When we become devotees should we not read newspaper or magazines and read only spiritual books? So how will we improve our general knowledge?

by Chaitanya Charan dasJune 16, 2013

Answer Podcast

Transcription: Sudha Mehta Mataji

Question: When we become devotees should we not read newspaper or magazines and should we read only spiritual books? And how will we improve our general knowledge?

Answer: It’s not that we shouldn’t read news papers or Magazines. It is that we should be able to harmonise our lives with our values. If we understand that the ultimate goal of life is spiritual, it is to purify our heart, develop our love for Krishna and to return back to him and while we are living here to contribute best to the world by elevating others spiritually, then if this serves our values this is what the Bhagwad Gita teaches us ultimately and if this is our value then our remaining life will get oriented and harmonized according to that value.  So when we understand that we have a long long distance to go in our purification and we need to spend as much time and energy as possible in purifying our hearts so that we can attain life’s ultimate destination of love of God before we live this world then naturally we do not want to spend time on anything that distracts us from the life’s primary propose of purification what then to speak of doing some things that not only distracts us but also contaminates us. So news papers and magazines to the extent they contribute to our values or to our pursuit of our values they can be read. So if we are living in the society we should have some basic information about what is happening in the society and that can be got just by scrolling head lines of news papers or just by getting a daily feed from newspapers in ones inbox in the email by which one knows just what is happening. And if specific events interest us or are relevant to us because of our career area or our residential area something has happened there then we can read that further. Actually speaking it is not that devotee should be out of tune with reality but we also have to understand that just the material reality is not the only reality. We should not be so much in tune with material reality that we forget the spiritual reality. Because material reality ultimately is not only temporary it is also very illusory in terms of it being very fleeting, titillating and entangling. What seems news today becomes old tomorrow! And something else happens. There was a social thinker who said “What is all this news basically?” “It is just old things happening to new people”. Old things happening to new people that means that ok There was an accident here and some people died and after few days there was some another accident and some another people died and there was this election and this person became President and then there was that election and that person became President There was this match and this team won and later on some other team won. So if we really look from objective and detached perspective then most of the news is not really news worthy in terms of its relevance to our lives. So often how much do we learn from the news papers that is of any lasting value to us that is illuminating that is uplifting? Actually it’s very little. So this is Kaliyuga and most of what that happens in Kaliyuga is distressing. When I write articles for “Times of India” sometimes, So Times of India has a column for “Speaking Tree” So when a correspondent when the editor of the speaking tree so actually I asked them “How they started a spiritual column in the news paper”. Now many news papers have spiritual columns but in the past not many of them had a spiritual column. Times of India was actually one of the first

Actually the News paper basically contains news of three things death destruction and deceit. In this accident this died, so much destruction happened because of this or there was this scam and all these people were and so much money was swindled So death destruction and deceit and in general what comes in the news tends to agitate the mind so they said “we also know this” and we wanted some corner in the news paper which will not agitate the mind but which will pacify and illuminate the mind and that’s why we started a spiritual column. This is what actually the nature of the world is atleast in Kaliyuga to a large extent and we have enough agitation in the mind. We don’t have to know every gory detail of, what is happening where? So we need to find an intelligent balance between being utterly ignorant of the world around us and so tuned in that we do not know anything any values beyond the world. Or we go out of tune about the higher purpose of life that takes us beyond this world. So In general few minutes of scanning through the headline is perfectly ok. At the same time reading all the pages of a news paper or many pages of a news paper we will not be utilizing our time in a productive way by that. Now if our job or our profession requires us to be in tune with certain fields and for that we need to read certain magazines then it is part of our profession that we can certainly do. And beyond that as devotees we want to focus on our spiritual values and our purification of heart that’s why we read spiritual books. So the Srimad Bhagawatam says in the second Canto Chapter 1 Text 2

śrotavyādīni rājendra

nṛṇāḿ santi sahasraśaḥ

apaśyatām ātmatattvaḿ

gṛheṣu gṛhamedhinām

So at the material level of consciousness śrotavyādīni rājendrasanti sahasraśaḥ that for hearing people think as worthy santi sahasra śaḥ thousands of topics are there  but among all those topics actually apasyatam atma tattvam griheshu grihamedi-nam.  They keep us from seeing the spiritual reality they keep us blind to the spiritual realities of life griheshu grihamedi-nam      they keep us caught in materialistic ways of thinking and living and then they cheat us of what is the ultimate gift of life i.e The entrance into the eternal world of Krishna and living here in a way that contributes effectively to making the world a better place by purifying ourselves and helping others to purify themselves. So certainly devotees can be aware of the basic news just

by reading some headlines and if any special field is there which we need to be aware of for our job interviews or for our profession then definitely we can read that also but beyond that we have finite time and huge amount of work to do for purifying ourselves and for sharing the methods of purification with others. Therefore we should focus on that as our primary priority in life. Thank you.

About The Author
Chaitanya Charan das

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