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Question & Answer


Why do bad things happen to good people?
How can one logically prove the presence of God?
Is religion made by man or by God?
Does Religion Cause War?
What is the need of rituals? Is it not enough to just think of God in the mind?
Why do temples spend so much money on expensive religious rituals when beggars are starving outside the temples? Wouldn’t God be more pleased if his starving children – those beggars – are fed?
When God is present everywhere, why should we worship him in the temple images?
Is ISKCON an American organization that sends temple donations from India to America?
Was Arjuna’s killing Karna when he was chariot-less not unfair, being against the kshatriya codes?
What is the ultimate goal of devotional service?

Why do bad things happen to good people?


Here’s an analogy to understand the answer. In villages, grain is often stored in huge vertical containers; fresh grain is poured into the top, and old stored grain is taken out from the bottom. A farmer may have produced poor quality grain of, say, brand Z for the past four years and stocked it in his container. This year he produces high quality grain of, say, brand A and stores it at the top. He is therefore exasperated when he finds grain of brand Z coming out from the bottom. This illustrates how seemingly innocent people suffer in this life: they have been doing good things in this life, but have earlier done bad things whose reactions are coming to them now.

The workings of karma are often difficult to appreciate is that most people have a karmic record that is neither white nor black, but shades of gray. That mixed record leads to reactions that often appear arbitrary. A question that vexes many when they see bad things happening to good people is: “If these people were really so bad in their earlier lives, how could they have been virtuous in this life for so long?”

There are several possible answers. We often see even upright people occasionally succumbing to temptation and perpetrating abominable misdeeds. Of course, their virtuous nature rectifies them quickly, but still the fact remains that they did commit a greatly sinful act and are therefore liable for a reaction. So the wrongdoing, like an ugly black spot on their otherwise clean karmic slate, will result in a severe reaction in an otherwise happy future life. Shift this scenario one lifetime backwards and we have the answer to the above question. The harsh affliction coming to a good person may thus be due to an occasional but grave transgression in a previous life.

Also, our behavior in this life is not determined only by our tendencies in the previous life; upbringing and association in this life also play a significant role. So if people with bad inclinations are born into a good family because of some good karma, their congenial upbringing and surroundings may empower them to shed their baggage of negative propensities. Thus they may become moral in this life, but their misdeeds from previous lives will make them suffer despite their rectified conduct now.

Thus the principles of reincarnation allow us to view life with a much broader perspective—not from the standpoint of one brief lifetime, which is nothing more than a flash in time, but from the standpoint of eternity. With this broader vision we can understand how each of us individual souls is alone responsible for what happens in our life.




How can one logically prove the presence of God?


There are so many examples of existence of God. We will discuss few of them.

The size of Earth is perfect.  

Scientists says that our universe come to an existence by big explosion of energy and light, which we now call the Big Bang Theory.

So it is impossible to appear something in “perfect shape” from any blast.  So earth is in perfect shape. We can understand this with small example.

If gas bottle blast in your kitchen and automatically roti , dal, sabji and sweet lunch plate becomes ready by just blasting of your gas bottle.  So is it possible? No, somebody should be there to prepare plate.

Scientifically & logically, it does not happen accidentally.

  • Operate

If anything exists by accident, it will not work in its proper order for a longer period. We can understand this with small example.

If you throw one paper on the ground, it will rotate here and there sometime on land or in the air. It happens because nobody is controlling it.

Similarly, the Earth rotates around the sun at a speed of nearly 67,000 mph. it takes 24 hours to rotate around the sun. The speed of earth never changes.

Earth always rotates left to right it never rotates right to left so here we can put arguments against scientist that if everything is going on by chance then earth should rotate sometimes right to left. But earth always rotates left to right.

 

  • Albert Einstein Example

One day Albert Einstein’s asked his friend that who has created this wonderful universe?

His friend replied that it has came by chance so Albert Einstein puts some arguments against his friend but his friend does not convinced.

So Albert Einstein invited him for dinner next day.

Next Day early morning Albert Einstein Made a Glass Model of Universe. All the planets were floating in Glass Model.

At night his friend came for dinner. He saw the Glass model of Universe and says to Albert that who has made this?

Albert replied that this model of universe came by chance so his friend said don’t joke tell me who has created this model so again albert replied that this came by chance.

His friend said how can be possible by chance?

Albert replied.. I wanted to give answer of yesterday’s question therefore I invited you for dinner.

Albert replied that there must be some creator of this universe. If this small toy universe cannot come by chance than how can it possible the real universe exists by chance. There must be God who has created this Universe and he also maintains this universe.

Albert Einstein, “The deeper one penetrates into nature’s secrets, the greater becomes one’s respect for God.” Let’s try to penetrate into the secrets of one of the most astonishing natural phenomena.




Is religion made by man or by God?


Religion can refer to various things.

If by religion we refer to the Sanskrit word dharma, then that is definitely not man-made; that is our intrinsic nature, the very fabric of our being.

However, we normally don’t understand religion this way.  To gain a sense of its normal meaning, let’s analyze the word etymologically and functionally.

Etymologically, or in terms of the roots of words, religion refers to “respect for what is sacred, reverence for God,” or “obligation, the bond between man and God.” These roots indicate that religion is the means by which we bond with God in love. Religion provides us tools for inner transformation by which we can learn to love God. So it can be said to be a type of treatment – a treatment for the soul. This spiritual treatment cures the misdirection of our love and enables us to love the eternal instead of the temporary, God instead of the world.

Religion as a spiritual treatment is not so much a set of dogmas or rituals as a set of universal principles. These principles are intrinsic to existence, as is say gravity. We may call gravity by different names in different languages; we may or may not comprehend the origin or cause of gravity; we may or may not know the mathematical equations that describe it. But still gravity exists and acts. The same applies to the principles that comprise religion. Just as the universe is made by God, so are these principles that govern our destiny in the universe.  So, when by the word “religion” we refer to these principles, then again it is definitely made by God, not man.

Functionally, we often use the word ‘religion’ to refer to different religions like Christianity, Islam and Hinduism. These great religions have usually begun with a primeval revelation in which God shared the knowledge of the principles of religion. So, at their roots, these religions are God-made. However, over the course of centuries, they have undergone many changes. Not all the forms that they have taken are geared towards helping people to love God. Many concocted ideas and practices have been added in it. So, much of what goes on in the name of religion today is man-made.

Therefore, to the extent that today’s religions are in accordance with the words of God, to that extent they can be said to be made by God. To the extent that they deviate from those divine words, to that extent they are man-made.




Does Religion Cause War?


The short answer is no; humans cause war – and justify that warfare using whatever reasons they can find including religion. Religion, if understood and practiced properly, removes the materialism and selfishness and greed that are generally the actual causes of war.

Here’s the long answer

Many people feel that the world would be better off without religion.
We can understand their sentiments when we consider that modern times
have seen large-scale violence in the name of religion. But is religion
the only cause of violence? If it were, then parts of the world
dominated by atheistic views should have been absolutely peaceful. But
history shows that violence has touched all parts of the world more or
less equally, independent of the theological beliefs of the people. In
fact, most of the wars throughout history, including World Wars I and
II, were fought for purely secular political, economic, or ideological
reasons; religion was not an issue at all.
Whenever wars were fought in the name of religion, the real issue was
the same: the increase of wealth and power. Religion was just a
convenient scapegoat for the powers that be to mask their grossly
materialistic motives. And even such “religious” violence has been only
a tiny fraction of the secular violence witnessed by the world in
recent times.

Is Religion Dispensable?
The protest that religion leads to violence implies that religion is
bad and should be rejected. But can the human being do without
religion? The universally accepted goal of life is the quest for
happiness. When man neglects or rejects religion, consciously or
unconsciously his conception of his own self becomes “a lump of
chemicals that has by chance come alive.” The quest for happiness then
degenerates into a savage struggle for carnal enjoyment. Wealth, wine,
and women become the only goals of life. Such a conception of life is
individually frustrating and globally disastrous.
The fundamental need of the individual is love; everyone wants to love
and be loved. But in the material conception of life there can be no
such thing as real love. People put up a façade of love for another
person as long as they get sensual pleasure in return. When that stops,
they dispose of their object of “love” just as fast as they would dump
a broken TV.
In their heart of hearts, people know that no one loves them, no one
cares for them. Naturally they feel lonely, rejected, insecure, and
frustrated. These feelings are the root of stress, depression,
addictions, delinquency, hypertension, criminality, and even suicide.
Studies in psychology have confirmed that there is no better insurance
against self-destructive behavior (including drinking, substance abuse,
and suicide) than strong religious faith.
At a global level the rejection of religion leads to a setting wherein
love, ethics, morality, and selflessness become meaningless. Although
the anti-religionist may feebly urge the masses to “be good,” such an
appeal has no substance. “If the goal of life is to enjoy and I’m here
for who knows how long and there is no life after death, then why wait?
I should just enjoy. Beg, borrow, steal, or even kill, but enjoy.” By
making religion dispensable, we court global disaster.

The Vedic Definition of Religion
What is this mysterious phenomenon known as religion–a phenomenon that
causes millions of people to congregate annually at Jagannatha Puri,
Tirupati, Badrinath, Mecca, and the Vatican, braving the weather, the
crowds, and all the other troubles of a pilgrimage?
The Vedic texts of ancient India give an understanding of religion
quite different from the common understanding. (To avoid the negative
connotations the word religion inevitably brings, I’ll use the word
spirituality to designate the Vedic understanding of what is commonly
called religion. I’ll discuss the difference between the two terms
later.)
According to the Vedic texts, spirituality imparts the vision to see
the cosmos in the proper perspective and to live in harmony with it.
The basic teaching of the Vedic texts is that the cosmos is not just
matter; it has a spiritual dimension. The Bhagavad-gita (13.27) states,
“Know that whatever you see in existence, both the moving and the
nonmoving, is only a combination of the field of activities [matter]
and the knower of the field [spirit].” Modern scientific research in
fields such as past-life memories, near-death experiences (NDEs), and
consciousness studies also strongly suggests a spiritual part of our
being that continues to exist even after bodily death.
The Vedic texts explain that our real self is not material; a spiritual
particle called the atma, the soul, animates our material body. The
supreme spiritual being who animates the entire cosmos is called the
Paramatma, or the Supersoul. And the relationship between the two –the
soul and the Supersoul–is loving service, like the relationship
between a parent and a child. This loving relationship exists eternally
in the highest realm, called the spiritual world. The soul’s refusal to
harmonize with the will of the Supreme temporarily obscures the
relationship. The soul is then placed in the realm of matter, where we
all now reside.
The Vedic texts further explain that genuine spirituality is meant to
awaken us to our original spiritual identity through a harmony of
philosophy and religion, the two rails on which spirituality runs. The
philosophical aspect of spirituality involves the study and
understanding of matter, spirit, and the controller of both–the
Supreme Lord. And the religious aspect involves following rules and
regulations that bring about realization and experience of the
spiritual realm.

A Higher-Dimensional Science
We can note the striking similarity between this definition of
spirituality and the approach of modern science. Modern science
involves the formulation of hypotheses to explain the observable
phenomena within the universe (similar to the philosophical aspect of
spirituality). It also involves following rules that regulate the
laboratory environment to verify the validity of the hypotheses
(similar to the religious aspect of spirituality). Spirituality thus
constitutes a higher-dimensional science; it deals with realms of
reality higher than the mundane.
The spiritual scientist, by dint of systematic practice of both
philosophy and religion, understands the nature of the cosmos and
learns to live in harmony with it. Having realized his own identity as
an eternal spiritual being and his loving relationship with the Supreme
Being, a mature spiritual scientist sees all living beings as his
brothers. His vision of universal brotherhood leads him to spontaneous,
selfless, and holistic service to all living beings.
About such a spiritual welfare activist, the ˆsopanisad (Mantra 2)
states, “One may aspire to live for hundreds of years if he
continuously goes on working in that way, for that work will not bind
him to the law of karma. There is no alternative to this way for man.”
Thus genuine spirituality, far from being the cause of violence, is the
source of harmony–within and without. A true spiritualist is
self-satisfied and helps others become self-satisfied. There is no
question of violence in a society of self-satisfied persons.

The Real Cause of Violence
What then, from the Vedic perspective, is the cause of violence?
Imbalance occurs in the cosmic order when humankind lives in disharmony
with either of the energies of the cosmos. When the material concept of
life prevails over the spiritual, dharmasya glanih, the decline of
spirituality, results. Spirituality may decline when one neglects its
religious aspect, its philosophical aspect, or both. Srila Prabhupada
remarks, “Religion without philosophy is sentiment, or sometimes
fanaticism, while philosophy without religion is mental speculation.”
And the absence of both religion and philosophy marks the degeneration
of the human species to the animal platform.
When humanity degenerates to the animal platform, the law of the
jungle–survival of the fittest–prevails. And just as peace is
impossible in a jungle, peace remains a utopian dream in the concrete
jungles of today, despite all sorts of “landmark summit meetings.”
Therefore violence is caused not by spirituality but by the perversion
of spirituality, which has divested the human being of his humanity. So
the way to restore peace is not by rejecting spirituality but by
reforming it. This will pave the way for humanity to once again develop
human qualities such as love, contentment, continence, selflessness,
and humility, which alone can engender lasting peace.
We can compare the defects that have crept into spirituality to a
cataract in the eye. To cure the eye, we must remove the cataract, not
pluck out the eye. Similarly, we have to arrest the decline in
spirituality, not reject spirituality itself. Just as plucking out the
eye causes blindness, rejecting spirituality will rob humanity of the
precious eyes of divine wisdom, resulting in disharmony and disaster.
The spiraling rates of crime and violence all over the globe give us a
glimpse of the anarchy in store if humanity continues to neglect
spirituality.

Correcting the Iron-Age Chaos
When cosmic disorder occurs, the Supreme Being descends to the material
realm to reestablish spirituality, by which humankind can once again
learn to live in harmony with the cosmos.
In the present age, dharmasya glanih prevails, since all the
aspirations and achievements of most of humankind are within the realm
of matter. Most people have no interest in philosophy. And those with
some interest pursue it mainly as a means to an academic career or for
intellectual growth and not as a zealous search for the Truth. Unable
to understand the truths of the cosmos, they mislead others.
Similarly, most people are not religiously inclined. The somewhat
religious are mostly ritualistic and mechanical in their religious
practices; they have little scientific understanding of what they are
doing or why. People often claim to be fighting to protect their
religion, but if questioned they don’t even know its fundamental
tenets. And even if they know them, they’re not interested in following
them. Such pseudo religionists are interested only in their own profit
and use religion as a tool to promote it. Thus the present age of iron
is characterized by an almost total decline in spirituality or a
perversion of it.
To correct the enormous disorder prevalent in the modern times, the
Supreme Being descends in a form that transcends all restrictions of
time and space. He descends in His holy names, which always stay with
us, irrespective of time, place, and circumstance. That is why we see
that the major religions of the world enjoin their followers to chant
the holy names of God. Chanting is the universal religion for the
current age. And among the innumerable names of God, the Vedic
scriptures assert that the most potent is the maha-mantra, “the great
chant for deliverance”: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/
Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
The Supreme Being has also given a concise yet complete manual for the
present age in the form of the Bhagavad-gita, the essence of Vedic
wisdom. It is the ideal textbook for the aspiring spiritual scientist.
About the Bhagavad-gita, Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “I owed a
magnificent day to the Bhagavad-gita. It was the first of books; it was
as if an empire spoke to us, nothing small or unworthy, but large,
serene, consistent, the voice of an old intelligence which in another
age and climate had pondered and thus disposed of the same questions
which exercise us.”

A Call to My Fellow Youth of India
Eminent thinkers throughout the world, including leading scientists
such as Nobel Laureate Richard R. Ernst, peace workers such as Nobel
Laureates Oscar Arias Sanchez and Betty Williams, and spiritualists
such as Nobel Laureate the Dalai Lama, firmly believe that only a
synthesis of science and spirituality can lead the world out of the
present troubled times.
The youth of India have a unique position in the world. By virtue of
birth in the holy land of India, they inherit the priceless wealth of
spiritual knowledge expounded in the Vedic texts. And by virtue of
their education and training, they have developed the scientific spirit
of rational inquiry. Thus they are best suited to bring about the
much-needed synthesis of science and spirituality that thinkers all
over the world are searching for.
The late Professor Arthur Ellison, a mechanical and electrical
engineer, stated, “Surely the great and unique contribution that India
has made and must continue to make to the world’s progress is in the
field of religion–of truth and reality…. India can most certainly
help the West to find the spiritual way back towards reality, which is
essential for all real progress.”
Unfortunately, most young Indians today are enamored by the razzle-dazzle of Western culture–blue jeans, supermarkets, Big Macs, Disney “fun,” rock music, Hollywood movies, and the like. But before embracing Western culture, wouldn’t it be worthwhile to study the condition of those who have lived with it their whole lives? Statistics show that in the U.S.A. a thousand teenagers attempt suicide every day. Seventy percent of all high-school seniors have attempted or seriously
thought about suicide. Thirty-three percent of American adults have serious mental health problems. Psychiatry and psychology are the most lucrative professions in America, and among all professionals, the highest suicide rate is found among psychiatrists and psychologists.
Yet for most Indians, America is the land of their dreams. Srila Prabhupada would lament that modern Indians are sitting on jewels and begging for broken glass. Let the intelligent youth of India become selfless spiritual scientists dedicated to saving the world from its suicidal course. Let them, in the true spirit of science, study the theory of spirituality with all
seriousness and at the same time perform the experiment of mantra  meditation. Those who take up this challenge will become living
spiritual scientists and will help usher in an era of peace, harmony,
and understanding.




What is the need of rituals? Is it not enough to just think of God in the mind?


Rituals are the essential external means to think of God internally.

Rituals are not restricted to religion; they pervade all fields of life. Let’s consider two worldly examples:

1. When we meet a stranger, the ritual of extending our hand and saying “I’m pleased to meet you” gives tangible, recognizable and appreciable form to our desire to express cordiality and warmth.

2. On a birthday, the ritual of blowing a candle and cutting a cake brings structure and verve to the celebration.

Many people would still find a birthday celebration jarringly incomplete without candle-blowing, although candle-blowing has no intrinsic connection with a birthday. If the ritual were intrinsically connected with the essence of an occasion, then how much more would it be necessary on that occasion? For example, bowing down or kneeling down in a holy place is a ritual to express our humility in the presence of the divine. Could we experience the same profound humility if we were to sit cross-legged, leaning backwards on an easy-chair with the head resting on the palms of the hand? Arguably not.

Let’s analyze: what is the precise connection of the outer ritual with the inner essence? There’s a dual connection: rituals are the means to both expressing the essence and experiencing the essence. The handshake helps express the essence of cordiality, the candle-blowing helps experience the essence of happiness, and the bowing down helps both express and experience the essence of humility.

Let’s now consider another ritual: the repeated chanting of the names of God. The theistic wisdom-traditions of the world declare that God extends his presence to us through his holy names. For those with devotion for God, chanting his names is the ritual to express their devotion for him. And for those who don’t yet have that devotion, chanting is the ritual to experience that devotion. Those who do away with the external ritual of chanting run the risk of making their attempts to internally think of God self-congratulatory and hallucinatory.

Why do some people want to do away with rituals altogether? Often they are disillusioned with rituals due to seeing them enacted heartlessly and perfunctorily. However, their blanket rejection of rituals generally backfires on them; it minimizes their access to the essence to a merely conceptual or superficial level.

How then can we reach the essence? By education about:

1. What the essence exactly is,

2. What the connection between the ritual and the essence is and

3. What the principles and techniques for connecting the ritual with the essence are.

By such systematic education, we will soon experience that the ritual of chanting is synonymous and synchronous with the essence of heartfelt devotion.




Why do temples spend so much money on expensive religious rituals when beggars are starving outside the temples? Wouldn’t God be more pleased if his starving children – those beggars – are fed?


It’s certainly sad to see anyone starving. If the social culture were more spiritual and less materialistic, the state officials as well as the wealthy would have a spirit of compassion and a system of charity to care for the needy. And they would also have gorgeous worship of God in temples.

Certainly, the needy should be cared for, but are caring for them and opulently worshiping God mutually exclusive? Is the worship of God really causing starvation among the poor?

If we are truly concerned about starving people, then why do we target expensive religious rituals alone? Why not target the billionaires and trillionaires who spend millions on their wardrobes and perfumes? Outside their mansions also beggars are starving. Why not target theatres, casinos, race courses, malls, sports tournaments and the like where huge amounts of money are spent on entertainment? If even a fraction of that money was used for feeding the needy, starvation could be wiped out from the entire planet. Singling out religious rituals amounts to emotionally manipulating public opinion against religion.

And actually, the gorgeous worship of God far from causing starvation decreases starvation in several ways. Such worship is an essential part of a comprehensive spiritual culture that fosters self-mastery among people. If people started living according to this spiritual culture, they would become vegetarians. They would never kill other children of God – the animals – just for satisfying their own tongues. And this shift to vegetarianism would decrease starvation globally. How? Large quantities of fodder need to be fed to the slaughterhouse animals to get just a small quantity of flesh. If people became vegetarian, all the land used to grow fodder would become available for growing grains to feed human beings. Many surveys have shown that the land required to feed one non-vegetarian person can feed three or more vegetarian people8. If everyone in the world became vegetarian, the world’s starvation problem would be substantially reduced, if not entirely solved.

Similarly, if people participated in an authentic spiritual culture, they would give up drinking alcohol. To produce alcohol, so much land that could be used to grow grains is used instead to grow sugarcane. If people stopped drinking alcohol, all that land would become available for feeding starving people.

8 “A typical diet requires up to 2.5 times the amount of land compared to a vegetarian diet.” (Zollitsch, W., Winckler, C., Waiblinger, S., and Haslberger, A. 2007. Sustainable Food Production and Ethics.Wageningen Academic Publishers).  “A farmer can feed up to 30 people throughout the year with vegetables, fruits, cereals and vegetable fats on one hectare of land. If the same area is used for the production of eggs, milk and/or meat the number of people fed varies from 5-10.” (Pachauri, R.K., Chairman IPCC 08.09.08. “Global Warning!The Impact of meat production and consumption on climate change”.)

maas khate samay aur sharab pite samay hume bhikaariyo ki yaad kyo nahi ati hai9? Many times that’s because the desire to enjoy eating meat and drinking liquor is too strong and irresistible.

Spiritual culture enables us to relish a higher happiness. This happiness empowers us to break free from the desires for lower materialistic pleasures like meat-eating and drinking, thereby freeing resources for food production. That’s how even from a practical perspective the various rituals contribute to decreasing starvation.

9 Why don’t we remember the beggars at the time of eating meat or drinking alcohol?




When God is present everywhere, why should we worship him in the temple images?


Certainly, God is present everywhere, but is he accessible to us everywhere? Water is present everywhere in the air as water vapor, but can we just hang out our tongue and access that water whenever we feel thirsty? No; we need to go to a tap. Similarly, though God is present everywhere; we need his accessible form as manifested in the temples.

The need for an accessible manifestation of God is indispensable. Even in the imaginary storyline of OMG, God appears before Kanjibhai in a materially visible form and protects him in miraculous ways. Only on seeing this form does he get converted. Thus, even a skeptic who rejects all material manifestations of God needs a material manifestation to develop his faith.

In real-life, unlike in OMG’s imaginary storyline, God doesn’t appear personally to each one of us – at least not till we are adequately purified. Then how can we access God? To help us, those saintly people who have seen him as he actually is in his transcendental form have described that form for us. Moreover, the scriptures tell us that we can and should depict God according to that description, for if we worship him devotedly he will accept our worship.

A movie scriptwriter may fictitiously make God speak that Deity worship is unnecessary, but that statement expresses the opinion of the scriptwriter, not the will of God. To know God’s will, we have to refer to the scriptures. And the scriptures strongly and repeatedly endorse Deity worship. For example, the Uddhava-Gita (Krishna’s instructions to Uddhava) comprises the largest philosophical section of the great devotional classic, the Srimad Bhagavatam, and it includes one full chapter (11.27) on Deity worship. Thus here the same Krishna in whose mouth OMG puts words condemning Deity worship speaks his actual will, enjoining Deity worship. Many other Puranas glorify Deity worship. And the Pancharatras are an entire library of books that systematically elucidate the principles and practices of Deity worship.




Is ISKCON an American organization that sends temple donations from India to America?


Answer Summary:

  1. ISKCON is not an American organization, but an international organization.
  2. ISKCON has a standard policy of each center being financially self-sustaining. So normally donations from one temple are not sent to another temple even in the same country, what to speak of outside the country.
  3. As special holy places in India like Vrindavan and Mayapur are sacred for ISKCON devotees from all over the world, they give donations for temples there. So there is indeed a flow of donations, but it is into India, not out of India.
  4. ISKCON follows the vision of Srila Prabhupada, its founder, who envisioned a global East-West partnership with India contributing spiritual wisdom and the West contributing material resources, so ISKCON uses the latest technology that might make it seem foreign to some people.
  5. Those who target ISKCON for its foreign connections are misinformed because, though ISKCON started in America, ISKCON India is run almost entirely by Indians for offering cultural and spiritual services to Indians.
  6. ISKCON’s contributions in sharing India’s spiritual culture all over the world have been appreciated by eminent statesmen, thinkers and scholars of religion.

Answer:

A video that has gone viral on youtube makes this bizarre claim. The claim is bizarre because nothing about it is true – in fact, the truth is entirely opposite to the claim. Let’s deconstruct the claim point-by-point:

1.    ISKCON is not an American organization, but an international organization.

ISKCON by its very name The International Society for Krishna consciousness points to its global mission. It was established in America in 1966 by Srila Prabhupada, but the krishna-bhakti that it intends to share with the world has been practiced in Indian for millennia. And ISKCON is the successor of an organisation that Srila Prabhupada had earlier started in India itself, the League of Devotees. So in origin, ISKCON is quintessentially Indian.

And now ISKCON has over 600 centers, spread across nearly all the countries of the world, thus fulfilling the vision implied in its name. After Srila Prabhupada, ISKCON’s leadership is now shared by a Governing Body Commission, which comprises of spiritual leaders from various parts of the world, with no nation’s leaders having any exclusive or excessive privileges. So from both its membership and leadership point of view, ISKCON is not an American organization, but an international organization.

2.    ISKCON has a standard policy that each center is financially self-sustaining. So donations from one temple are not sent to another temple even in the same country, what to speak of outside the country.

According to the teachings of the Bhagavad-gita, the sacred text that is the scriptural basis for ISKCON, every person is a soul with the spiritual potential for devotion to God, Krishna. With this principle, Srila Prabhupada wanted ISKCON to universalize krishna-bhakti by inspiring people all over the world to practice it and further share it with others. That’s why whenever he established centers anywhere in the world, he intended the local devotees there to take up the initiative for maintaining and expanding it. Accordingly, ISKCON has a standard policy of financial independence and self-sustainability for each of its center. So, there’s no transfer of donations from even one center to another even within the same country, what to speak of from one country to another. What to speak of sending donations from country to country or city to city, donations are normally not sent even within the same city from one temple to another. That’s why for example in metropolitan cities like Delhi and Mumbai where ISKCON has many temples, some are huge, some are modest and some are small, depending on the capacity of the local patrons to support the temple.

3.    As special holy places in India like Vrindavan and Mayapur are sacred for ISKCON devotees from all over the world, they give donations for temples there. So if there is any flow of donations, it is into India, not out of India.

The only exception to this principle of self-sustenance is with regards to temples in pilgrimage places that are sacred for ISKCON devotees all over the world. Srila Prabhupada wanted at these places magnificent cultural centers built around majestic temples – devotional retreats that would attract, shelter and inspire seekers from the world over. So, he encouraged temples and devotees everywhere to contribute for the devotional projects at these places. Thus, for example, for the temple in Sridhama Mayapur, near Kolkata, one of ISKCON’s prominent patrons, Alfred Ford (Ambarisha Dasa), the great-grandson of the famous American industrialist, Henry Ford, has personally contributed as well as solicited with his global contacts donations to the tune of Rs 250 crores. The Mayapur Temple is going to be the biggest Vedic temple in the world and will significantly enhance the cultural glory of India.

So, on the exceptional occasions when donations do move from one place to another, that movement is from is not from India to elsewhere, but from the rest of the world to India, to enhance India’s cultural glory by making those holy places more attractive for visitors.

4.    ISKCON follows the vision of Srila Prabhupada, its founder, who envisioned a global East-West partnership with India contributing spiritual wisdom and the West contributing material resources, so ISKCON uses the latest technology that might make it seem foreign to some people.

Srila Prabhupada wanted ISKCON to serve as a vibrant vehicle for the spiritual rejuvenation of the entire world. To this end, he applied the traditional metaphor of the blind man-lame man joining forces to progress along the way. The West having to a large extent lost its spiritual moorings due to excessive materialism is like the proverbial blind man and the East, especially India, due to its financial weakness caused largely by nearly a millennia of foreign domination and exploitation, is like the lame man. ISKCON works to integrate the strengths of both – the spiritual wisdom of India and the material expertise of the West – for offering world-class facilities for the progressive respiritualization of the whole world. ISKCON has been a pioneer in using the latest technology and other such material resources in its temples. Such things that are not seen in other traditional temples (though many other temples have also started integrating such things too) may give some undiscerning Indian nationalists the mistaken impression that ISKCON is a foreign organization. But it isn’t – it’s firmly rooted in the krishna-bhakti tradition coming from India and simply uses global resources for sharing that tradition with the world.

5.    Those who target ISKCON for its foreign connections are misinformed because, though ISKCON started in America, ISKCON India is run almost entirely by Indians for offering cultural and spiritual services to Indians.

In ISKCON’s Indian temples, non-Indian devotees are often seen, usually while they are on a pilgrimage to India. The presence of such foreigners attracts a lot of attention and may give the impression to some people that these foreigners run ISKCON. But that’s far from the truth. ISKCON was started in America in 1966 and for the first one-two decades of its history, its global leaders were primarily Americans, because they happened to be its initial members. But since the 1980s, hundreds and thousands of Indians have started practicing Krishna consciousness and they are now the prominent members and leaders of ISKCON, who actively share its cultural and spiritual gifts with fellow Indians. ISKCON India has books, courses and cultural centers customized to serve the needs, interest and concerns of Indians.

Moreover, today, ISKCON India is the leader for the rest of ISKCON with respect to number of practitioners, number of temples and number of spiritual books distributed.

So not only is ISKCON India essentially Indian, even ISKCON international has a prominent Indian presence. Hence, allegations about ISKCON’s foreign roots or connections are totally baseless.

6.    ISKCON’s contributions in sharing India’s spiritual culture all over the world have been appreciated by eminent statesmen, thinkers and scholars of religion.

Here are a few examples:

“The ISKCON movement has few parallels in the world in terms of its rapid global spread, its trans-national, trans-ethnic, and trans-professional appeal, its outward simplicity, and the devotional energy of its followers. In the less than three and a half decades since its inception it has established temples in practically all parts of the world, and many of them are marvels of beauty, such as the one that is being opened in New Delhi today. The maha-mantra of Hare Krishna Hare Rama reverberates to the dancing feet of ISKCON devotees each morning and evening in temples from Stockholm to Sao Paulo and from Miami to Mäyäpur. What ISKCON has achieved is indeed globalization of the Gita appeal.”

– Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Former Prime Minister of India

“Guess again if you think Bollywood, or Indian writing in English, is the country’s biggest cultural export. You may not come across any of these if you visit Cochabamba in Bolivia or Gaborone in Botswana, what you will find instead is a centre of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) … It is easy to see where the Krishna movement’s global appeal lies. In the midst of today’s impersonal institutions and vast bureaucratic collectivities, it promises an intimate relationship with a personal god.”

–       Times of India editorial, Jan 6, 2006

“The Hare Krishna movement arose out of next to nothing in less than twenty years and has become known all over the West. This is an important fact in the history of the Western world … for the first time since the days of the Roman Empire, an Asian religion is being openly practiced by people of western origin in the streets of western cities.”

– Dr. A.L. Basham; Eminent scholar of Hinduism, Author of A Cultural History of India

When ISKCON is striving tirelessly and selflessly for preserving and sharing India’s spiritual culture in India as well as over the world, as has been recognized by unbiased and eminent authorities, it’s unfortunate that some people with mistaken notions are making baseless allegations against it. We hope that this document clarifies the misconceptions and helps us all focus unitedly on the important work of raising global human consciousness by sharing spiritual wisdom and devotional culture.




Was Arjuna’s killing Karna when he was chariot-less not unfair, being against the kshatriya codes?


The unfairness had begun from the Kaurava side decades earlier when they tried to poison Bhima and burn the Pandavas alive.

In the Kurukshetra war, at its start the commanders of the two sides had agreed upon the codes to be followed in the war. Dhrishtadyumna, the Pandava commander, had declared that their side would not break the war codes first, but if the Kauravas broke those codes first, then the Pandavas would not let themselves be held back by the war codes.

In the ensuing battles, the kshatriya code that a chariot-less warrior should not be attacked was violated first by the Kauravas’ side. On the thirteenth day, six of their maha-rathas including Karna ganged together to kill the chariot-less Abhimanyu. So, Karna simply reaped what he had sown – he violated the code first by attacking the chariot-less Abhimanyu and was paid back in kind, as had been agreed at the start of the war.

And the unfair attack on Abhimanyu was not a one-off incident on the part of the Kauravas. On the fourteenth day when Arjuna was striving to fulfill his vow to kill Jayadratha by sunset, his horses got exhausted, and needed rest and water. While Krishna decided to lead the horses away, Arjuna had to get off the chariot. Even on seeing him chariot-less, the Kaurava forces did not stop attacking him. To the contrary, they attacked him with greater ferocity, hoping to fell him in his dangerously disadvantaged condition. Still Arjuna held them back with his expert archery while simultaneously using mystical weapons to arrange for shade and water for his horses. In an all-out war, quarters are rarely given and Arjuna didn’t ask for them – neither should Karna have asked.

Karna himself violated that specific code on the seventeenth day during his confrontation with Arjuna. When Karna sent an unstoppable mystical weapon at Arjuna’s head, Krishna forcefully pushed the chariot into the ground so that the arrow hit Arjuna’s crown instead of his head. Arjuna’s life was saved, but his chariot got stuck in the ground. While Krishna jumped off the chariot to get it out of the ground, Arjuna was disadvantaged with an immobile chariot. Karna still attacked him and Arjuna didn’t ask to be spared, but fought back and defended himself.

So in the final confrontation, Karna’s reminding Arjuna of the kshatriya code was hypocritical. When Karna tried to take the high moral ground, Krishna exposed him thoroughly by listing all the times when Karna had paid scant regard to morality. Krishna’s fitting riposte silenced Karna whose head fell in an admission of his guilt.

Krishna deciding to illustrate the principle of shatho shathyam: with the cunning, one can be cunning, asked Arjuna to shoot Karna. By countering Karna’s arguments, Krishna had signaled to Karna that Arjuna would not desist from attacking. Karna could have taken that as a warning, re-mounted his stationary chariot and resumed fighting – or he could have fought from the ground itself, as had Arjuna on the fourteenth day. His neglecting Krishna’s warning was a monumental blunder that cost him his life.




What is the ultimate goal of devotional service?


Material achievements are not the ultimate goal of devotional service. The ultimate goal of devotional service is love of Godhead. Therefore although Prahlāda Mahārāja, Dhruva Mahārāja, Ambarīṣa Mahārāja, Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja and many devotee kings were materially very opulent, they accepted their material opulence in the service of the Lord, not for their personal sense gratification. Of course, possessing material opulence is always fearful because under the influence of material opulence one may be misdirected from devotional service. Nonetheless, a pure devotee (anyābhilāṣitā-śūnyam (Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu 1.1.11)) is never misdirected by material opulence. On the contrary, whatever he possesses he engages one hundred percent in the service of the Lord. When one is allured by material possessions, they are considered to be given by māyā, but when one uses material possessions fully for service, they are considered God's gifts, or facilities offered by Kṛṣṇa for enhancing one's devotional service.
(SRIMAD BHAGAVATAM--------7:10:1--------PURPORT).

Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu continued, “The Supreme Personality of Godhead is the central point of all relationships, acting in devotional service to Him is one's real occupation, and the attainment of love of Godhead is the ultimate goal of life. These three subject matters are described in the Vedic literature.
(SRI CAITANYA CARITAMRTA------2:6:178-------TRANSLATION).

"The goal of love of Godhead is not to become materially rich or free from material bondage. The real goal is to be situated in devotional service to the Lord and to enjoy transcendental bliss."
(SRI CAITANYA CARITAMRTA------2:20:142-------TRANSLATION).

One may enjoy fruitive activities, liberation, jñāna, or the perfection of the yoga system, but if one becomes very intelligent he will give up all these paths and engage himself in sincere devotional service to the Lord. The Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam also confirms (2.3.10) that even if a person desires material enjoyment or liberation, he should engage in devotional service. Those who are ambitious to derive material benefit from devotional service are not pure devotees, but because they are engaged in devotional service they are considered fortunate. They do not know that the result of devotional service is not material benediction, but because they engage themselves in the devotional service of the Lord they ultimately come to understand that material enjoyment is not the goal of devotional service. Kṛṣṇa Himself says that persons who want some material benefit in exchange for devotional service are certainly foolish because they want something which is poisonous for them. The real goal of devotional service is love of Godhead, and although a person may desire material benefits from Kṛṣṇa, the Lord, being all-powerful, considers the person's position and gradually liberates him from a materially ambitious life and engages him more in devotional service. When one is actually engaged in devotional service, he forgets his material ambitions and desires.
(TEACHINGS OF LORD CAITANYA).