Q: Who are you?
A: We are devotees of Sri Krishna, on the path home back to Godhead. Students of Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, we spread his instructions, imparted through a disciplic succession from the first created being, for the spiritual inner benefit of all mankind and beyond.
Q: Who am I?
A: You are a spirit soul, part and parcel of the Supreme spirit. Somehow or the other, covered by false designations, you have come to live in this material manifestation, which is a covering for the real senses. Real happiness is exprienced in relationship to the Supreme whole, whose complete individual personality is Sri Krishna.
Q: Who is Krishna?
A: Sri Krishna, as is foreseen by the great wise sages and yogis of the past, is the friend, benefactor, and relisher of everything that is. Everything you see all around, is owned and protected by Sri Krishna’s immense potency. He is the source of all living beings, all incarnations, and all matter as a stage for His potency for creating His loving relationships. Everything revolves around Him, therefore, all living beings who are free from the duality of illusion (Maya), engage themselves in His humble loving service.
Q: Is Krishna God?
A: God has many names, and in different places, He is called by different names, according to that place. In Christian states, He is called Christ, in the Muslim provinces, Allah, while in the bible He is referred to as Adonay or Elohim. God is in fact, present in every phenomena we see, as the Supreme Controller, eternal friend of every living entity, and Supreme Enjoyer of all that is. In spiritual cycles, the name Krishna is used, to denote His all-attractive personality, the center of all spiritual life. His devotees worship Him with ever loving service and natural affection, from the core of their hearts. Those that see Him in every living entity, offer respect to every living being.
Q: Why is Krishna considered above everything else?
A: It is a question of the amount of impact one has on his surroundings. Krishna is considered God, because He has in full, the six kinds of opulence, which makes one possess all influence: All power, all fame, all beauty, all knowledge, all wealth and all renunciation. Together, these six items make for a personality above everything and everyone else, for although there are rich persons, learned scholars, powerful rulers and managers, and great ascetics, none has all the six opulences described above, to their fullness. He is, therefore, possessing the status of Supreme Controller and Enjoyer of everything we see around. The greatest authorities in knowledge of the self, such as Vyasadeva, Asita and Kapiladeva, all repeat this one conclusion.
Q: Do I have a connection with Krishna?
A: You certainly do. However, to awaken that relationship, you must learn how to approach Him from the correct authorities. The reason is that Krishna can only be understood & seen with love. He is a person, and is different from what you see all around, which are His energies & potencies alone to be enjoyed. Otherwise, your separate attempt to reach Krishna, will only end up in further material entanglement. The reason our eyes are covered, unable to grasp His all auspicious presence everywhere, by association with other advanced Vaishnavas, you uncover your ability to connect yourself back to His association, which is powerful enough to purify all traces of material obstacles.
Q: Why am I not seeing Him & His influence everywhere?
A: It is said, the soul is eternally connected with Him in a long loving, affectionate relationship. However, being given choice, some small independence, some living entities chose to turn their back on Him, and therefore enjoy life separately. Although nothing is really separate from Him, everything is His property, the living entity, however, may choose to view him/herself separate, therefore forgetful of Him in so many respects…
Q: Why is there birth, death, old age and disease? Can one live without these disturbing phenomena?
A: Birth, death, old age and disease are reminders that we are not this body. We are eternal spirit sparks, parts of the Supreme whole. Our business is none but to serve the benefit of the whole and its enjoyer, Sri Krishna the center. Somehow or other, because of our desire to live and enjoy separately, we forget our original business, which is natural for us, and begin to act under many false designations, such as rich and poor, tall and short, young and old, man and women, American and Indian… all our activities thus, are in fact attempts to enjoy separately, which only cause suffering. It is the final stroke of death, that cuts down everything, reminding us we have a blissful, eternal, original business to take of.
Q: Why should we take care to our eternal occupation, while death is inevitable, and will end all things?
A: There is a tendency to think, after death everything in our life is finished. The truth is, we have an eternal relationship with the Supreme, which continues to manifest. After death, we accept another body, by the agency of material nature, to continue to enable us to try and enjoy separately. If we do not take care to purify our desires in this life, so that we get a chance to serve Krishna with love, we will simply receive another body, whose nature might not be very palatable to us, all without risking gross understatement. Out of 8,400,000 substantially different forms of life, we may not acquire even a human body. That human body, a rare opportunity given to us, has its advanced intelligence as a huge advantage, enabling us to go back to Him, back to Godhead.
Q: Why are you vegetarians? Why not eat the meat of animals?
A: All living beings acquire their bodies by the agency of material nature. There is a tendency to think, that one body is superior to another, because of the way of the modes of nature. Under the guise of material nature, every living entity of every species has a tendency to think himself superior in so-called terms, to persist the struggle of existence under many different varying conditions. Spiritual life means the end of the designations of life, under which one thinks himself superior than others. While in material life, the struggle for existence may continue, in spiritual life, one simply enjoys spiritual bliss and serves under guidance of bona-fide authorities, for the actual perfection of human life experience.
Therefore, eating other animals, especially when maintaining slaughterhouses regularly for the satisfaction of the palate & tongue, is against the very principles of the foundation of spiritual life we have faith in & believe.
Our philosophy is about respect for all living entities, regardless of their bodily condition and makeup, therefore we are kind to animals and all other beings as well. There is no necessity to kill, when one’s needs are supplied by nature’s arrangement.
Q: So, are you vegetarians?
A: We are not vegetarians in the ordinary sense, as many animal species are as well. As our food, we only take remnants of food offered as a sacrifice. What this means can be clarified by the example, that every activity is meant for sacrifice. Work is a sacrifice of time and labor, generally for gaining fruits of enjoyment. Study is a sacrifice of time & attention, to gain knowledge, while friends and lovers sacrifice each others’ time for their loving pastimes and happiness. Parents may sacrifice their own lives for their offspring. Therefore, we understand that when all sacrifices are meant to please Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, there can only be happiness, harmony and peace in society.
Food grains, when taken alone, can be a cause of personal bondage, because of the great amount of labor invested in their preparation and personal consumption. However, those same grains, vegetables and milk, when offered to please Sri Krishna, who asks for no more than a leaf, a flower, or water, as an offering of love from His devotee, express our love and gratitude and ensure that we will remain free from reactions, which result from the mentality of trying to lord over material nature.
If Krishna would have desired meat, fish or eggs to be offered, He would have said so. But in Bhagavad Gita, the authoritative book, which is a conversation spoken 5,000 years ago between Krishna and His devotee Arjuna, Krishna does not ask for more than simple preparations of flowers, vegetables, grains, water and/or milk products. As we express our gratitude we do not offer things which are not desirable, including items that are difficult to obtain and incur severe reactions according to nature’s law.
Q: What are the three modes of material nature?
A: The spiritual world is full of bliss, knowledge and eternal existence (Sac-cid-ananda). We, as spirit soul particles, came from the spiritual world. However, as we have descended to the material world, we have been given material bodies, so that we can try and lord over material nature, feeling ourselves separate from God. Everything in material nature, is a reflection of the original spiritual nature, but because of its limited and temporary quality, which cannot quench our thirst for a higher satisfaction, it works in three ways or modes.
Sattva-guna, or the mode of goodness, said to be the purest of the three modes, is illuminating, and whatever is operating or belongs to that mode, results in knowledge and frees us from further reactions. However, because its material quality, when it appears in material nature, it touches the other modes, and their by-products in the lower modes of rajas and tamas (rajo-guna and tamo-guna, the modes of passion and ignorance).
By the spell of passion one thinks himself the lord of material nature, and has ever-growing demands for satisfying his senses, by coming in contact with the sense objects. The attraction between male and female as seen in this material world is an example, from which the mode expands. The more one grows thirsty for various sense objects and enjoyable paraphernalia, the more one becomes dissatisfied, eventually tasting great bitterness for what was initially appearing pleasant.
When that notion grows further, by being pleased with things that are of temporary, fleeting nature and quality, another mode rises, which is the mode of ignorance, by which everything is clouded and real knowledge is obfuscated. This mode lacks tangible taste and touch and by it, everything remains dark and/or lacking spiritual happiness and bliss.
Q: How is the end of the cycle of birth and death be possible:
A: In material life, a person experiences a chain of actions and reactions. Thinking himself the enjoyer of material nature, the result of dreaming of a life separate from Krishna, one acquires an ephemeral body to tries and lord over material nature. Although one thinks himself enjoying, he is very much constantly harassed, by many different kinds of miseries. These miseries are told to be three in number, those that pertain to body and soul, those that are inflicted by contact with other living beings, and those that come from superior natural forces, such as disasters.
One cannot avoid these miseries, therefore one is advised to take complete shelter of Krishna without delay. When one is free thus from the miseries, dedicated completely in loving service to Sri Krishna, having full shelter and confidence, one is able to be freed from the cycle of birth and death by superior arrangement. Such an arrangement is told to be arranged behind the devotee’s back, for a sincere person fully engaged in devotional service to Krishna.
Q: When will the three miseries end?
A: The three miseries are a feature of material nature, and will never end by themselves. Rather, it is the difference in attitude that determines a Krishna conscious person, from a nondevotee who simply waits for the next reaction to unfold. A Krishna conscious person serves and acts fully, continuing to do so under all circumstance. Remembering Krishna, the Lord, always, he continues to serve and please Sri Krishna even under the gravest of circumstance. He is therefore, in constant ecstasy, relished by those who are self-realized, after having heard the sublime message, from the greatest of authorities. Others, encountering those miseries, and lacking any actual cure, for any material attempt merely produces another reaction that ends ultimately with death, may simply act to further their entanglement and bondage in material nature.
Q: Is there an external difference in the lives of Krishna devotees and nondevotees?
A: There is a great difference in the lives of devotees and nondevotees, as it is said, for spiritual inner well-being, external wellness automatically follows. This does not mean, the devotees do not approach real life’s tests, as much as ordinary people cannot avoid taking… It only means, that the less we struggle with material nature, following instead the orders of the Lord for our natural occupation, our natural sense engagement will not create the same agitating circumstance, at the times we are forced to enjoy and to suffer. Our lives, therefore, are more relishable, consisting of a happy engagement to the senses, rather than disturbing consequences of trying to lord over matter.
It is no wonder, devotees are attracted to each others’ association in Krishna Consciousness, rather the temporary glares of the material world, which never satisfy the mind as much as topics of spiritual life do and touch. Any external stability is a result of the devotee’s inner well-being, obtained by following the path of self-realized souls who can impart the truth, to those who are willing to follow in their steps.
Q: Aren’t people nowadays trying to lord it over material nature?
A: Since the decline of spiritual knowledge, which began following Sri Krishna was personally present on the earth, 5000 years ago, people have gradually stopped and forsaken their following of natural religion (dharma), pertaining to their inner duty to keep the natural order of all things. Spiritual knowledge about the self, has thus become more and more rare. One direct consequence, is that the planning commisions of high government officials cannot help the general population, for without knowledge of the self, one simply becomes more and more entangled in matter and its constituent reactions. One, is therefore, advised to remained humble, silent and enthusiastic, engaging his life, mind and senses in service of the devotees, spreading the message of true knowledge about the self.
As spiritual literature may tell often, many distortions abound nowadays, the age of Kali-yuga, characterized by a decline in religious practice (dharma), pertaining not only to the senses, but to real knowledge. With all distractions around, abounding together to form great illusions, especially nowadays, one should remain aloof from ephemeral engagements, which serve no lasting value. Steadily and faithfully, if one abides by the order of the spiritual master, who leads the example of perfect spiritual life, by following the authority, one attains the actual complete perfection in due course of time. That has been proven time and again in the past, and showing every sign that it is taking place nowadays all the same, when one is coming to the spiritual platform, free from of all material designations and attempts to lord personally over material nature’s facilities.
Q: We are not lords of material nature. What is our natural duty, or our occupation?
A: We have been conditioned since time immemorial, trying to become lords of material nature. As parts and parcels of the Supreme whole, each soul is either eternally bound, or conditioned, or eternally liberated. Though each one of us is originally pure, due to contact with material nature, some souls have fallen to the influence of maya, or that which is not (an illusion, or trick). Those souls who have forgotten their eternal relationship with God have fallen to material nature, and became bound by its control.
Material nature has very stringent laws, however, eternally being loving servants of the Lord, we are not in fact meant to come under the control of material nature. It is the desire to enjoy separately that undermines our natural freedom from material qualities and designations.