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Religious-Confusion

What is Religion?

“Religion includes four primary subjects: (1) pious activities, (2) economic development, (3) satisfaction of the senses, and (4) liberation from the material bondage. Religious life is distinguished from the irreligious life of barbarism. Indeed, it may be said that human life actually begins with religion. The four principles of animal life-eating, sleeping, defending and mating – are common both to the animals and the human beings, but religion is the extra concern of the human being. Since the human life is no better than animal life without religion, in real human society there is some form of religion aiming at self realization and referring to one’s eternal relationship with God. In the lower stage of human civilization there is always a competition between men in their attempt to dominate material nature”.

In other words, there is a continuous rivalry in an attempt to satisfy the senses. Thus, driven by sense gratificatory consciousness, men enact religious rituals. Thus pious activities and religious functions are performed with an aim to acquire some material gain, and if such material gain is obtainable in another way, this so-called religion is neglected. This can be seen in the modern human civilization. Since the economic desires of the people appear to be fulfilled in another way, no one is interested in religion now. The churches, mosques, and temples are practically vacant, for people are more interested in factories, shops, and cinemas. Thus they have deserted the religious places erected by their forefathers. This is evidence that religion is generally performed for the sake of economic development, and economic development is required for sense gratification. When one is baffled in his attempt to attain sense gratification, he takes to the cause of salvation in order to become one with the supreme whole. All these activities arise with the same aim in view – sense gratification.
Source: A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (2012 edition), “Teachings of Lord Caitanya, The Golden Avatara”, Page 289 and 290

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Did god created religion?

No, God has not created any religion. God is one. He is neither Hindu nor Muslim nor Christian. The Vedic injunction is ekam brahma dvitiyam nasti: God is one; He cannot be two. So whether you are Hindu, Muslim, or Christian, God is one. Religion does not mean stamping oneself as a Hindu, a Muslim, or a Christian. No, religion means to know God is great and that we are subordinate to Him and maintained by Him. According to Caitanya Mahaprabhu jivera ‘svarupa’ haya-krsnera ‘nitya-dasa’: [Cc. Madhya 20.108] Every living being is an eternal servant of God. This is religion. If anyone simply knows these things – that God is great and we are subordinate, and that our duty is to abide by the orders of God – he is religious.

Sometimes the Personality of Godhead Himself descends and teaches transcendental knowledge; at other times He deputes His confidential servants to perform this act of kindness. All the messiahs – saints who have come before or who will come in the future to preach the transcendental message of the kingdom of Godhead – are to be understood as the most confidential servants of the Personality of Godhead. Lord Jesus Christ appeared as the son of Godhead, Muhammad introduced himself as the servant of Godhead, and Lord Caitanya presented himself as the devotee of Godhead. But whatever their identity may be, all such messiahs were of the same opinion about one thing: there can be no permanent peace and prosperity in this mortal world. All of them agree that we have to go to a separate world, where peace and prosperity have their real being. We have to search out our eternal peace and prosperity in the kingdom of God, which is beyond this mortal world.

Source: A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (2014 edition), “The Quest for Enlightenment”, Page 10, 12, 70, 69, 84
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (2012 edition), “Message of Godhead”, Page 11

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Is there any difference between Dharma and Religion?

The word dharma means “duty.” Although the word dharma is often translated as “religion” and religion is generally defined as a kind of faith, dharma is not in fact a kind of faith. Dharma means one’s actual constitutional duty. Dharmam tu saksad bhagavat-praniam: no one actually knows what dharma is, and no one can manufacture dharma. Dharma is the order of the Supreme Being. No one can manufacture state laws; they are given by the government. The simplest definition of dharma is that dharma is the order of the Supreme Being. Since the Supreme Being, God, is one, His order must be one. How, then, can there he different dharmas? It is not possible. Different dharmas are created due to ignorance, which causes people to think in terms of Hindu dharma, Muslim dharma, Christian dharma, this dharma or that dharma. No. Gold is gold. If a Christian possesses some gold, does it become Christian gold? Gold is gold whether possessed by a Hindu, a Muslim or a Christian. According to the order of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, dharma means surrendering unto that Supreme Being. It is one’s duty to know the needs of the soul, but unfortunately we have no information of the soul and are simply busy supplying the necessities for bodily comfort. Bodily comfort, however, is not enough. Suppose a man is very comfortably situated. Does it mean he will not die? Of course he will. We speak of a struggle for existence and survival of the fittest, but bodily comforts alone cannot enable anyone to exist or survive permanently. Therefore, taking care of the body only is called dharmasya glanih, or pollution of one’s duty. One must know the necessities of the body and also the necessities of the soul. The real necessity in life is to supply the comforts of the soul, and the soul cannot be comforted by material adjustments. Because the soul is a different identity, the soul must be given spiritual food, and that spiritual food is Kṛṣṇa consciousness. When one is diseased, he must be given the proper diet and the proper medicine. Both are required. If he is simply given medicine but not a proper diet, the treatment will not be very successful. Therefore the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is meant to give both the proper medicine and the proper diet for the soul. The diet is Kṛṣṇa-prasada, food that has first been offered to Kṛṣṇa, and the medicine is the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra.

Religion consists of the laws of God. People who do not know this think that religion means faith. But although you may have faith in something and I may have faith in something, and although I may believe you and you may or may not believe me, that is not religion. There is even a supposedly religious mission that says, “You can manufacture your own way”. Yata mata tata patha: “Whatever you think is right, that is right”. This is their philosophy. But that is not science. Suppose I am a madman. Is whatever I think all right? How could this be? “Two plus two equals four” is science. If I believe that two plus two equals five or three, does it become true? No. So there are laws of God, and when there is dharmasya glanih, deviation from these laws, we suffer. Just as we might suffer by violating the laws of the state, as soon as we violate the laws of God we are subjected to so many tribulations.

Source: A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (2014 edition), “Teachings of Queen Kunti”, Page 121, 150
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (2007 edition), “Teachings of Lord Kapila, The Son of Devahuti”, Page 6

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If God Kṛṣṇa has not created any religion then why Bhagvat Gita talks about caste system?

In the Bhagavad-gita Kṛṣṇa says, catur-varnyam maya srstam guna-karma-vibhagasah: “I created four divisions of men according to their quality and work.” [Bg. 4.13] For instance, you can understand that there are engineers as well as medical practitioners in society. Do you say they belong to different castes-that one is in the engineer caste and the other is in the medical caste? No. If a man has qualified himself in medical school, you accept him as a doctor; and if another man has a degree in engineering, you accept him as an engineer. Similarly, the Bhagavad-gita defines four classes of men in society: a class of highly intelligent men, a class of administrators, a class of productive men, and ordinary workers. These divisions are natural. For example, one class of men is very intelligent. But to actually meet the qualifications of first-class men as described in the Bhagavad-gita, they need to be trained, just as an intelligent boy requires training in a college to become a qualified doctor. So in the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement people are being trained how to control their minds, how to control their senses, how to become truthful, how to become clean internally and externally, how to become wise, how to apply their knowledge in practical life, and how to become God conscious. The movement is not introducing the caste system, in which any rascal born in a brahmana family is automatically a brahmana. He may have the habits of a fifth-class man, but he is accepted as first class because of his birth in a brahmana family. This is not accepted. A man is recognized as first class who is trained as a brahmana. It doesn’t matter whether he is Indian, European, or American; lowborn or highborn-it doesn’t matter. Any intelligent man can be trained to adopt first-class habits.

Source: A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (2014 edition), “The Science of Self-Realization”, Page 16

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What are various Varnas & Asramas given in Bhagvat Gita?

There are four varnas, namely, the brahmanas (priests and intellectuals), the ksatriyas (warriors and statesmen), the vaisyas (businessmen and farmers) and the sudras (laborers and servants). There are also four standard asramas, namely brahmacarya (student life), grhastha (householder), vanaprastha (retired) and sannyasa (renounced).

“The four social orders, namely the brahmanas, the ksatriyas, the vaisyas, and the sudras, have come out of the different parts of the universal form of the Supreme Lord as follows: the brahmanas have come out from the head, the ksatriyas have come out from the arms, the vaisyas have come out from the waist, and the sudras have come out from the legs. Similarly, the sannyasis have come out from the head, the vanaprasthas from the arms, the grhasthas from the waist, and the brahmacaris from the legs”. These different orders of society and grades of spiritual advancement are conceived in terms of qualification. It is confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita that the four social orders and the four spiritual orders are created by the Lord Himself, in terms of different individual qualities. As the different parts of the body have different types of activities, so the social orders and spiritual orders also have different types of activities in terms of qualification and position. The target of these activities, however, is always the Supreme Personality of Godhead. As confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita, “He is the supreme enjoyer”. So whether one is a brahmana or a sudra, he has to satisfy the Supreme Lord by his activities. This is also confirmed in the Srimad Bhagavatam by a verse which reads: “Everyone must be engaged in his particular duty, but the perfection of such work should be tested by how far the Lord is satisfied with such activities”. The injunction herein is that one has to act according to his position, and by such activities one must either satisfy the Supreme Personality or else fall down from his position.

For example, a brahmana who is born out of the head of the Lord has as his business to preach the transcendental Vedic sounds, or sabda brahman. Because the brahmana is the head, he has to preach the transcendental sound, and he also has to eat on behalf of the Supreme Lord. According to Vedic injunctions, when a brahmana eats it is to be understood that the Personality of Godhead is eating through him. It is not, however, that the brahmana should simply eat on behalf of the Lord and not preach the message of the Bhagavad-gita to the world. Actually, one who preaches the message of the Gita is very dear to Kṛṣṇa, as is confirmed in the Gita itself. Such a preacher is factually a brahmana and thus by feeding him one feeds the Supreme Lord directly.

Similarly, the ksatriya has to protect people from the onslaughts of maya. That is his duty. For example, as soon as Maharaj Pariksit saw that a black man was attempting to kill a cow, he immediately took his sword, wanting to kill the black man, whose name was Kali. That is a ksatriya’s duty. Violence is required in order to give protection. In the Bhagavad-gita, Lord Kṛṣṇa directly gave His order to Arjuna to commit violence on the battlefield of Kuruksetra, just to give protection to the people in general.

The vaisyas are meant for producing agricultural products, trading them and distributing them. And the working class, or sudras, are those who haven’t the intelligence of the brahmanas or the ksatriyas or the vaisyas, and therefore they are meant to help these higher classes by bodily labor. In this way, there is full cooperation and spiritual advancement amongst all the different orders of society.

And when there is no such cooperation, the members of society will fall down. That is the present position in the kali-yuga, this age of quarrel. Nobody is doing his duty and everyone is simply puffed-up by calling himself a brahmana (intellectual) or a ksatriya (soldier or statesman). But actually, such people are without status. They are out of touch with the Supreme Personality of Godhead because they are not Kṛṣṇa conscious. Therefore the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is intended to set the whole of human society in proper condition so that everyone will be happy and take profit from developing Kṛṣṇa consciousness.

Source: A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (2011 edition), “The Nector of Devotion”, Page 24

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Difference between religious activities & devotional service.

The difference between executing ordinary religious activities and devotional service is very great. By executing religious activities one can achieve economic development, sense gratification or liberation (merging into the existence of the Supreme), but the results of transcendental devotional service are completely different from such temporary benefits. Devotional service of the Lord is ever green, and it is increasingly transcendentally pleasing. Thus there is a gulf of difference between the results derived from devotional service and those derived from religious rituals.

Source: A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (2012 edition), “Teachings of Lord Caitanya, The Golden Avatara”, Page 349

 

 

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What is the origin of Hindu religion?

The word “Hindu” is not a Sanskrit word. It was given by the Muhammadans. There is a river, Indus, which in Sanskrit is called Sindhu. The Muhammadans pronounce s as h. Instead of Sindhu, they made it Hindu. So “Hindu” is a term that is not found in the Sanskrit dictionary, but it has come into use. But the real cultural institution is called vanasrama. There are four varnas (social divisions) – brahmana, ksatriya, vaisya, and sudra – and four ashrams (spiritual divisions) – brahmacari, grhastha, vanaprastha, and sannyasa. According to the Vedic concept of life, unless people take to this system or institution of four varnas and four ashrams, actually they do not become civilized human beings. One has to take this process of four divisions of social orders and four divisions of spiritual orders; that is called varnasrama. India’s culture is based on this age-old Vedic system.

Source: A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (2014 edition), “The Science of Self-Realization”, Page 201, 227

 

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The present so called Hindu law is out of sync from scriptures.

All of Indian society in the second half of the eighteenth century was, by order of the British administration, under a law divergent from Hindu law. There was a lot of change. The actual Hindu law that was used by the Hindus was quite different from the original Manu-smrti. The Manu-smrti is an example of the standard of brahminical culture. One cannot trace out from history when the Manu-smrti was written, but it is considered so perfect that it is the Hindu law. There is no need for the legislature to pass a new law daily to adjust social order. The law given by Manu is so perfect that it can be applicable for all time. It is stated in Sanskrit to be tri-kaladau, which means “good for the past, present, and future.” However, lot of changes have been made in the present Hindu law. Even late Pandita Jawaharlal Nehru introduced his own Hindu code. He introduced the right of divorce in marriage, but this was not in the Manu-samhita. Before this modern age the whole human society was governed by the Manu-smrti. Strictly speaking, modern Hindus are not strictly following the Hindu scriptures.

Source: A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (2014 edition), “The Science of Self-Realization”, Page 232

 

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Are followers of different religions also vaishnavas?

Christians and Muslims are also Vaisnavas, devotees, because they offer prayers to the Lord. “O God”, they say, “give us our daily bread “. Those who offer this prayer may not know very much and may be at a lower stage, but this is a beginning, because they have approached God. Going to a church or mosque is also pious (catur-vidha bhajante mam janah sukrtino rjuna). Therefore those who begin in this way will one day become pure Vaisnavas. But the atheistic propaganda that one should not go to a church, temple, or mosque is very dangerous to human society. One may not be very advanced, but one should try at least to do something to understand God. A child is sent to school, and although he may simply learn ABCD, if he is interested he may one day become a very good scholar. Similarly, one day a pious man may become a pure devotee.

Source: A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (2014 edition), “Teachings of Queen Kunti”, Page 146

 

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How Kṛṣṇa consciousness is different than Buddhist philosophy & Mayavadis?

In this world everyone is trying to get liberation from material pangs. Those who follow Buddhist philosophy are trying to get liberation from the material miseries by reaching nirvana. Nirvana means “the stage when everything is extinguished”. The Buddhists want to make everything void; they want to make all material varieties zero. That is the sum and substance of Buddhist philosophy. And Mayavada (impersonalistic) philosophy is more or less similar. It is a second edition of Buddhist philosophy. The Buddhists want to make everything zero without life and the Mayavadi philosophers say, “Yes, we should make the material varieties zero, but keep life”. That is their mistake. Where there is life, there must be variety; life without variety is not possible. This is the defect of Mayavada philosophy.

Although, the Mayavadi philosophy claims to be directed by the Vedic conclusions, Lord Siva, however, admits that this philosophy is manufactured by him in the age of Kali in order to mislead the atheists. “Actually the Supreme Personality of Godhead has His transcendental body”. “But I describe the Supreme as impersonal. I also explain the Vedanta-sutra according to the same principles of Mayavadi philosophy”.

In the Siva Purana the Supreme Lord says: “My dear Devi, sometimes I teach Mayavadi philosophy for those who are engrossed in the mode of ignorance. But if a person in the mode of goodness happens to hear this Mayavadi philosophy, he falls down, for when teaching Mayavadi philosophy, I say that the living entity and the Supreme Lord are one and the same”.

Mayavadi philosophy has the audacity to reject the purpose of Vyasadeva, as explained in the Vedanta-sutra, and to attempt to establish a doctrine of transformation which is totally imaginary. According to the Mayavadi philosophy, the cosmic manifestation is but the transformation of the Absolute Truth, and the Absolute Truth has no separate existence outside the cosmic manifestation. This is not the message of Vedanta-sutra. The transformation has been explained by Mayavadi philosophers as false, but it is not false. It is only temporary. The Mayavadi philosophers maintain that the Absolute Truth is the only truth and that this material manifestation known as the world is false. Actually this is not the case. The material contamination is not exactly false; because it is relative truth, it is temporary. There is a difference between something that is temporary and something that is false.

Kṛṣṇa consciousness is different than Buddhist and Mayavadi philosophy. Kṛṣṇa consciousness brings you to real life – a life of devotional activity in the liberated stage. But it is often difficult to understand the philosophy of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Why? That is explained in Srimad-Bhagavatam [7.5.30]: matir na krsne paratah svato va mitho ‘bhipadyeta grha-vratanam. Grha means “house”, and vrata means “vow”. So the Bhagavatam says, “One who is too interested in maintaining a comfortable family life cannot understand the philosophy in attaining bodily comforts, a nice wife, a nice apartment, a nice bank balance. These things are his aspirations, and nothing more.

Source: A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (2014 edition), “The Quest for Enlightenment”, Page 58
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (2012 edition), “Teachings of Lord Caitanya, The Golden Avatara”, Page 238, 239, 310