Should devotees network with thinkers focusing on Hinduism and Indian nationality?
Transcription:Sudha Mehta Mataji
Question: Should devotees network with thinkers focusing on Hinduism and Indian nationality?
Sometimes devotees read books by other non Iskcon thinkers and present those, some of their teachings some of their points are compatible with our philosophy and some of them are different and sometimes when we hear teachings which are Hindu based or nationalist based then they often invoke more of nationalist feelings than devotional feeling within our heart so should we read such books? And should we try to apply what is being talked about and propagate general nationalistic consciousness or Hindu culture glory instead of Krishna consciousness
Answer: Krishna consciousness is definitive but it is not restrictive. Definitive means it gives us some definite conclusions like Krishna is the supreme personality of Godhead, we are devotees, we are souls and we have to practice purification by which we will experience eternal happiness and return back to Krishna. Now at the same time how this is to be practised that is not restrictive. Somebody can practice pure devotional service that is like at the top of the pyramid. Then there is the pyramid which will be going downwards. There will be some people who will be practicing Varnashrama. And even in Varnashrama there will be people who will practice at different level of strictness. It is not restrictive in the sense that people can harmonize with the principles at whatever level they are comfortable. So we are the followers of the Gaudiya Vaishnava sampradaya as it is presented to us by Srila Prabhupada’s. So Prabhupada’s has given us certain emphasis and that should be our individual as well as institutional emphasis. Prabhupada has focussed more on the preaching on the core of the principles of Krishna consciousness so we focus individually and institutionally on that at the same that doesn’t mean that everybody has to be banned from doing anything. These are nationalism or even Hinduism or networking with the some organizations that is working for national well being or working with organization that is working for the protection of the Hindu culture these are activities which are not incompatible with devotional service they are dovetail able with devotional service. But they in and off themselves are not devotional service. Just like Srila Prabhupada wanted scientific preaching so our primary goal is to share Krishna consciousness but because people have attraction to science then we use science as a medium for sharing Krishna consciousness same way with respect to nationalism or religion. Now Krishna consciousness is not Indian and Krishna consciousness is not Hindu. It is transcendental. But at the same time the Indian culture and the Hindu culture which are in many ways similar, of course there are differences, but these are conducive vehicles for the practice of Krishna consciousness for the propagation of Krishna consciousness. So in general if they are protected or if they are clarified they can be used for sharing Krishna consciousness effectively. We see that Srila Prabhupada spend a large part of his life in India and personally oversaw many of the projects in India. So it’s not at all incompatible with the principles of devotional service to work for a national well being or to network with Hindu organizations but the important thing is it is not that devotees at the top has to climb down from that top to do such network. So our goal has to be very clear to move to the top of the pyramid we want to practice the principles of pure devotional service. Some devotees who are very deeply rooted into the principles of Krishna consciousness for the sake of preaching they may network with these organizations leaders of these organizations and do whatever is required for the broad sharing of Krishna consciousness and similarly there may be some devotees who already have these interests. Like say somebody is already in science and we tell that person “Ok forget all science” now not only that it will be difficult for that person but it will also be a waste of that person’s energy and intelligence and training. So then that person can dovetail his scientific knowledge and scientific research in devotional service. Similarly with respect to those people who have the consciousness, the zeal, the passion for protecting India’s national heritage or the Hindu culture then those people can be encouraged to dovetail that propensity in devotional service. So they should not be restricted they should not be told to repress that. That is the way that they can gradually connect with Krishna. But for those who are practicing the normal process of Krishna consciousness there is no need for them to necessarily go into the fringes as a matter of obligation. There is no obligation in these things. (These are) we don’t take initiation vows in this connection. We don’t read an emphasis on this in our Acharyas or Prabhupada’s books but that doesn’t mean that have to be rejected but some devotees feel that is important to preach they can do that and some devotees or the upcoming devotees who already have that zeal they can also dovetail their zeal in devotional service but even for those who are doing this the main stream detailed knowledge is not required similarly detailed knowledge of networking with Hindu organizations is not required detailed knowledge of protection India’s national heritage and what to do for that? all that is not required. But for those devotees who have the interest or who has taking up that service for them it is ok. Now beyond that even those devotees who are doing like this they have to be careful that they maintain their connection with the core because generally speaking that which is connected with the body is much more easily relatable for us than that which is connected with the soul. Because we are in bodily consciousness so naturally if sentiments have to be awakened sentiments connected with some bodily designations are easier to awaken than sentiments connected with the spiritual reality of we being the servants of Krishna. And if we invoke that feelings too much then that can distract us from the path of devotional service. Like if we see some movies based on nationalism or we get involved in lots of nationalist activities then we may start thinking what is this chanting doing? Hare Krsna Hare Krishna what are we doing I have to do something practical so the more we engage with the material world and the material energy the more our definition of practical becomes changed into something which is material whose effects are materially tangible. However if we look at the purification of heart which is very important rather it is the core of our Krishna conscious practice and its effects are not materially tangible. So the real danger comes when while engaging in activities that are dove tail able we internally start devaluing devotional activities and start raising the value of these kinds of activities so those who are engaging in these sort of activities will also have to have their philosophical fundamental clear and remember that this is something that I can dovetail its dovetail able which can be engaged in devotional service. This shouldn’t become my core it should be in periphery and it is Krishna and core devotional activities that have to be at the core. So if this precaution is taken then certainly this kind of networking can help a lot of devotees who do not otherwise feel so much zeal or passion for the propagation of core Krishna consciousness activities. They may also be inspired to do some sort of service to vigorously practice and share Krishna consciousness at a particular level at which they are comfortable. At which they feel motivated. So we don’t have to as I said the core Krishna consciousness principle are definitive but its implementation does not have to be restrictive but when we understand this pyramid we should be very clear as to what is at the top of the pyramid and what is at the bottom and what will take us upwards and what will take us downwards. So if we are clear about this then using these activities in Krishna consciousness is not incompatible but it is a voluntary choice for those devotees who can maintain the balance can take up other devotees can focus on core devotional activities.