KC and World Religions 2 – Christianity 1

by Chaitanya Charan dasMay 16, 2012

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Christianity, we will discuss their origin. The similarities and differences in their beliefs, powers and thirdly we will discuss any interactions that our traditions may have had with them. In our previous class we discussed about Judaism, its origin and its spread and how Christianity have originated from within in and then diversified into a separate religion. The conjugation of idles is on central point of contentions between the Abrahamic and Dharmic religions. So today we will focus on Christianity. First we are going to discuss about Abrahamic religions then if we complete Christianity today we will go into the Islam in the next class. After that we will complete Dharmic religions. Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism. When we look at Christianity generally, every religious tradition have its center set of books and set of events. So all religious traditions in one sense has historical defining moments. It’s like for us appearance of Lord Krishna 5000 years ago, at next level the appearance of Lord Caitanya  500 years ago and also the spreading of Krishna consciousness by Srila Prabhupada in the last 50 years. These times and History becomes like the mental homes for the followers of the tradition. That means in times of test and trouble the followers take shelter in remembrance of those times how God acted and protected during those times and they take in solace and inspiration. In that sense the religion is characterized by in one sense looking backwards. We are looking back in the history. But this in and itself does not make religion backward sounding. All religions in general also has some sort of  prophecy for the future. That means in the past God acted things were wonderful and in the future things are going to be fine . In general we live primarily based on our memories and our hopes. So the  present is what we have to live with. That life in the material world is never very exciting or joyful. So the materialists create their memories of their happy old times when they were enjoying sense gratification and they have hopes of the future. In that sense whether people are materialists or spiritualists they are ultimately human being and we human beings live with our memory and our hopes. So what the religious tradition does is it expands and spiritualized our memories. Of course how successfully the religion tradition does will vary according to the tradition’s depth of understanding of the  universal truths of life. But in this sense the religious traditions spiritualize the past through the memories of sacred events. And they spiritualize the future by hopes of better future in the near or distant future. So Christianity was founded on this future hope of Messiah coming.  Messiah will come and deliver the Jews from political and the cultural operation. When Jesus came he was crucified and departed and there was no substantial transformation in the political situation of the followers. They were still persecuted. From there emerge the hope of second coming of Jesus. Jesus came and gave this message and he will come again and at that time he will reward those who live according to the message. Many churches have that hope that there will be a second coming of the Jesus in the future. At that time the kingdom of God will be created on the earth. This is something which is substantially different between Karma Kandi religion and Para Dharma Religions. If we look at Srila Prabhupada statements about Christianity, his attitude fall in two broad categories if somebody was a nominal Christian just born in the Christian family and occasionally going to the church, not really committed to Christianity. Prabhupada would encourage that person to practice Krishna consciousness. Most of the early members of our movement from America were  either Christians or Jews. At the same time Srila Prabhupada respected Jesus as the son of God. Srila Prabhupada even say that Jesus is their Guru, who sacrificed his life for the sake of God. Somebody has so much love for God, that person is glorious. When Srila Prabhupada met people who were committed to Christianity, his attitude was ‘You follow Jesus first’. One of the main thing you should follow is ‘Thou shalt not kill animals’. In that sense, Srila Prabhupada would approach was has a universality and confidentiality. That means there are certain aspects of the religions that are confidential. The principle that we had, there is order to the world with God in center and we have to harmonize with that  order by having devotion. That is something which is common. But still within the GV tradition there is something which is confidential. Confidential means secret, which is not there. It is the detailed scripture of who God is and how he deal with his devotees in the spiritual world. So there is much which is not there in this tradition. That’s why Universality and Confidentiality, these two thing we are going to discuss. Over these seminars. What are the features that are universal and what are the features that are distinctive to our tradition. We of course are not going to go deep into our tradition. We are going to focus on exploring the other traditions. So Jesus lived for around 33 years and he was crucified after that.  Jesus was born and brought up as a Jew, of course from the age of 12 to the age of 29 there is nothing that is known about him. What he did, where he lived, how he acted. Many people had different theories about what he did. Many people claimed that Jesus is also came to India and there are books about Jesus came to India. Srila Prabhupada in one of the  Yatra lecture the second Ratha Yatra that was there. He said your Jesus, he is also worshipper of Jagannath. He came to India and he went to Jagannatha Puri. There was a book that Srila Prabhupada read called The Aquarian Gospel, based on that Srila Prabhupada was quoting that. Ravindra swarup prabhu was one of the Srila Prabhupada disciple, so he asked Srila Prabhupada. The name is Gospel but many people appropriate the religious sounding names for their own purposes. For example in India some Brahmans got converted into Christianity and they have written a book called Christ Upanishad. So what happens is use a religious sounding term and a book that is not in the canon of religious books ( Cannon means set of books that are considered holy in a tradition).  So the Aquarian Gospel is a most recent book, few hundred years ago. That is not really considered as a scripture. So Ravindra swarup Prabhu asked Srila Prabhupada, ” Prabhupada is this Aquarian Gospel good?  Is this a bonafide book?”.  Srila Prabhupada said what is the problem, the he again asked ” is the Aquarian Gospel bonafide book”. Prabhupada smiled and said the part of Jesus going to Jagannatha Puri is good. The point is we have the principle of ” Anukulyasa sankalpa, pratikul yasya vajranam’. So I mentioned in the previous class there is something called itheria Historical record means apart from the scriptural pramanas, if there is something historical records that can supplement and substantiate further the knowledge that is given in the scriptures that is acceptable. Of course the significance is that Prabhupada never quoted that in his interactions with Christians. Like the times when some Christian priest came to meet Srila Prabhupada and some of the devotees  tried to quote from the Bible in order to prove something to them and Prabhupada said don’t try, don’t quote from the Bible. He says that they will never accept us as authorities on the Bible. Of course he quoted ‘ thou shalt not kill’, but after that he spoke some logic – ‘ How you say that animals does not have soul”. Srila Prabhupada focused on universal principles and when Srila Prabhupada was asked about the Bhavishya Purana also, he said that everything that is there in Bhavishya purana is perfect. Of course Srila Prabhupada did not go further in that direction. So in the Bhavishya Purana there is Pratisarga parva, where the prediction of Jesus is given. Pratisarga Varga is considered by the scholars to be highly interpolated. Interpolation means that there is a scripture, a book and somebody writes something in the book which is not originally written by the author. That is called as interpolation. So there are books that are interpolated. We shall see how much in the Bible is interpolated and Srila Prabhupada says about that also, about the bible. In the same pratisarga parva there is a reference is not just to Jesus but there are other so many political personalities also mentioned, even Queen Victoria is also mentioned over there. Queen Victoria is not really any spiritual personality. So the authenticity of that is somewhat dubious and Srila Prabhupada said that everything in there is perfect but Srila Prabhupada never quoted himself. It is quite likely that Srila Prabhupada could have referred to the Bhavishya purana in its original state  of being perfect, but the interpolations may or may not be perfect. So we don’t deny that and we don’t highlight that. Historically speaking what Bhavishya purana talks about that Maharaj Shalivahan went to North India towards the Himalayas and there he met a personality with a beard, tall, fair looking and that person said that I am considered as a Prophet by Meltys and I have taught them the religion of worship of the fire and the sun and I have born of a Virgin and his name is Isha Masih. Isha means Vedic rendition of Jesus. If we look at the four points which were said over there two are fine that they agree to the point of Jesus being the teacher for Mathayas and it is thought of as said in the bible that he is born of a virgin. But Jesus as far as we know never taught of worship of Sun and fire and also if we look at the historical record whether Shalivahan existed at the time when Jesus came to India, that is not very clear. Therefore even within the Vedic scriptures we focus on quoting that which our Acharyas have quoted. Apart from that we quote that which supplements our acharyas have quoted. So now if we quote that Jesus came to India and Jesus is predicted in the Bhavishya purana, what exactly are we going to prove by this.  We could be talking about the Universality of Vedic literature or we could be just talking about the expansiveness of Hindu ego like how our religion is so great. But Srila Prabhupada focused primarily on encouraging people to rise their God consciousness. So if Christians follow Christianity they become God conscious that way also. That’s why with respect to both these points about how Jesus came to India and Jesus being predicted in the Bhavishya Purana, if we see Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur and Bhaktivinoda Thakur they have not quoted these sections. Although Bhaktivinoda Thakur wrote substantially about Christianity and he himself explored Christianity before coming to Krishna consciousness still he has not mentioned that.  That’s why it’s best not to get into that zone. Many people who quote this often quote that just for the purpose of using their religious tradition to massage their false ego. That means ‘Just see how great my religion is’. Well if it’s really great, show it by becoming a great devotee, you don’t have to really go about and prove it in this sense. Of course different devotees may have different stand on that, but we don’t have a clear cut case on this. Anyway the historical fact reminds that 18 years of Jesus life is unaccountable. Then he started his preaching and he preached in a way to reform the existing Jewish Synagogue and Jewish racism is over there. His reformation provoked the local people and at time the area where the Jews were living was under Roman empire. So the local Jews tied him and they condemned him for claiming to be the son of God. They said this is a blasphemy, but for this blasphemy they could have punished they could him exterminated him from the religion. They could have thrown him out of the religion, but beyond that there was no punishment possible. They further said to the Roman ruler over there, they told them that he is also conspiring a political revolution against the Roman empire. Of course to some extent he was saying that he is the son of God and the people were trying to make him the king. So because of this claim of political revolution they have him crucified.  Now  when he was crucified they talk about scriptural interpolation, there are wildly differing accounts with in the Bible itself of what actually happened, when Jesus  was crucified. These are basically old testament we talked about is the sacred book of the Jews and the new testament is the sacred book of the Christians. So in this which is there in the Gospels ( Gospels refer to the books Or just the truth that is revealed from God). In the Bible Gospel refers to the narrower sense those books that talk about the activities of Jesus. So there are these four books  Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. They all give the activities of Jesus. It is significant that there are substantial differences and even contradictions in their account of Jesus life. Beyond that there are acts of Jesus means, how the 12 apostles were there and how they went to different places and preached is also given. Letters this is primarily what pal who was one of the apostles, he wrote the letters ( because he was preaching over a large area)  to different people. They contain the instructions which he had received from Jesus as  understood by apostles, they  are also considered to be a part of the Bible . These are known by geographical area. For example Romans means the letter he wrote to the Romans, like that. Of course it’s not only Pal there are others like Kenneth, Peter etc. All of them were apostles and they also wrote. Last book revelation is about the future and this describe the final battle between the god and Satan is going to happen and after that God is going to kill Satan and then the kingdom of God will be manifested in the earth. So if we look at these books, among these books the revelation has often been a source of embarrassment from any Christians. Because in general many religions, especially Christians try to use the fear of the doomsday to incite people to become serious. Srila Prabhupada said at one time that in 1970s  that world war -III will take place. Then the devotees asked, then what shall we do? Srila Prabhupada said, ” You chant Hare Krishna, you don’t have to do anything else”. They asked will this help us to preach better, if people know that there is going to be a war? Prabhupada said, “No, there are always Birth, old age, disease and death. What the  make people into devotees is not the threat of war but the preaching of Krishna Consciousness. The point is that many Christians have used this doomsday. That soon the world is going to be destroyed and surrender to Jesus. Their idea is those who have surrendered to Jesus before Judgment day, they will be eternally going to heaven and everyone else are eternally going to hell. This is how they try to inspire or provoke people to surrender. But what has happened is many of their priests have predicted the doomsday to come. So there was a organization that predicted that dooms day will come in 1985. 1985 came and went and there was no destruction. Then they said Jesus is too merciful he has given you two more years, doomsday will come after this time. Like that there is a whole list of doomsday prophecies. Lot of intelligent Christians have abandoned this doomsday as the tool for preaching. Because now they say that actually when God will arrive at the Judgment day, it depends upon God’s will and we can’t know about it. But this tool of using a fear to provoke people to take to religion. If see fifth canto of Srimad Bhagavatam talks about the hellish planets, but if we look at the lectures of Srila Prabhupada or his purports how often does he talk about? Not much. Srila Prabhupada inspired people to practice Krishna consciousness based on philosophy and based on higher taste. You are not the body, you are the soul. Chanting Hare Krishna, taking prasad, rendering services, Dancing in Kirtan he gave them the higher taste. We talked about fear, desire, duty, love at different levels of practicing God consciousness. Fear is a motivation to seeking to God consciousness, but when that becomes the primary motivation that creates a very negative conception of God and that doesn’t work. Srila Prabhupada never used that. If you look at the Christian teaching, most of us have heard about 10 commandments. These are ten commandments:

Ten Commandments:

  1. Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.
  2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.
  3. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
  4. Remember and keep the Sabbath day holy.
  5. Honor your father and your mother.
  6. Thou shalt not Kill.
  7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
  8. Thou shalt not steal.
  9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against your neighbor.
  10. Thou shalt not covet.

 

Of course, as I said when we come to scriptures, the Biblical scriptures there are lot of things that are uncertain. So there are different books with in the Bible and the ten commandments  have been stated separately in separate ways. Of course much of it is similar, but there are some that are different.

You shall I have no other God before me.

Why are we discussing this? We are discussing to see the fear, duty, desire, love where does Christianity actually stand. Others the second is it is one of the commandments, you shall not make for yourselves an ideal. So this is the direct commandment in the tradition. Of course we discussed last time about their understanding about idle is different from Vedic understanding. But still, it’s a important commandment and here we have ten commandments are a part of the Old testament. Not a part of new testament. Jesus reiterated them. Now if you see these sort of statements for either I the Lord, your God and I am a Jealous God, punishing children for impiety of parents. The third and fourth generations of those  who reject me. That means if the parents reject me, not only the parents I will punish, I will punish the children and their grand children and their great grand children, the second third generations. So this portrays the idea of the vengeful God. Vengeful God means God who is angry with humanity and is out to punish the humanity. This conception of God along with similar preaching strategy used by many Catholics and Christian churches in the middle ages led to the intellectual alienation of people towards God. So because of that, that is one of the main reasons why Science was found to be more appealing and there is like atheistic evolution to fruit. Because when the God is portrayed as negative, this is not the only portrayal of God that is there in the Old testament and new testament, but the point is this is what has highlighted. It repels intelligent people. Beyond that you shall make a wrong to use the name of the Lord. Some Christians used to say that you should not chant the name so Lord only. Some Christians say that you cannot write the name of God. Of course what is the use of said over here is that you should not , like we have the concept of Nama aparadha, it’s something similar. We should not abuse the holy name and treat it casually. If we there are many are there, remaining things if we see are :

(ii). You should honor your mother and father and

you should not commit adultery

You shall not steal

You should not bear pal witness

You should not Covet your neighbor’s house

You should not Covet your neighbor’s wife and things like that.

If we it’s a overall largely mundane morality.

 

There  may be some talking about devotion to God initially but beyond that it is mainly mundane morality and mundane morality is important but it is not all important. If we see within these regulative principles , these ten commandments, there is no direct instruction for doing any kind of Sadhana. There is no direct instruction for doing some sort of positive activity that connect people to God on a regular basis.   This what has caused many seekers to act as material level, they become nominal religious. I was talking with problems if we see Prabhupada would quote this from the Luke, ” Father forgive them, for they know not what they do”. That Jesus was very forgiving at the time of death. But then Luke’s bible comes later, Mathew’s was the earlier. So Matthew says that Jesus was actually very fearful and distressed when he was being tortured and persecuted and then he cried out, ” My God, my God, why have thou forsaken me” and then he died. Srila Prabhupada in letter to Satsvarupa Maharaj points this out that actually he talks about this the author of the fourth Gospel. He says that it is convention to put words in the mouth of the Jesus. Therefore he says, if we compare that with letter by Srila Prabhupada to Satyaswaroop Maharaj, Sat swaroop Maharaj has written that he had met some Christian who had given him some pamphlet. He asked how should I respond to this pamphlet. This means that the church people can no more can convince the advance educated men of the present day. In other place he says and discussing the  ten commandments of the Bible about the sanctity of human life. Instead of exactly quoting the commandments ‘thou shalt not kill’, you replace it by your own words, ‘ Thou shalt not murder’. But you don’t know how his own words reflect the then society where in Lord Jesus Christ was prosecuted. To say to audience ‘The audience do not murder means they were very much accustomed to commit murders’. So what is the position of that society where the members are accustomed to commit murders and what class of preaching can be made to such persons. As we see in other religious principle, there is instruction that ‘Hence forward you shall not cohabit with your mother’. So we have to Judge such societies where there are murderers and those having sex life with their mothers. What kind of men they are? In the Bhagavad Gita there are principles are divided into three categories. In the modes of Goodness, Passion and ignorance. Generally all so called principles are in the modes of passion and ignorance. May be there are some moral instructions, but the moral instructions without God consciousness is impossible to follow. Here Srila Prabhupada is saying that if we look at from the Bhagavad Gita perspective its goodness, passion and ignorance. Srila Prabhupada does talk about how there Jesus talks about loving God ultimately. In that sense it is at one level Bhakti. But Lord Kapila dev, talks about in the third canto how Bhakti can be in the mode of Goodness, passion and ignorance. Srila Prabhupada says at the practical level these religions are influenced. If we look at the contents of their instructions, they are largely influenced by the modes of passion and ignorance. Now we go the second issue of the textual integrity of Biblical literature. The books name, In another place a gentleman quotes one book, written by a professor Charles Smith. The book’s name is The Paradox of Jesus in the Gospel. In this book it is admitted the all the statements in the Bible are not directly spoken by Jesus. Some of them are straight from the mouth of Jesus Christ and specifically this passage, ‘ I am the way to the truth and the light and no man can under the father but by me’. This is a statement that Christians use to say that you cannot go to God except through Jesus. The basis of their exclusivism. Exclusivism means their idea is that it only through Jesus that people will go back to God. If you don’t accept Jesus as Saviour then these people have to suffer in Hell. This is also as I said alienating lot of people, because it rises lot of serious issues. if a child dies prematurely before he is Baptized what happens to the child? He did not become a Christian even though he was born in a Christian family. Still he has to go to hell forever. What if a child had still birth and dies in the womb? What happened to the people before Jesus came to this planet? What happens to all the people who dies without coming in contact with Christianity? So are all those people meant to go to hell? So unfortunately most of the Abrahamic religions Like Christianity, Islam and Judaism, they are largely exclusivists. Exclusivists means this is the only way. Srila Prabhupada is quoting this person to say that actually this is not spoken by Jesus it is interpolated later. Later the others people had put in the mouth of Jesus. Of course we did Back to Godhead issue on Krishna consciousness and  Christianity also. That Sathyaraj Prabhu written a book called swabhav days  to go back to the original Hebrew  and the original language in the Bible is given. Even if this verse is there that is actually saying only presently. Presently there is no way to God except through me. But the same principle is not meant to be for all of eternity but this Prabhupada is saying is the interpolation. This gentle man had admitted that it is put into the mouth of Jesus. Because that is the literary convention of the author of the fourth Gospel. Such kinds of observations, definitely suggest that there are many passages in the Gospel which are later on setup to be spoken by Lord Jesus Christ. But actually they were manufactured by different devotees. If we see Srila Prabhupada’s bluntness and still respectfulness. He is saying manufactured and at the same time he is calling them devotees also. They manufactured they put later,  but he is saying that they had some faith in God and Jesus and they are devotees. So far our Bhagavad Gita is concerned we do not find any such things. Every where it is stated ‘ Sri Bhagavan uvaca’ the supreme personality of Godhead said and all the acharyas has accepted that these words as they are spoken by the Lord. No authorized acharya has ever commented as it was put into the mouth of Krishna or Vyasadeva or Sanjay or any other person. So from the historical point of view also the Shankaracharya wrote his commentary on Bhagavad-Gita more than 1300 years ago. If we look at his Gita commentary and today’s Gita, it’s the same. So in that sense it’s quite historically demonstrated.

 

Now this is this  is the most important point of this lecture. If we meet Christian we should not tell them that this is the passage interpolated. It only create havoc. Prabhupada is telling us, ” I gave you all these hints not for general discussion but for your personal understanding to know the respective positions of different types of religious principles. So, not for general discussion. We don’t have to go about condemning the religions disturbing the people’s faith and basically creating the resonance. The devotees go just raise God consciousness of people. Now we know by Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s mercy that we have been given a process by which God consciousness can be raised rapidly. But if others are following the a path by which also they can develop God consciousness not as rapidly we don’t have to disturb their faith. So Srila Prabhupada says not for your discussion but for your personal understanding.  So this  letter actually and what was spoken by Srila Prabhupada over here was the basis that has inspired me take-up this discussion. This is not for preaching for everyone, but to know the respectful position of various types of religious principles. Ours is transcendental because they are not very much concerned about minor moral immoral principles. Although each and every devotee is a first class moralist. But our religious principles, our natural occupational duty is to learn how to love Krishna. We are practicing this in the teachings. So PP’s conclusion is not that we should go and ask Christianity . Let us steadily stick to our principles and our movement will surely come out successful. This is Srila Prabhupada’s stand. So, at one level Srila Prabhupada encourages people to follow Krishna Conscious or God consciousness whatever  level they are but those who candid commit, we should know their respective level, we should know the gift that we have got, by the mercy of Lord Chaitanya and Lord Krishna and of course Srila Prabhupada. So now going back, there are contradictions like this. Historically Christianity after the crucifixion of Jesus seven weeks after that, first all the disciples were completely broken down. What happened, how he was the son of God how could he not protect himself. They are broken down. Then they later some of them had the sighting that the Jesus got resurrected again. Some of them saw Jesus walking and then once they were waiting in a particular building they felt the spirit of God descend up on. They felt that the Jesus was alive and Jesus was still blessing them and empowering them. So it was from historical point of view this attitude of the followers of Jesus that transformed the calamity into an opportunity. For them the crucifixion of Jesus was a calamity but  their response to it rather than thinking, “Oh we are alone, we are bereaved, we are lost and there is nothing that we can do”. They took it as Jesus died for our sins and now it is for us to die for his cause. Do whatever is required. That response was critical for the survival and success  of Christianity afterwards. They went around started preaching so one of the apostles was Pal. Pal personally never met Jesus but he was later on influenced from a miracle and he went and preached in Rome. So at that time basically between Pal and other apostles there was serious difference of opinion because most of the other apostles felt that Jesus was also Jew and what he taught was reformation of Jew religion. But Pal and some of the others felt that actually what Jesus has come and given a new law, a new covenant and a new testament. His focus was, Jesus  by his death has saved us and he has died for our sins. By this attitude he shifted the focus from living a life of morality to spirituality accepting Jesus as savior. This shift was somewhat unfortunate, because the shift was from practical transformation to acceptance in faith. That made Christianity a little non-spiritual at the practical level. But Pal was hugely successful in his preaching and eventually Pal was also martyred, the Roman Emperor Nero who used to kill anybody who opposed him. So the two apostles Peter and Pal, they were burned by him and many of these Christians were persecuted and they did undergo lot of suffering. We shouldn’t think because of the these interpolations and things like this that actually Christianity itself not bonafide. Ultimately if a soul desires to serve God and tries to do that God reciprocates. They were expelled by the Rome and they shared the Gospel that they got. Till the fourth century Christians were highly persecuted. But in the fourth century what happened was decisive. At that time the Roman Empire was there all over and the Roman Empire was persecuting Christians. But the Roam king that time Constantine found that his population was largely immoral and the people are highly immoral if becomes It becomes highly impossible to administer them materially.  What to speak of spiritually. Material administration becomes difficult if people are not trustworthy. He looked around and he found that the Christians were among the primary the people who have moral. He met some Christians and he got inspired by them and he adopted Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire. That was almost like overnight, being a persecuted religion, it became the official state religion. That was from being prosecuted to propagated by the state. Sometimes we may feel how will Krishna conscious spread all over the world.  But there are these historical watershed movements then suddenly the things can change. After that Christians became quite influential and it is unfortunate again in history that the Christians were persecuted earlier, now became the persecutors. That means anybody who oppose Christianity they did the same thing that was done to them earlier. They started persecuting them. Now from the third century onwards, till almost the seventeenth and eighteenth century Christianity had a strong hold on practically  all of Europe. The Christian pope for all practical purposes was in many ways the king of the kings. He was a very influential person. Of course for Christians to clearly understand the theology, that means who was the Jesus actually. Was Jesus God? Was he the son of God? Was he both? what was he actually. This took almost three centuries for them to decide. They had the faith that Jesus was some way connected to the God. It takes time to resolve theological problems, it’s not something that happens overnight. But overall they started spreading. In the tenth century was the first major split in Christianity, where the church got divided into Catholic church and orthodox church. The Orthodox church was in the Eastern Europe and the capital was Constantinople. The Catholic church capital was in Rome. Both continued to spread in their own way and in the fifteenth century, there was another split. That was between Catholic church and the protestant church. Both in the Russian area and in Europe there were in power but we see power perhaps and absolute power corrupt. So what happened was from Fourteenth and fifteenth century onwards that the Catholics wanted to build big churches to demonstrate the glory of Christianity which is fine. To build the big churches they wanted money and to get money the pope at time had adopted or propagated a very devious way.  He started the system of selling indulgences, means Ok this is the sin you’ve committed you donate this much money, you will be forgiven by God for that sin. This sin this much money and you will be forgiven. This actually doesn’t have any president in the Bible directly. Jesus talks about the repentance of heart not a state of financial transfer of money. But unfortunately that happened and there were some Christians who rebelled against it.  Martin Luther was one such Cristian. He started what is called as protestant movement. Then the protest movement basically spread very rapidly, because there lot of people who were discontented and more importantly there were kings who would resented the authority of Pope and the kings used Protestantism. Protestants comes from the word protest. Protestants were those who protested against the authority of church. Then there was about a hundred years there was a bloody war in Christianity all across the Europe. Between the Catholics church and the countries ruled by the catholic church. Of course, countries as we know them they are only received in their existence, but the kingdoms that were there at that time. The kingdoms ruled by the Catholic churches and the kingdoms ruled by the protestant kings. There was a huge war. If we see the history of Christianity especially in the middle ages, some people call these middle ages as dark ages. It was quite unfortunate. As the Europe became divided between Catholics and protestants, in England there were protestants. In Portuguese and Spain there were Catholics. So eventually they had the idea that we have to spread the word of Jesus. So the Catholics  went westwards and the protestants came eastwards. The Catholics went to South America in the eighteenth and nineteenth Centuries and the Protestants, if we see India it is primarily occupied by France and Britain. Of course Britain occupied overall afterwards. It was protestant courtiers. So they went to south America and they practically destroyed the full culture over there. They converted people who were not ready to be converted and they completely destroyed them. Pope John paul -II was a broad minded spiritual leader and he gave a list of almost a list of almost hundred apologies for what the church had done throughout the history. One of the apology that he gave was for the intolerance that the Church exhibited towards the other religious traditions. He apologized for the destruction of mesoAmerican religious traditions. Of course he did not apologies for the inquisition that had happened in Goa. Among all over India, Protestants came through Bengal. Bengal was the first Indian state that was conquered by the Britishers and Portuguese were ruling Goa. The Portuguese were Catholics. They also did a lot of unfortunate things in Goa, but overall the India was largely influenced still after independence by protestants. Then afterwards Catholics came and spread very rapidly. If we see when the Christians came to India, we will just take over two incidents. Two symmetrical points in their interactions. Initially when the Christians came to India, they felt that this Hindu culture is a very abominable culture. Because there is so many stone idols that are that are being worshipped and not only one idle, there are so many idols that are being worshipped. All of them were of different varieties. They had three main criticism against Hinduism. One was idolatry and second was Caste system the discrimination that it caused and the third was polytheism, that you worship many Gods.  They use that, if we see in 17, 18 and 19th centuries the time when Bhaktivinoda Thakura and Bhaktisiddhanta  Saraswati thakura was living that was the time when Christians were aggressively intellectually trying to proselytize to convert people. But they tried it for more than a hundred two hundred years, but they found that these Hindus not many of them became converted. What happened  was Hindus, wherever they found that the criticism was valid, they try to reform their own tradition. Actually if we see from Ram Mohan Roy, then to Saraswati, Swami Vivekananda, all these people they were largely responding to the Christian criticism. Of course we can say it’s a matter of debate whether they reformed Hinduism or deformed Hinduism. In some ways they did remove certain practices like Sati. They did get them outlawed, but in some other ways . One thing that happened with Christianity was there is no positive description of God, God’s Kingdom and activities of God with his devotees. So Christians get their higher taste primarily by converting other to their religion. There is not so much of higher taste so much of higher taste directly in connection with God. Of course there have been great Christian saints. There is Saint Francis, St. Benedict, who were renounced monks and they inspired large monasteries of people to follow them. But the point is largely their idea of religion was that we should share the Gospel of God with others and convert others to your path and that is your glory. So the one wing of conversion that they adopted after trying to criticize Hinduism for almost 200 years. There are books that are written on this topic. They found that the Hindus are not going to get converted. Then they decided to change their strategy. Instead of trying to convert  them directly, let us go to their roots. So they focussed on two main things, one is education and second is social service. Through this they went to the roots. For education, they will change the big people think and through the social service they started influencing and converting lot of people. There were Hindu leaders, who responded to say this by calling slogans like ” Manava seve hi madhava seva hai” and  what they try to do is, Christians are doing social service we Hindus also do social service and we can be better than you. You say all people are children of God and we say all people are God only. Our acharyas Bhaktisiddhanta  Saraswati thakura, Bhaktivinoda Thakura Not that they are against social service for say. But the way it was propagated was that social service is not just equivalent to devotional service but social service is the best form of devotional service. Because instead of seeing the God just in the idle you see God in the hearts of poor people and serve them. It actually invokes the mundane sentiments among the people and confuses them what is the mundane sentiments and what is the devotional  sentiment. So this was what our acharyas have condemned. Not social service.  We have Maharaj Sibi and Maharaj Ranti Dev exhibiting compassion which is largely at bodily level. But what is condemned is this misuse of philosophy for utilitarian purposes. This is interpretation of philosophy. Our tradition’s interactions with Christianity, we see Bhaktivinoda Thakura  himself was studied Christianity very deeply then he was introduced to Krishna Consciousness and as far as Bhaktisiddhanta  Saraswati thakura we have known his way of preaching in other places. Two three professors came to interact with him. But Srila Prabhupada focused on these two ways, one is that if you are already a committed Christian practice Christianity  in God consciousness. If not take to Krishna conscious path and rise your spiritual status and become spiritually advanced. So as of now  we see that Christianity is rapidly converting in India. Some of them are using the immoral means. Most of them use material, financial aspects to convert people. But there is one thing about Christians is that there is one thing that is there. Many of their Christians are very committed to their cause. Ultimately from the material point of view, there is a religious marketplace. Whoever does the best marketing and whoever does the best customer service the customers will go to them. If we see Bhaktivinoda Thakura says that I feel inspired by the way the  Karmis work for sense gratification and I feel I should work like that for Krishna consciousness for spreading Krishna’s message. So in that spirit, I will conclude with one incident:

 

There was one south Indian, Narayanan he said he found out how much Christian missionary activities actually in India. So he wrote he found out 25 missionary organizations and he wrote letters to all of them saying that I am interested in Christianity please can you send me some literature.  Within a very short time, within a week or ten days 20 of them sent letters with pamphlets and some books also. Remaining not only sent letter also they people to come and meet him directly. There was one letter he wrote to a missionary of organization in America and around twenty days after that he got a call from Local Bishop, from a church which was only a couple of Kilometers away from him. He said, ” I heard that you are interested in knowing more about Jesus. Can you come and meet me”. When he went there he found that actually this Bishop had the letter which he had sent to America. He said, ” How did you get that letter?” Then he showed him this big book of Church yellow pages. All the places that the churches are there in the world. Letter had gone to America and from America it had come back to this church because this church was the closest where you were living. Then this person received him so warmly. You compare this with when we send a letter to America and that letter goes from America to India and then you get a phone call. In Contrast with that when Hindus goes to Jagannatha puri temple, they have to push each other and make their way through and the pandas want money from them. So you the public perception that comes, if people have some religious inclination. They feel Ok this is one way to God and that is another way to God. Here I am treated well. That is how Krishna wants his devotees. People ultimately have a longing to go towards God and most people are not actually intellectual. Most people will go by feelings. If we can give them the feel of the culture of Krishna consciousness, and we see that the devotees say that Prabhupada as perfect gentle man. We have the philosophy that we can market and the culture also we can  attract many many people to Krishna’s lotus feet and with the rapid path of Krishna consciousness. Thank you very much!!

 

Q1. You have explained the reason between the Catholics and protestants, What was the reason Orthodox got separated?

A: There are technical issues that’s why I didn’t go into that. Orthodox and Catholics they had a differing ideas about  what exactly the nature of Jesus, they have the idea of God simultaneously one and three. They have God, the holy spirit, and Jesus. Sometimes the holy spirit is called as holy ghost. At some time Srila Prabhupada was asked about the Holy Ghost. Prabhupada said all ghosts are unholy. The point is Catholics had the idea that the holy ghost comes though both God and Jesus. The Orthodox Christians had the idea that holy ghost comes only through God, not through Jesus. It will be like a small trivial detail. But in anything that happens there are further issues also, cultural, political issues. So basically they did not feel that the Pope should be the unilateral authority for whole church. So in the Orthodox, they have many organizations within them and all of their heads are considered to be equal. Although the chief Bishop of Constantinople is the most respected, but he  does not have authority on everyone else. So it is like he is the first among the equals. So basically some theological issues along with some issues of about Power.

 

Q2.  Its very easy to be good to a new person, because we have to be just superficial, like say some good words. But then on a long run are they able to maintain up that level of attention through words for one who comes to them?

A: Are the Christians are able to maintain the level of care for the people throughout?  Not really. Again we shouldn’t think of all Christians as one homogeneous unit. In Christians there are so many varieties. In fact among the division of Catholics and protestants, there are 50, 000 protestant groups. So there are so many division and everyone has their own individual ideas.  Some of them are quite satvik, Some of them are vegetarian also. Some of them are quite aggressive. So it’s not one. Ultimately how it works is in every society there are some individuals who are intellectually oriented, some individuals are emotionally refined. Some individuals who are spiritually evolved and they look around and they see where is the path where I can go spiritually. They take that and it depends upon on their caliber how much that religion gets represented properly. If we see, in the Indian history also Shankaracharya philosophically not even great.  We will discuss about that. But what spreads was that person’s charisma.  So, it depends up on ultimately the generation of the leaders who are there. Christianity is wide spread and the people who are there in that society when they want to learn about God, that’s what more easily accessible. So there are surely Christians who are much more refined and talk about taking care of people and there are others who are quite insensitive they are just concerned with the numbers. This many people converted. I was invited  one time to a interfaith. It was a conference organized by the  Christian denomination on Aids and religion and I was invited to present a Hindu perspective on it. Radheshyam Prabhu asked to me to go because you can speak English very well you can go there. When I went there I saw very strange, there is Prof. Thomas from Los Elga, Prof. John from Kopergaon, from all villages and talukas from India, all these western sounding names. I am wondering and when I went there all these people, all of them are envious. All of them were Hindus, but the names have been converted and when I started speaking in English most of them did not know English. So I have to eventually give the class in Hindi. Then when I was quoting Bhagavad-Gita, many of them were repeating Bhagavad-Gita also. So then I talked with the head, who had organized, he was a foreigner. So they have the system that, if you convert fifty people in a village, we will build a church for you and we will make you the Bishop of the church. If you convert five hundred people, the we will give you a free trip to Europe and America. So they have their own material allurements. they have their own material allurements. they have their own material allurements and that’s how they convert. The point is again it depends up on individual to individual. These people who became Bishops in the church, they knew Bhagavad Gita, they know Hindi, but the Christians went to them before we went to them. Ultimately it’s a matter of who presents himself the best, most wide spread in the religious marketing.

 

Thank you very much! Srila Prabhupada ki, Jai !!

Hare Krishna !!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Chaitanya Charan das

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