themselves spiritually depleted and without inspiration. Atheism can be discussed, also, it is not that everyone is expected to believe, but rather, imbibe the benefits of religion, regardless of belief. We may be environmentalists, because we value survival, but if we are so because we believe that God is in every part of nature, our motivation is much stronger, being imbued with a sense of devotion.

  4. niscala says :

    .Regarding secularism vs theocracy,i do not recommend theocracy, or even trying to equalize all the different religions, as that can never be done and little good will come from it anyway. I recommend finding the beneficial essence which flows through the differences between religions and having that taught in schools, for the following reasons 1) a sense of connection with God has been shown to be beneficial for mental health and personal relationships- this is proven by survey- but it is also reasonable, as having a sense of divinity with one, or within one, gives a sense of purpose, of being watched and cared for, of being listened to…while a sense of the divine in others, or of the divine observing one’s relations with others, naturally makes one respectful 2) a sense of the divine in nature, or of nature being a creation of the divine, places one in a position of servitude to nature, and custodianship, rather than her exploiter and rapist, which is what we are right now… 3) by finding essential thought through the unimportant details, one gradually learns to see unity in diversity, the essential composition of thought necessary to eradicate fundamentalism and fanaticism in religion, promoting world peace.

    Establishing world peace, eradicating religious fundamentalism, the need for ecological stability, for personal growth and satisfaction, for the decline of suicide among youth, for a sense of purpose in life- of one’s significance “in the scheme of things” (the lack of which can arguably lead not just to suicide, but other self-detsructive behavior such as drug addiction and prostitution) are real-life problems that face us now or in the near future. They take the life of many a youth as we speak, or they may take the lives of us all in one swoop in the future in one horrific catastrophe. These problems, in brief, threaten our survival. And they all stem from duality of vision. Personal isolation and the sense of meaninglessness comes from the sense of being cut off from the world- seeing oneself as separate and irrelevant to the world and everyone in it. Ecological devastation results from seeing ourselves as separate from nature. World peace and religious fundamentalism are the result of seeing religions as separate. We need unity in diversity…but in materialistic estimation, this is a contradiction of terms- we see black man, white man, muslim, christian, anchristian, animal, river, and we see difference, difference, difference.

  5. niscala says :

    …we see our youth, terrified of difference, for it means separation, and isolation… so they desperately try to eliminate their differences and “fit in” …and so they dye their hair black if Goth is in, or white if Barbie is in, or wear long skirts if hippy is in, or short skirts if that is in, etc etc, for all around them there is a gulf of isolation threatening to swallow them if they do not blend in with the crowd. But that fails to unify, for there is always difference- someone always has a longer nose, or a bigger butt, or more frizzy hair or whatever, and is ridiculed to the point of suicide. And now they can no longer escape from the bullying to safe ground at home- it follows them there on their mobile phones and email inboxes. Or on facebook…

    So unity must be preached, strongly, to save our youth, the environment, and the peace. The only basis of unity – as everything and everyone appears to be both different and separate- is the sense of wonder that everything and everyone is a divine miraculous creation, a tiny part of which even the best scientific brain could not bring about- such as an ant. So God is both logical, unifying, and full of the call to admire everything, and everyone, as well as seeing oneself in everything and everyone, and of giving a sense of being an integral part of a divine plan.

    To preach religion in this way- with a focus on its unifying principle, which is not the 4 pillars of religion that you mention- but one principle only- love for God- love for all He has created- and love for all that is part of Him- such education is necessary, and it can be with reference to the Bible, or Koran, or Gita. Anything in these scriptures which appears to contradict the unifying principle, such as endorsement of slavery, is left aside as a mundane viewpoint of the scriptural commentator. Certainly Jesus teachings, as well as Krsna’s (particularly as Mahaprabhu) and the sufi interpretation of the koran, support unity through equality of vision and universal empathy.

  6. Akruranatha says :

    Very well put Niscala!

    To be more clear (although I know I am usually far from clear), I was not trying to make a case for secularism, or liberalism, or democracy, or science. I took for granted that we all shared in appreciating Srila Prabhupada’s critiques of these modern trends.

    I guess I was making a case against what I am calling “fundamentalism”, Kali yuga appeals to religious authority without enlightenment, for ulterior purposes, which divide people and spread doubt, fear, uncertainty, loathing.

    I was saying the materialistic and atheistic trends in modern life have their origins in reactions to the unenlightened chauvinism that dresses itself up as “religion” in this age of hypocrisy and quarrel.

    And that the real antidote to atheism, materialism, relativism, hedonism, etc. is to embrace the chanting of Hare Krishna and the reading of Srila Prabhupada’s books.

    One point you make in the end about Sufism: In Jaiva Dharma, Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur discusses Islam, in a way that makes it sound like Sufis are more like mayavadis, and the regular mullahs with their emphasis on strictly obeying God’s commandments are more like Vaisnavas. I found it interesting.

    There is a Bangladeshi movie called “The Clay Bird”, about a boy growing up during the time of the Bangladesh war, being educated in a madrassah. His father is a staunch but rigid Muslim, the Kazi of his village. It is a touching movie that shows a lot of aspects of Bengali life, including traveling groups of singing musician-preachers. It reminds me that even though they are not Hindus, there is something very Bengali about them that reminds me of us. :-)

    The film is more sympathetic to the Sufi mood of compassion and feminine energy, as opposed to the rigid, rule-oriented Islam of the main character’s father. One of the song sequences has a mock debate between a Sufi sadhu and a woman playing the role of an orthodox Sharia critic. The chorus goes:

    Woman: “If you want to go to heaven, keep fear of Allah in your heart.”

    Man: “If you want to be close to Allah, keep love (‘prema’) in your heart.”

    Of course this Islam was influenced by Lord Caitanya.

    In one of the verses, the woman accuses the man of not performing ritual animal sacrifices on holy days.

    He replies, “God commands us to sacrifice what is most dear to us. Are goats and cattle your most beloved? Most people are fond of sense enjoyment. If you can, control your ten senses and meditate on God.”

  7. niscala says :

    If Bhaktivonode Thakura is rejecting sufism because it is not interested in the letter of the law, but the spirit of it, then he is writing for neophytes, and to discourage, maybe, sahajiyaism, which is total rejection of rules. One must follow, but at the same time see the spirit, which is love for God. Prabhupada gives an example of a servant who is told never to go into the bedroom of the master when the master is in it (for obvious reasons)- but when he sees smoke, he doesn’t hesitate to break the law…his love for the master requires it…
    So the spirit of animal sacrifice is giving something that is most valuable to the Lord- in nomadic society it was one’s animals. An excellent point, that sense gratification is even more dear, and therefore… when animal sacrifice is used to satisfy the toungue, it loses any benefit it might have had. In modern times, most muslims do not even see the animals that are being sacrificed- they have no attachment. Therefore, even if they face the poor creature toward Mecca and recite the prayers, because it is not to give up something valuable to the Lord, it has no spiritual value, and incurs only karmic reaction. Actually, these poor animals have to be transported huge distances by ship so that they can be slaughtered in Muslim countries according to their so-called religious requirements…because they suffer so much before death, the reaction is greater. Thus, preserving an understanding of the reason behind the law, is essential…
    As Rupa G. said- one should not follow the rules for the sake of following them, which is what the regular mullahs emphasize. but one should not give them up whimsically, as the sahajiyas do. One must see the purpose behind the law- which is love of God. A muslim who knows that God is pleased not by the slaughter of animals as such, but by the sacrifice of that which is most dear to one, will never commission animals to be killed in anything other than strictly nomadic pastoral society.
    In varnashrama one is forbidden to do the work of another- the reasons are clear- a sudra should not renounce his work out of laziness and try to read all day instead for he will simply go to sleep. A vaisya should not try to become a leader, because he will make profiteering the focus of the community at the expense of its members…but if a sudra/vaisya sees a need to counsel a devotee he should do it, for the goal of varnashrama is loving cooperation. Or a brahmana may help with the harvest.

  8. Akruranatha says :

    I do not pretend to know what Bhaktivonod Thakur was expressing in that part of Jaiva Dharma. It was kind of a small discussion and not a very detailed comparative analysis of different Islamic traditions. When I have time I will go find my copy of Jaiva Dharma and see if I can quote the relevant passages.

    I do get the impression that some Sufis, by emphasizing God’s immanence over His transcendence, trend toward pantheism and impersonalism. At least the orthodox Muslims have a personal sense of God as their master whose will must be obeyed, which is more dualist and seems to be more on the Vaisnava side of the acintya bhedabheda equation than some more monistic types of Hinduism and Islam. At least, that was my impression when I read it of what the Thakur meant.

    Personally I have very little experience with Islam and its various practitioners.

    But yes, this film “The Clay Bird” presented a sensitive portrait of both positive and negative aspects of Islamic Bengali life, at the critical time of the run up and early days of the war for independence from Pakistan. Some teachers at the madrassah were more authoritarian and rule-oriented. Others were more friendly with the students and personally humble and “soft”, and they appreciated that humble aspect of Sufi preachers in Bengali history.

    The orthodox father was rigid in his faith, not only in Islam, but in homeopathic medicine (he was a practitioner-healer). This led to a major crisis in the film (the death of his daughter due to his rejection of allopathic treatment). Similarly, the father had faith in the military authorities, that union with West Pakistan was important for worldwide Islamic progress, and that the army would not do anything against the best interest of the village. But in the climactic crisis the army killed many villagers and burned the houses down, leaving him a broken man.

    The more gentle, faithful Muslims were more practical. One boatman was a particularly strong, sympathetic character, a wise judge of human nature.

    The father’s homeopathy led (for me at least) to this aching sense that all these ideologies were really foreign. That is, although this was a faithful Islamic film, even Islam itself was, like Marxism or Allopathic medicine, another non-native element. Some of the young Bangla nationalists alluded to this.

    Lord Caitanya, though apparently more recent, really represents the original culture of all Bengalis and, ultimately, of all people.

  9. niscala says :

    please excuse me if this was sent before…not sure what happened!

    We see Lord Chaitanya providing not just knowledge of acintya bhedabheda but being a living example of it. He had the universal all-encompassing vision of the Sufis- the sense of loving compassion and brotherhood- while maintaining a strong sense of His separation from the Lord in devotion- sometimes very strong, in ecstasy…thus He was able to attract even the impersonalists, as he did not contradict their vision and realization- He added to it, enabling bhakti to blossom…

    There is a growing feeling among religions that seeing one’s path as superior, one’s God as the only one, or indeed, oneself as separate from other practitioners, results in condemnation of others, and in self-righteous behavior, thus breeding fundamentalism, violence and misunderstanding between religions. The sense that we are all non-different from each other, results in a sense of unity, compassion, empathy and understanding. The fact is -this is our theology as well- we are all of the nature of God. If we forget that part, and take part in condemnation of others while in the illusioned state of duality, we will breed Hare Krsna fundamentalism.

    Our acaryas strongly condemned impersonalism, but they did so with full knowledge of our universal oneness, of the quality of God being within everyone- they did so with love and compassion for those on the impersonalist path, struggling to have a sense of devotion to God, and a sense of dedication to a particular path- in the confusion of seeing them all as one! So we are required to achieve their balance of oneness and separation. It is very easy, in the conditioned state to fall into condemnation, and a sense of superiority and separation- our false egos dictate it. But seeing all as of God’s nature, as non-different from each other, just struggling with a certain conception that makes devotion to God difficult- cultivating that kind of vision allows us to be naturally compassionate and identify fully with those we are preaching to.

    People are very attracted to this feeling of unity at the core of their being- for materialism means the isolation and loneliness of competition for jobs and resources. They are looking for empathy and brotherhood- not just superficial niceness and sympathy- but something deeper. We must reach that place, or fall victim to irrelevance and impotency…

  10. Akruranatha says :

    Yes. Good points.

    There was an article in Newsweek Magazine (a popular weekly news magazine here in the U.S.), within the last six months or so, that said, “America is becoming Hindu.”

    I think the title of the article was something like that.

    And the body of the article explained, it does not mean that everyone is converting to Hinduism, but rather that the idea is catching on that, “It does not matter what religion you practice or profess, so long as the result of that religion is good.”

    In previous times, Catholics would teach their kids that it was a sin to set foot in a Protestant church (let alone a mosque, mandir or synagogue), and there are still many Protestant or Evangelical preachers on TV who argue that all Hindus, Jews, Moslems, Catholics and even other Protestant churchgoers are all going to hell because they are not following the very specific brand of Christianity offered by the televangelist. [Jimmy Swaggert was just one example of this type of preacher.]

    So, the Newsweek article was saying, surveys of American attitudes over time have shown a clear trend in the idea that it is the result that matters, what you do with your religion, rather than which particular sect you belong to.

    And the author of the article recognized this as a “Hindu” idea.

    Of course, we still may have our work cut out for us in getting people to accept what really counts as a “good” result, but people may be more capable than we think of understanding that love of God, which gives you freedom from all miseries and the ravages of time, and brings unlimited happiness, detachment from addictions and tangible enlightenment, is the ultimate good for all people.

    The following interview with a journalist was printed in Back to Godhead magazine (a bi-monthly that should become as popular as “Newsweek”):

    “Interviewer: Your Divine Grace, you mention that you and your followers are following in the footsteps of Lord Caitanya. He’s the one who appeared on earth five hundred years ago?

    “HDG A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami: Yes.

    “Interviewer: In India.

    “HDG A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami: India, yes. So He is Krsna Himself, and He is teaching how to love Krsna. Therefore, His process is most authorized. For instance, in this establishment you are the expert. If some new person is doing something and you personally teach him, ‘Do like this,’ that is very authorized. So when God appears as Lord Sri Krsna Caitanya, God Himself is teaching God consciousness. ”

    to be continued…

  11. Akruranatha says :

    “Or take the Bhagavad-gita. Krsna — God — is speaking about Himself, and at last He says, ‘Just surrender unto Me. I’ll take charge of you.’ But people misunderstood. So Krsna came again as Lord Caitanya, to teach people how to surrender. And because we are following in the footsteps of Lord Caitanya, this method is so sublime that even foreigners who never knew Krsna — they’re following it.

    “This method is so potent. So that was my purpose in coming here. We don’t say, ‘This religion is better than that religion’ or ‘My process is better.’ We want to see by the result. In Sanskrit there is a phrase — phalena pariciyate: ‘A thing is judged by the result.’

    “You can say, ‘My method is very nice.’ You can say your method is very nice. But we have to judge by the result. The Srimad-Bhagavatam says, ‘A process of religion is very good if, by following it, one becomes a lover of God.’

    “Interviewer: Yes. But, you know your religion is not the only one which teaches this particular precept.

    “HDG A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami: That I am explaining — that this is not the only one. There may be many that teach the precept ‘Become a lover of God.’ But this one is practically effective.

    “Interviewer: Now, in the part of the world where this particular philosophy originates — which is in India, right? — in the Eastern part of the world, at least as we look at it, is it successful there?

    “HDG A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami: Oh, yes.

    “Interviewer: Do you have a large following there?

    “HDG A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami: Oh, yes. Recently, I was in India. I held two meetings that lasted for ten days each, and twenty to thirty thousand people were attending daily. The Indian people’s position is that they’re naturally Krsna conscious, but at the present moment, thanks to their so-called leaders, they want to replace Krsna consciousness with material consciousness.

    “Interviewer: Is the Krsna consciousness philosophy compatible with the Hindu religion?

    “HDG A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami: Any religion.”

    to be continued…

  12. Akruranatha says :

    “Interviewer: Any religion.

    “HDG Srila Prabhupada: Because God is one. Krsna consciousness is the science of God. Two plus two equals four — it is understood by everyone. Not that it is to be understood by the Christians and not by the Hindus. Two plus two equals four is a fact for everyone. Similarly, God is a fact for everyone. Now, when it comes to the method for loving God, this is the only process.

    “Interviewer: Now, do you claim, then, that your way of loving God is the way to love God?

    “Srila Prabhupada: Yes. At least for this age.

    “Interviewer: For this age?

    “Srila Prabhupada: Yes.

    “Interviewer: You mean for Kali-yuga?

    “Srila Prabhupada: Yes.

    “Interviewer: For the time we live in right now?

    “Srila Prabhupada: Because the method is authorized. Krsna prescribes this — Krsna Himself in His original form, and also in His manifestation as Lord Caitanya. He says that in this age this is the only method for self-realization, or for God realization, or to learn how to love God.

    “He says. Krsna says. Therefore, it is authorized. And it is practically happening. Otherwise, these boys and girls — they’re foreigners. They never knew Krsna. But now I have got sixty centers, and in each center there are, on average, a hundred devotees. And they have dedicated their life. So how is it happening, unless it is authorized?

    “Interviewer: Well, you know, they say they never knew Krsna, and you are, of course, right. But different people name their Gods in different ways. You name your God Krsna. In the Western world many, many people name their God Jesus.

    “HDG A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada: Yes. That’s all right. We say in that connection that if you have got a name which is actually referring to God, that will also do — just as we are chanting Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare . . .

    “Interviewer: Right. Yes.

    “Srila Prabhupada: So according to the Vedic literature,

    “krsnas tu bhagavan svayam: ‘Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead.’

    “He has got many names, thousands and millions of names. This is the original name. So Lord Caitanya says that you have to chant Krsna, but if you have got another actual name for God, then chant that. We are not asking that you chant Krsna. If you have got another actual name for God, then you can chant that. We are requesting this: ‘Chant God’s holy name.'”

    Anyway, the interview keeps going on. Srila Prabhupada cuts right through all the “my religion versus your religion” problem…

  13. niscala says :

    thank you prabhu, for the very appropriate quote! It is this kind of preaching that attracted so many to Srila Prabhupada, at a time when the Christian religion was more fanatical and sectarian- I just picked up a booklet from my local church which was all about appreciating other religions. It was contradictory however, because while they recommended that we dialogue with other religions and appreciate them, and be nice to them, and not condemn them, they strongly advised that we should not accept their God (the Muslims’s etc) as the same as ours (the Christian’s)…yeah, why not?

    So at least they are now saying (most of them) that we should be appreciated. Srila Prabhupada was way ahead of his time- Lord Chaitanya’s philosophy is way ahead of our time. He gives an ontological basis for unity, not just a “lets all try to get along” approach, which was the mood of the booklet. Unless there is something deep that is underpinning unity, a slight disagreement between egos will cause misunderstanding and fundamentalist hatred etc to flare up.

    There is unity in who we are, in the God that we all worship, in the goal of all religion. Even the fact that our method of chanting is uniquely effective (harinama eva kevalama kalau nastyeva) does not necessarily put us above other religions, as other religions also chant and glorify God’s name. We go so far in our unity theory to include all of the creation- all is God’s energy. So this provides a theological basis to protection of animals and all living things, and even keeping clean the non-living environment- God is there too!

  14. Akruranatha says :

    It may be harder for us when we are dealing with offshoot groups who accept some version of Srila Prabhupada’s teachings but for one reason or another do not want to cooperate with ISKCON. We kind of feel that we are competing with them for scarce resources (i.e., the loyalty of potential members), or that they are competing with us, at least, trying to woo “our” people away from our projects.

    So, we feel the need to erect appropriate barriers and rules and lines that should not be crossed.

    I appreciate that. I think we do have a duty, a sacred trust, to keep ISKCON healthy and strong and united and increasing and pure.

    So, we say everyone should just chant God’s name, but if you become a little closer to us we can explain why we think it is nice for you to work within this particular vehicle for carrying out Srila Prabhupada’s preaching mission (i.e., ISKCON).

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