I was born in another Vaishnava tradition, but I find Krishna consciousness more logical; if I take to Krishna consciousness ,am I being unfaithful to my birth tradition?

by Chaitanya CharanJanuary 23, 2024


Question – I was born in another Vaishnava tradition, but I find Krishna consciousness more logical; if I take to Krishna consciousness ,am I being unfaithful to my birth tradition?

Answer – I wouldn’t use the word unfaithful because ultimately it is one God who is manifesting his outreach, his mercy through various paths.
We can consider the example of a mountain and different paths leading to the top of the mountain. The top of the mountain is Krishna or spiritual consciousness and the bottom of the mountain is where we are, material consciousness. We are all meant to rise upward from where we are. Srila Prabhupada said Jesus Christ is like our Guru because he had so much love of God that he was ready to sacrifice his life to become a martyr for the sake of God. Now that does not mean we accept everything that Christianity says but the principle of love of God is something which is universal and is there in various traditions. God is not the monopoly of any religion just like there is no single path which leads to the top of a mountain. Having said that, each path of the mountain can have its positives and negatives.

Some path may be very slippery, some path may be very rocky, some path may be through a thick forest. From each path, at the bottom, we get some glimpse of what is at the top and the most important thing is that the glimpse should be attractive enough for us, to want to rise, upward. There are two essential things, sadhan – the path and sadhya – the object or what are we going to attain by following the path? In other words, the path and the purpose.

When we say Pushti marg, it is a venerated Vishnu tradition and there have been many great saints in that tradition and the tradition of Krishna Bhakti has been preserved in thousands and thousands and millions of families by the pushti marg tradition across India and across the world and the families or the descendants practising this marg have migrated everywhere. We fully respect that tradition and this respect should be rightfully offered.

At the same time, in different traditions, the emphasis is different. Generally in most of India, often there is a greater emphasis on the ritualistic aspect of bhakti or religion rather than the philosophical aspect and the ritualistic aspect is what often appeals to older generations – the parents and the grandparents. They feel at home, thinking that this is what our predecessors did. They feel connected with their past and they get a sense of security and continuity. Of course, they are also connecting with Krishna through this to the degree they are investing their heart in the rituals. But the point is, this ritualistic aspect of bhakti is not very appealing to the younger generation and that is why when Srila Prabhupada started the Krishna Consciousness Movement, he said the temples should first and foremost be places of higher education.

Temples are places of worship and they are also meant to be places of education and that is why there are daily Bhagavatam classes, there are regular evening programs explaining the philosophical aspects of bhakti. If we see in most of the Indian temples, not specifically Pushti Marga, the people are mostly priests and not teachers. They can do the rituals quite well, they can even chant the mantras very nicely but if someone asks them questions, they do not have answers. That is not a deficiency on their part, it is just the way they were trained. So, there are some traditions which are emphasising the educational aspect and some emphasising the ritualistic aspect. Rather than seeing that you are leaving one path and taking to another path and being unfaithful, you can see that the same Lord who arranged for you to belong to the pushti marga family by which you would have some devotional upbringing, some pious culture, that same Lord has brought you to a place where you can take it further in a way that works for you. Everyone is an individual and it is for us to offer our head and heart to Krishna in a mood of service and for us to do that, we have to do things in a way that is true for us.

Just focus on seeing that here is where you got the opportunity to practice Krishna consciousness, have the opportunity to ask questions and get answers to those questions and take up the practices. You can continue worshipping Laddu Gopal but you can decide based on your intelligence and your particular situation, how elaborate the rituals you want to practice. That is something which is definitely up to the individual and it is there in every tradition, even in Madhava tradition in South India, where they often emphasize shaligram shila worship.

But how much worship should be done? That they often leave to the individuals. Sometimes certain traditions may say this is how much you need to do but individual practitioners have to find out how much they can do. So try to see for yourself how you can best connect with Krishna and see this not so much as you abandoning one path and taking another path, rather see it as you reciprocating with Krishna, who is providing you facilities to come closer to him, whether it is through this path or that path.

The point is that you have an opportunity to move closer to Krishna.

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Chaitanya Charan

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