Quite often I get asked this question, "What is the difference between Krishna consciousness and Hinduism?" They look the same to many, but are different.
On the other hand, some Hindus become offended when we make such distinctions. I in no way wish to offend any Hindu. I feel in most cases, it is simply that they do not know what it is we are pointing out and therefore, tend to misunderstand.
Thus, I created this web page in hopes to please everyone. To answer the questions of those who want to know the difference, and to help Hindu's see we are not against them, but to explain what it is we mean.
I felt the best way to do that would be to start out with quotes from my beloved spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada. Below that are quotes on the Holy Name, and below even that are FAQ or Frequently Asked Questions.
Journalist: Is Krsna consciousness connected with any other religion? Does it derive from Hinduism or Buddhism?
Prabhupada: Yes, you can call it Hinduism, but actually it does not belong to any "ism." It is a science of understanding God. But it appears like Hindu religion. In that sense Buddha religion is also Hindu religion, because Lord Buddha was a Hindu and he started Buddha religion."
Srila Prabhupada Room Conversation w/ Journalist, May 19, 75, Melbourne
"One should know his identification. At the present moment, identification is going on by the skin. "I am Indian," "I am American." This is going on. But that is not our proper identification. The proper identification is aham brahmasmi: "I am spirit soul." This is to be understood in human form of life." ~ Srila Prabhupada lecture, Srimad Bhagavatam 1.2.6, May 24, 74, Rome Italy
Prabhupada: Yes, this Krsna consciousness movement is not a sentimental religious system. It is science and philosophy. The attempt is to awaken God consciousness. God is neither Christian nor Hindu nor Muslim. God is God. There may be angles of vision to approach God, but God is one. Therefore our attempt is that you become God conscious. Don't be limited by Christianism or Hinduism or Muhammadanism. So our formula is explained in the Srimad Bhagavatam. We have got the copies there. Sa vai pumsam paro dharmo yato bhaktir adhoksaje: "That is first-class religious system by which the followers become a lover of God." This is the, our formula."
~ Srila Prabhupada speaks to La Trobe University, Melbourne , July 1, 74
Prabhupada: No. Hinduism practically we do not recognize because this word "Hinduism" is not mentioned in any Vedic literature. It is a foreign term. The Muhammadans, they called the inhabitants of India as "Hindus." From that word, it is has come to "Hinduism." Otherwise, we don't find that word in any Vedic literature. "Hinduism" is a foreign term, it is not a Vedic term.
Reporter: Yes. The Krsna consciousness, its Vedic literature, they have some of the same books or also holy books for what we call Hindu religions, aren't they?
Prabhupada: Yes. Just try to understand, the inhabitants of India were called by the Muhammadans from Persia and other places, "Hindus." "Hindus" means the resident on the other side of the River Indus. You have heard the name of River Indus. So they cannot pronounce it Indus, they say "Hindus." From "Hindus," it has become "Hindu." So actually the residents of India were called "Hindus." And generally, at least in, say, three thousand years ago, all the inhabitants of India were strictly followers of Vedic principles. After the advent of Lord Buddha, a different religious system developed. Otherwise, before Lord Buddha, there was all the... Not only in India, in other parts of the world. They were followers of Vedic principles. So in that sense, you can say if followers of Vedic principles are called Hindus, then before Lord Buddha, everyone was Hindu all over the world. Not that particular part of India. So far we have got historical reference from Mahabharata, Indo-European stock, they are also Hindus, the so-called Hindus, followers of Vedic principles. Yes. Gradually, they deviated. Just like recently there is division of Pakistan and India. Twenty years before, this Pakistan was part of India. Now, these Muhammadans, they did not come from outside. They changed their faith from Hindus to Muhammadans. Now they divided their property. Similarly, actually the whole planet was called Bharata-varsa. Gradually, people deviated from Vedic principles or imitated something else and they became different."
Srila Prabhupada Interview w/ LA Times Reporter, Dec 26, 68, Los Angeles California
Pusta Krsna: There is one more question, Srila Prabhupada. Question 21. "Are changes visible in Hinduism in its doctrinal content, mode of individual and collective worship as a result of Hinduism's contact with the West?"
Prabhupada: Yes, they are worshiping... This is... First of all, you must forget that this Krsna consciousness movement is not Hinduism. It is Vaisnavism. Vaisnava means Visnu is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and one who loves Visnu or loves God, he is Vaisnava. So Hinduism is not like that. Present conception of Hinduism, they have got so many demigods. Demigods are there in the Vedas, but demigod worshipers, they are all materialistic persons. It is stated in the Bhagavad-gita that kamais tais tair hrta-jnanah yajanti anya-devatah. Those who are worshiper of demigods, they are lusty. Kamuka. And the kamuka platform is material world, lusty. Everyone is trying to enjoy sense gratification. So demigod worship is for sense gratification. If you worship Durga, then you pray, "Mother Durga, give me name, fame, wealth, good wife, and so on, so on." Dhanam dehi rupam dehi rupavati-bharyam dehi. Simply demanding for sense gratification. So that is not love of Godhead. That is to select one agent of God and exact from him as much as you can for your sense gratification. That is not recommended in the Vedic religion. Vedic religion, although there are demigods, but the ultimate is om tad visnoh paramam padam sada pasyanti surayah. Those who are suraya, actually advanced, they see to the Visnu paramam padam. Visnor aradhanam param. The worship of Visnu is the supreme worship. So actually everyone should be worshiper of Visnu. And that is Vaisnavism. So Vaisnavism means for everyone or sanatana dharma. That I have already explained.The human.... The living entity is sanatana. Mamaivamso jiva-bhutah jiva-loke sanatana. He is sanatana. God is sanatana. The exchange between God and the living entity is called sanatana-dharma or Vaisnavism. So we are teaching that. We are not teaching Hinduism, Muslimism, Christianism. We are teaching how to love God. That's all. There is no question of proselytization. It is the natural. We are, by nature we are lover of God. Just like father and son. The love is already there. It cannot be extinguished. The father and son may be separated for many, many years, but when they come together the affection immediately revives. So we are teaching that, that we have got eternal relationship with God and revive it. We are embarassed by establishing artificial relationship with my family, country, and society, and so-called religions. These are all artificial. Real relationship, that "God is great and I am His servant," that is real religion. So we are teaching that thing."
Srila Prabhupada Answer to Questions from Bhavan's Journal, June 28, 76, Vrndavana India
"Hinduism means a type of faith, or Muslimism is type of faith. But... As it is described in the English dictionary, religion means a kind of faith. But it is not that type of religion. It is a compulsory fact. Just like sugar is, compulsorily must become, sweet. If sugar is not sweet, that is not real sugar. Chili is not hot; that is not real chili. Similarly, we are part and parcel of Krsna. Our duty is to become Krsna conscious. There is no question of faith. It is not the question of faith. You may have faith in Hinduism; tomorrow you may have faith in Christianism. Or you may have faith in Christianism, tomorrow in Mohammedan. This kind of faith is not Krsna consciousness. It is a compulsory. Compul... Just like laws of the state. It is not that it is meant for the Hindus, or for the Muslims, for the Christian. It is meant for everyone.
Similarly, mamaivamso jiva-bhutah. We are part and parcel of Krsna, so it is compulsory to revive our consciousness that we are part and parcel of Krsna. It is not a question of faith. Faith you may accept or do not accept but here it is a question of "must." You must revive your Krsna consciousness; otherwise you will suffer."
SP Lecture, Madras, BG 3.27, Jan 1, 1976
"So Krsna said that dharma-samsthapanarthaya sambhavami yuge yuge. Then what is that dharma? He did not come here to reestablish Hinduism or Muslimism or Christianism. No. He came to give you real dharma. What is that? Sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja. That is dharma, to surrender unto Krsna: "Krsna, I am eternally Your servant. I forgot You. Now I come to my senses. I surrender unto You." This is dharma. Bahunam janmanam ante jnanavan mam prapadyate. This sense, real sense, comes when after struggling, struggling for many, many births, one becomes wise. Bahunam janmanam ante jnanavan. Jnanavan means wise."
"Srila Prabhupada lecture, Bhagavad Gita 13.13, Bombay India, Oct 6, 73
"Bhagavata-dharma does not restrict pure devotees to the Hindu community. A pure devotee is above a brahmana; therefore it is not incompatible to offer the sacred thread to devotees in Europe, America, Australia, Japan, Canada, and so on. Sometimes these pure devotees, who have been accepted by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, are not allowed to enter certain temples in India. Some high-caste brahmanas and gosvamis refuse to take prasada in the temples of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. Actually this is against the instruction of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Devotees can come from any country, and they can belong to any creed or race. On the strength of this verse, those who are actually devotees and followers of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu must accept devotees from all parts of the world as pure Vaisnavas. They should be accepted not artificially but factually. One should see how they are advanced in Krsna consciousness and how they are conducting Deity worship, sankirtana and Ratha-yatra. Considering all these points, an envious person should refrain from malicious atrocities."
SP, Caitanya Caritamrta, MadyaLila 25.120 P
"So here Krsna came to establish this fact, that "You are neither Roman, nor Indian nor brahmana nor sudra. You are My eternal servant. Therefore give up all this nonsense identification." Sarva-dharman parityajya. Because due to your wrong identification, you have created so-called "isms:" Hinduism, Muhammadanism, nationalism, this "ism," that "ism." This is all nonsense. This is the understanding of religion. Whatever we have created with the bodily concept of life, they are all nonsense. The real religion is that "I am eternal servant of Krsna." That is real religion."
Srila Prabhupada lecture, Srimad Bhagavatam 1.2.6, May 24, 74, Rome Italy
"If one advocates the Hindu religion, the Muslim religion, the Christian religion, this religion or that religion, there will be conflicts. History shows that followers of religious systems without a clear conception of God have fought with one another. There are many instances of this in human history, but systems of religion that do not concentrate upon service to the Supreme are temporary and cannot last for long because they are full of envy. " SB 6. 16. 41
"Therefore Sanatana dharma does not refer to any sectarian process or religion. It is the eternal function of the eternal living entities in relationship with the Supreme Lord. Sanatana dharma refers, as stated previously, to the eternal occupation of the living entity. Sripada Ramanujacarya has explained the word sanatana as "that which has neither beginning nor end' so when we speak of sanatana dharma we must take it for granted, on the authority of Sripada Ramanujacarya that it has neither beginning nor end."
Bhagavat Gita As It Is, Intro
"It should be noted that Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu never acknowledged the stereotyped caste system by birthright; rather, He strictly followed the verdict of the sastras in the matter of one's svarupa, or real identity." ~ S.B. 1.2.13 Purport
"People are after dharma, artha, kama and moksa. Generally they perform religious activities to achieve some material gain, and they engage in material activities for sense gratification. After being frustrated in material sense gratification, one wants to become liberated and become one with the Absolute Truth. These four principles form the transcendental path for the less intelligent. Those who are actually intelligent engage in Krishna Consciousness, not caring for these four principles of the transcendental method. They at once elevate themselves to the transcendental platform which is above liberation. Liberation is not a very great achievement, to say nothing of the ritualistic performances in religion, economic development or the materialistic life of sense gratification. Devotees do not care for these. They are always situated on the transcendental platform of the brahma-buta stage of self-realization." SB 3.2.36
"And what is dharma? What is religion? Perhaps you'll remember that the translation in the English language, dharma is a description of certain kind of faith, but according to Vedic literature, dharma is not a kind of faith. Faith can be changed but dharma cannot be changed. This point we have already explained." SP BG Lecture 1966
"Instead of accepting a temporary occupational duty based on the material body, one should take to the process of Sanatana-dharma, or bhakti yoga, so that he can put an end to this perpetual bondage in material bodies and return home, back to Godhead." SB 4. 28. 61
"In Bhagavad-gita Krsna informs us of the original dharma and asks us to give up all kinds of religious principles. The real dharma is surrender unto Him." SB 4.24. 42
"Bhakti, devotional service, is paro dharma, transcendental dharma, it is not material dharma." SB 6. 2. 26
"The point is that every human being is expected to elevate himself to the position of brahmana, the most intelligent man, and than one must transcend that position and become a Vaishnava." CC Madya-lila 8.6
"The bhagavat religion teaches that the Lord and the living entity are eternally related and that the duty of the living entity is to surrender to the Lord." SB 6. 2. 26
"The highest qualification of a person in the material world is to be brahmana. But since a brahmana is in the mode of goodness, to be a brahmana is not sufficient for becoming a representative of the Lord. One has to transcend the mode of goodness also and be situated in unalloyed goodness, unaffected by any of the qualities of material nature."SB 3.4.31
"Brahmana qualities mean brahma jayanti iti brahmana. That is nirakara, of course, but you have to transcend the position of brahmana. and become Vaishnava." SP lecture, 1973
"But if you be engaged in devotional service, then immediately you transcend all the qualities. You become more than brahmana -- Vaishnava. Vaishnava means he is transcendental to the brahminical qualities also." SP lecture, 1973
"Vaisnava is above brahmana." SB lecture, 1975
sa vai pumsam paro dharmo yato bhaktir adhoksaje "The supreme religion is that which teaches it's followers how to love the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is beyond the reach of experimental knowledge. Such a religious system begins with tam-nama-grahana chanting of the holy names of the Lord." Srimad Bhagavatam 6. 3 22
Srimad Bhagavatam ~ 1.18.18
aho vayam janma-bhrto 'dya hasma
dauskulyam adhim vidhunoti sighram
sutah uvaca--Suta Gosvami said; aho--how; vayam--we; janma-bhrtah--promoted in birth; adya--today; ha--clearly; asma--have become; vrddha-anuvrttya--by serving those who are advanced in knowledge; api--although; viloma-jatah--born in a mixed caste; dauskulyam--disqualification of birth; adhim--sufferings; vidhunoti--purifies; sighram--very soon; mahat-tamanam--of those who are great; abhidhana --conversation; yogah--connection.
TRANSLATION: Sri Suta Gosvami said: O God, although we are born in a mixed caste, we are still promoted in birthright simply by serving and following the great who are advanced in knowledge. Even by conversing with such great souls, one can without delay cleanse oneself of all disqualifications resulting from lower births.
PURPORT: Suta Gosvami did not take his birth in a brahmana family. He was born in a family of mixed caste, or an uncultured low family. But because of higher association, like Sri Sukadeva Gosvami and the great rsis of Naimisaranya, certainly the disqualification of inferior birth was washed off. Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu followed this principle in pursuance of the Vedic usages, and by His transcendental association He elevated many lowborn, or those disqualified by birth or action, to the status of devotional service and established them in the position of acaryas, or authorities. He clearly stated that any man, whatever he may be, whether a brahmana or sudra by birth, or a householder or mendicant in the order of society, if he is conversant with the science of Krsna, he can be accepted as an acarya or guru, a spiritual master.
Suta Gosvami learned the science of Krsna from great rsis and authorities like Sukadeva and Vyasadeva and he was so qualified that even the sages of Naimisaranya eagerly wanted to hear from him the science of Krsna in the form of Srimad-Bhagavatam. So he had the double association of great souls by hearing and preaching. Transcendental science, or the science of Krsna, has to be learned from the authorities, and when one preaches the science, he becomes still more qualified. So Suta Gosvami had both the advantages, and thus undoubtedly he was completely freed from all disqualifications of low birth and mental agonies. This verse definitely proves that Srila Sukadeva Gosvami did not refuse to teach Suta Gosvami about the transcendental science nor did the sages of Naimisaranya refuse to hear lessons from him because of his inferior birth. This means that thousands of years ago there was no bar to learning or preaching the transcendental science because of inferior birth. The rigidity of the so-called caste system in Hindu society became prominent within only one hundred years or so when the number of dvija-bandhus, or disqualified men in the families of higher castes, increased. Lord Sri Caitanya revived the original Vedic system, and He elevated Thakura Haridasa to the position of namacarya, or the authority in preaching the glories of the holy name of the Lord, although His Holiness Srila Haridasa Thakura was pleased to appear in a family of Mohammedans.
Such is the power of pure devotees of the Lord. The Ganges water is accepted as pure, and one can become purified after taking a bath in the waters of the Ganges. But as far as the great devotees of the Lord are concerned, they can purify a degraded soul even by being seen by the lowborn, and what to speak of association. Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu wanted to purify the whole atmosphere of the polluted world by sending qualified preachers all over the world, and it remains with the Indians to take up this task scientifically and thus do the best kind of humanitarian work. The mental diseases of the present generation are more acute than bodily diseases; it is quite fit and proper to take up the preaching of Srimad-Bhagavatam all over the world without delay. Mahattamanam abhidhana also means dictionary of great devotees, or a book full of the words of great devotees. Such a dictionary of the words of great devotees and those of the Lord are in the Vedas and allied literatures, specifically the Srimad-Bhagavatam." Srimad Bhagavatam, 1.18.18
"The sastras says... Krsna says Himself, mam hi partha vyapasritya ye 'pi syuh papa-yonayah: "Anyone born in low-grade family.' Papa-yoni, mam hi partha vyapasritya, "if he takes to Me according to regulative principles," vyapasritya, "according to the principle," te 'pi yanti param gatim, "he is immediately becomes eligible to be promoted," param gatim, "the highest perfection of life." One thing is papa-yoni. So there is no restriction that papa-yoni shall remain always papa-yoni. Why? They should be given enlightenment. That is brahmana-ism. Brahmana means liberal, and just the opposite word of brahmana is krpana, miser. A brahmana should give chance to everyone, even to the papa-yoni, how to become brahmana. That is real brahmana. And the rascal who thinks that "I shall remain simply brahmana; others shall remain mlecchas and yavanas," he is not brahmana; he is sudra, because his mind is so crippled. He does not want to see others to become brahmana. He is miser, krpana. Krpanah phala-hetavah." Srila Prabhupada lecture, Srimad Bhagavatam 1.9.49, Mayapura India, June 15, 73
"The unwanted creepers have been described by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura. He states that if one hears and chants without trying to give up offenses, one becomes materially attached to sense gratification. One may also desire freedom from material bondage like the Mayavadis, or one may become attached to the yoga-siddhis and desire wonderful yogic powers. If one is attached to wonderful material activities, one is called siddhi-lobhi, greedy for material perfection. One may also be victimized by diplomatic or crooked behavior, or one may associate with women for illicit sex. Others may make a show of devotional service like the prakrta-sahajiyas, or one may try to support his philosophy by joining some caste or identifying himself with a certain dynasty, claiming a monopoly on spiritual advancement. Thus with the support of family tradition, one may become a pseudo guru or so-called spiritual master. One may become attached to the four sinful activities--illicit sex, intoxication, gambling and meat eating, or one may consider a Vaisnava to belong to a mundane caste or creed. One may think, "This is a Hindu Vaisnava, and this is a European Vaisnava. A European Vaisnava is not allowed to enter the temples." In other words, one may consider Vaisnavas in terms of birth, thinking one a brahmana Vaisnava, a sudra Vaisnava, a mleccha Vaisnava and so on. One may also try to carry out a professional business while chanting the Hare Krsna mantra or reading Srimad-Bhagavatam, or one may try to increase his monetary strength by illegal means. One may also try to be a cheap Vaisnava by chanting in a secluded place for material adoration, or one may desire mundane reputation by making compromises with nondevotees, compromising one's philosophy or spiritual life, or one may become a supporter of a hereditary caste system. All these are pitfalls of personal sense gratification. Just to cheat some innocent people, one makes a show of advanced spiritual life and becomes known as a sadhu, mahatma or religious person. All this means that the so-called devotee has become victimized by all these unwanted creepers and that the real creeper of bhakti-lata-bija has been stunted."
CC, MadhyLila 19.160 P
"Yet man professes to belong to a particular type of faith with reference to particular time and circumstance and thus claims to be a Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist or any other sect. Such designations are non-sanatana-dharma. A Hindu may change his faith to become a Muslim, or a Muslim may change his faith to become a Hindu, or a Christian may change his faith and so on. But in all circumstances the change of religious faith does not affect the eternal occupation of rendering service to others. The Hindu, Muslim or Christian in all circumstances is servant of someone. Thus, to profess a particular type of sect is not to profess one's sanatana-dharma. The rendering of service is sanatana-dharma.
Factually we are related to the Supreme Lord in service. The Supreme Lord is the supreme enjoyer, and we living entities are His servitors. We are created for His enjoyment, and if we participate in that eternal enjoyment with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, we become happy. We cannot become happy otherwise. It is not possible to be happy independently, just as no one part of the body can be happy without cooperating with the stomach. It is not possible for the living entity to be happy without rendering transcendental loving service unto the Supreme Lord." Introduction to Bhagavad-gita
"The religion which you can change, that is not religion. Suppose I am Hindu; I become Christian. So neither this Hinduism is religion or Christian is religion. It is a dictionary, English dictionary, word. But dharma, according to Sanskrit word, dharma does not mean that which you can change. I have several times explained this fact. Dharma cannot be changed. Therefore we must find out what is our dharma, what is our religion. Which we are professing, that "Christianity is my religion," "Hinduism, my religion," that is not religion. That is faith. Religion is different. Religion you cannot change. You cannot change. That is the meaning of religion. Here it is said that ya evam visrjed dharmam. Dharmam means you cannot change. So param paryagatam narah, kamat, kamat lobhat. Now, religion sometimes, when it is taken as faith, they have changed. How they have changed? Kamat. For some gain. Just like in India formerly Christian religion was preached, giving some facilities. And generally we see that Christian priests who go to foreign countries... I have seen. They offer some hospital facilities, some economic facilities. The poor men, they supply clothing and education. So those who are poor, they become captivated, and they... They have practically no religion. Anyway, they are facing the economic problems. So kamat. Kamat means for some gain. For some gain, kamat, and lobhat... Lobhat means by some greediness. And bhayat. Bhayat means out of fear. And dvesat. Dvesat means out of enviousness. For all these things one should not give up his faith or religion." SP lecture, NY, Goverdhana Puja, Nov 4, 66
lokanam hita-karinau tri-bhuvane manyau saranyakarau
vande rupa-sanatana raghu-yugau sri-jiva-gopalakau
"Here is, sitting, Sri Gosvamiji. He's coming from Gopala Bhatta Gosvami. So all these six Gosvamis, they were not inactive. They were always active. As we are active in the karma, karmi life, so bhakti life is also activity. It is not sitting down idly or gossiping. One must find out some job to serve Krsna. That is bhakti life. Hrsikena hrsikesa-sevanam. Sevanam means activity. Sevanam does not mean sit down idle, inert. No. As soon as seva... Seva means activity. One has to preach, one has to write, one has to do this, do that, cook, offer the prasadam, everything. Seva, activity.
So that activity and karmis' activity, there is difference. The karmi's activity is on upadhi. "I am American," "I am Indian," "I am Hindu," "I am Muslim," "I am Christian." With this upadhi, we are acting. But bhakti means without upadhi. Sarvopadhi-virnirmuktam. Activity without upadhi. Working not as American. Working not as Indian. Working not as Hindu. Working not as Muslim. That is sarvopadhi-vinirmuktam tat-paratvena nirmalam. If we think that "I am Christian," "I am Hindu," "I am American," that is with upadhi. When we purely think that "We are...," or "I am servant of Krsna. My only business is to satisfy Krsna," that activity is called bhakti. If I become interested in some party, that is not... Sometimes people criticize these American and European devotees, that they think that "They are American devotee; we are Hindu devotee. There is difference." This is not bhakti-marga. This is upadhi. Why you should think yourself as Hindu? Why you should think of others who have come from America as American? That is less intelligent. Krsna-bhakta... Vaisnave jati-buddhih. If one thinks of Vaisnava as belonging to this class, this nation, he has no vision. Naraki. That is called naraki-buddhih. Vaisnave jati-buddhih arcye siladhir gurusu nara-matir vaisnave jati-buddhih. If we think the Deity as made of stone and made of wood, arcye sila-dhir; gurusu, nara-matih, if we accept spiritual master as ordinary human being; vaisnave jati-buddhih, and if we take a Vaisnava as belonging to America or Europe or India... No. They are transcendental. Neither the Deity in the temple is stone, neither the spiritual master is ordinary human being, nor the Vaisnava belongs to any caste. This vision is perfect vision. When you come to this vision, that is bhakti. Tat-paratvena nirmalam. A bhakta has to become purified.
Tat-paratvena, being dovetailed with the service of tat, om tat sat. Tat-param. This is the process of devotional service. One should not be designated "I am this," "I am that," "I am that." No. The world should unite. This Krsna consciousness movement is so nice that one should forget that he's Indian or Hindu or Christian or American or Indian. Everything should unite as servant of Krsna. That is bhakti-marga. Unfortunately, they distinguish between American Vaisnava and Indian Vaisnava: brahmana Vaisnava, sudra Vaisnava. No. A Vaisnava is Vaisnava. Visnur asya devatah iti vaisnava. One who has accepted Visnu as "my Lord," he has no designation. A Vaisnava has no such distinction. Sarvopadhi-vinirmuktam.
So this is the sutra given by Narada. Tat tenaiva vinirdiset. So we must follow the path of mahajana, the instruction of the acarya. Then we can become purified. And unless we are purified, there is no question of pure devotional service. Sa bhaktah prakrtah smrta. If one does not want to become advanced, if one does not want to become purified, then he remains a prakrta-bhakta. Prakrta-bhakta means executing devotional service under the instruction of spiritual master and the regulative principles of sastra, but he's still on the platform of material understanding. That is called prakrta-bhakta. A prakrta-bhakta cannot understand how another bhakta is transcendental. A prakrta-bhakta cannot understand that Vrndavana is always transcendental. Therefore Srila Jiva Gosvami has discussed this point in his Tattva-sandarbha, that we cannot accept any manufactured ideas. Because everyone is defective by the four defects of material life, we have to accept the version of Vedas, Puranas. He has tried to establish Puranas as Vedic supplementary. Others, they reject Puranas out of the Vedas. But Jiva Gosvami established. All the Gosvamis. Just like Rupa Gosvami has given, sruti-smrti-puranadi-pancaratriki-vidhim vina, aikantiki harer bhaktir utpatayaiva kalpate. It is utpata, disturbance. If you do not follow the principles of sruti, smrti, purana, pancaratriki-vidhi... Just like we were discussing this point, sarvopadhi-vinirmuktam. This is pancaratriki-vidhi. So if we do not follow these principles... Without following these principles, the so-called devotional service, Hari-bhakti, utpata, simply disturbance, simply a disturbance. Therefore we have to follow the principles laid down by the Gosvamis, Sad-gosvamis. Vande rupa-sanatanau raghu-yugau sri-jiva-gopalakau. And then our attempt will be successful.
Thank you very much. (end)"
SP Nectar of Devotion Lecture, Vrindavana India, Nov 1, 72
THE HOLY NAMES CAN SAVE ANYONE
"Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, "Please get up. You have chanted the holy name of Krsna; therefore the sinful reactions you have accrued for many millions of lives are now gone. You are now pure." Caitanya Caritamrta, Madhya Lila 18.205
" Even if he be distressed or degraded, any person who chants the holy name of the Lord, having heard it from a bona fide spiritual master, is immediately purified. Even if he chants the Lord's name jokingly or by chance, he and anyone who hears him are freed from all sins. Therefore how can anyone seeking disentanglement from the material clutches avoid chanting the name of Lord Sesa? Of whom else should one take shelter? " Srimad Bhagavatam 5-25-11
"Simply by chanting one holy name of Hari, a sinful man can counteract the reactions to more sins than he is able to commit. (Brhad-visnu Purana)" Srimad Bhagavatam 6.2.7 P
"The chanting of the holy name of Lord Visnu is the best process of atonement for a thief of gold or other valuables, for a drunkard, for one who betrays a friend or relative, for one who kills a brahmana, or for one who indulges in sex with the wife of his guru or another superior. It is also the best method of atonement for one who murders women, the king or his father, for one who slaughters cows, and for all other sinful men. Simply by chanting the holy name of Lord Visnu, such sinful persons may attract the attention of the Supreme Lord, who therefore considers, "Because this man has chanted My holy name, My duty is to give him protection." Srimad Bhagavatam 6.2.9-10
"To chant the holy name of the Lord just to counteract one's sinful activities, or to commit sinful activities on the strength of chanting the holy name, is offensive (namno balad yasya hi papa-buddhih). But although Ajamila engaged in sinful activities, he never chanted the holy name of Narayana to counteract them; he simply chanted the name Narayana to call his son. Therefore his chanting was effective. Because of chanting the holy name of Narayana in this way, he had already vanquished the accumulated sinful reactions of many, many lives. In the beginning he was pure, but although he later committed many sinful acts, he was offenseless because he did not chant the holy name of Narayana to counteract them. One who always chants the holy name of the Lord without offenses is always pure. As confirmed in this verse Ajamila was already sinless, and because he chanted the name of Narayana he remained sinless. It did not matter that he was calling his son; the name itself was effective." Srimad Bhagavatam 6.2.8 P
"Simply by chanting the holy name of Krsna, one is relieved from all the reactions of a sinful life. One can complete the nine processes of devotional service simply by chanting the holy name." Sri Caitanya Caritamrita, Madhya 15.107
"One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities, does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this material world, but attains My eternal abode, O Arjuna." This is the benediction of Lord Vishnu, Krsna. After giving up his body, a devotee returns home, back to Godhead....." Bhagavad-gita 4.9
"It was due to Ajamila's glorifying the holy name of the Supreme Lord that he was not punishable. The Visnudutas explained this as follows: "Simply by once chanting the holy name of Narayana, this brahmana has become free from the reactions of sinful life. Indeed, he has been freed not only from the sins of this life, but from the sins of many, many thousands of other lives. He has already undergone true atonement for all his sinful actions. If one atones according to the directions of the sastras, one does not actually become free from sinful reactions, but if one chants the holy name of the Lord, even a glimpse of such chanting can immediately free one from all sins. Chanting the glories of the Lord's holy name awakens all good fortune. Therefore there is no doubt that Ajamila, being completely free from all sinful reactions, should not be punished by Yamaraja." Srimad Bhagavatam 6.2, chapter summary
"... Of all the sacrifices, the chanting of Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare is the purest representation of Krsna." Bhagavad-gita 10.25 P
"As a result of chanting the Hare Krsna maha-mantra, one makes such great advancement in spiritual life that simultaneously his material existence terminates and he receives love of Godhead. The holy mane of Krsna is so powerful that by chanting even one name, one very easily achieves these transcendental riches."
Caitanya Caritamrta, Adi Lila 8. 28, P
"There is no difference between chanting the Hare Krsna mantra and meeting Krsna eye to eye, face to face. Simply one has to realize." Srila Prabhupada lecture, Bombay India, 1-12-73
FAQ or FREQUENTLY ANSWERED QUESTIONS
QUESTION: Be honest. Isn't Krishna consciousness merely a sect of Hinduism?
ANSWER: If anything, Hinduism is a sect of Krishna consciousness. :-) Or Sanatana Dharma. As mentioned throughout this site, Hinduism is a more recent term given by the Moslems, whereas Santana Dharma (also called Vaishnava religion) was given by God Himself and has roots back to the beginning of time. Actually, it is timeless. You can read within our scriptures for yourself if you wish, that they have been handed down directly from Lord Krishna through a parampara (lineage) system of pure devotees, all the way down to our dearly beloved Srila Prabhupada, unchanged. For example, our Bhagavad-gita is often different from the one many Hindus have memorized. (No offense intended - am just presenting facts.) Prabhupada named it "Bhagavad-gita As It Is" because his translations are free from interpolations and are Krishna's words unchanged in meaning. Many Impersonalists and Mayavadis have altered the meaning of this and other Vedic scripture.
QUESTION: Do the Hare Krishna devotees worship cows like the Hindus? If so, why?
ANSWER: Hare Krishna devotees know the difference between cow and God. :-) While we believe the cow is the next birth before human, no one should slip backwards and get any animal body, not even that of a cow. So one might wonder, than why all the fuss? Devotees do not slaughter the cow because she gives us milk like a mother would. We do not slit her throat simply because she is a less intelligent animal. After all, if a human should happen to have a child who is severely mentally challenged, the parent does not kill the child. Of course not, you may be thinking. Right. But that principle applies to all living creatures, as the life force is proof of a soul. And the cow, of all animals, keeps us healthy for life. (Here, the vegan issue may come up, which I will explain later.) So we protect and take care of her.
As human beings we often forget, animals have feelings too, including the cow! I had an experience, just as I was starting to become a devotee. I lived in the country and my landlord had a cow he never took care of. It was the middle of a very hot Summer, so I would bring her water every day. (He never gave her water.) Then I had to go out of town. When I returned, I resumed bringing her water. When she saw me coming, she had tears in her eyes! I swear on this! I had never seen that in my life, but most of us don't get that close to the animals that are slaughtered. She was crying, with big tears running down her face! How could anyone eat her after seeing that?! So everyone please know that whether they have personally experienced this or not, it should not matter, as it is a fact. Cows have feelings, and strong ones! Also, the cow a favorite animal of Krishna. For these and similar reasons, we do not kill her and instead protect her.
QUESTION: What is the position of women in Hinduism, and is it identical to the position of women in Krishna consciousness?
ANSWER: While some who practice Hinduism have recently become more open minded about this, especially some of the youth, traditional Hinduism teaches women are in a lesser role, cannot take brahmana or priestly initiation, cannot go on the altar, in some cases cannot cook in the temple kitchen. Often, women can not even touch sacred items. Some even believe the husband is her guru in this age of kali yuga [fallen age]. So on and so forth. Whereas in the original Krishna Consciousness movement our aim is to get off the bodily concept and identify with our soul. Jagat guru [pure devotee] Srila Prabhupada is spiritual master. He engaged the women equally as the men. Women are given the sacred thread of brahmana (priest), women go on the altar and offer aroti (worship God directly), women go out into the streets for Hari Nama [sharing Krishna consciousness with anyone open to it], and this list is actually quite long. The bottom line is that in truthfully transcendental Krishna consciousness, women are given full opportunity.
QUESTION: Isn't everyone who lives in India practicing Hinduism?
ANSWER: No. Matter of fact, there are many other religions in India. From Sikhs to yogis of all types, from Impersonalists to Mayavadis, Shivities to demigod worshipers. There are even Jews (Indian born), Muslims and so on that reside in India. And worshipers of the ancestors, to those who do not believe the Holy Name alone is freeing but perform elaborate purification ceremonies. Just as a reminder, Hinduism is a foreign word, not to be found in any Vedic scripture, as Prabhupada has explained above.
QUESTION: I thought all of Hinduism meant the worship of many gods and not the One Supreme God. Is Krishna a demigod?
ANSWER: No, He is not. There are some practitioners of Hinduism that do indeed worship many smaller gods or demigods. However, not all Hindus worship demigods. As touched on above, there are many different types of religions in India. Demigod worship is just one. Now, as for Krishna? He is not a demigod at all. He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, or in English: God. There is only One God, and that's Krishna. Regardless of what religion folks practice they are worshiping Krishna, knowing and often unknowingly. Vedic literature, which is not Indian but has roots going back to time immemorial, originated from the mouth of God Himself, and clearly explains His Name is Krishna. Others may not agree but that doesn't change the facts. Once, people believed the world was flat, and claimed it was scientific! Until Christopher Columbus proved them wrong. :-) So human knowledge is relative, limited and changing. God is God and cannot be whittled down into a concept of Him middle class (or anyone) prefer. However, we also do not wish to agitate the minds of those who are not ready to accept this, so we leave them alone. As long as they are religious and worshiping, that's fine.
QUESTION: I am new to practicing Krishna consciousness and once I ran into a Hindu who said to me, "Why don't you stick to our own religion?" My feelings were hurt and I didn't know what to say to this person. Though I know where my heart is, and that's with Krishna. Can you explain?
ANSWER: Some who practice Hinduism believe it is only for those with Indian bodies. They believe this so strongly they try to own any religion that has Krishna in it. This is merely another form of the caste system, which as you can see from the quotes above, Srila Prabhupada was strongly against and did not teach. So do not let others disturb your mind, as this path is for everyone. Merely learn some of the quotes above and you will be more prepared next time, as well as feel more confident within.
QUESTION: You have been mentioning Impersonalists and Mayavadis. What are they?
ANSWER: Impersonalists believe in merging into the impersonal light (brahmajyoti). Mayavadi's believe that we are God but just forgotten.
While we accept that the brahmajyoti exists and one can, if they desire, merge into it, we do not accept this as the highest, and for that matter, it deprives you of a personal relationship with God. Here on earth we want personal relationships and do not want to merge into the TV :-) or loose our-self in anything, ideally, and prefer to interact on a loving level with others. Where do we get this propensity from? It is inherited from our Divine Father, Lord Sri Krishna, and we prefer to have a personal relationship with Him.
Now the Mayavadis take it the extra mile and claim to BE God, but just forgot. So now God, the Supreme post over everything existing down to the tiniest ant or microbe, or planets in the sky, has a bad memory and lost his supreme power over it?! We do not accept that. This "I am God, you are God," philosophy is nonsense and bogus.
People take to these philosophies because everyone is trying to figure out, "What is my eternal, spiritual identity?" So, that identity is servant of God. Whether it be Impersonalism or Mayavadi, these deprive one of their original most sublime identity as well as a personal relationship with the Lord. Sometimes people are afraid to get that close and have a personal relationship with God because relationships in the material world have hurt them, or because they have too much fear of God, or because they realize they are less than perfect and don't want to undergo purification, etc.. Therefore, some take to Impersonalism and Mayavad philosophies. However, they are cutting themselves short spiritually until they accept a personal God in their life, sooner or later there is fall down from the brahmajyoti, etc., and there is return to this material world to start all over again.
Devotees of Krishna believe God is a Person, though a Transcendental Person, unlike any people we know here. So folks tend to think God cannot be a person because they have only known material persons. That is how most make their comparisons. But this is not the case with God. He has a body, but it is transcendental. It does not die and is eternal. It has form. (sac cid ananda vigraha) And He can eat with his ears, drink with His eyes if He wants. His body is unlimited, something many have trouble with, again because its hard to conceive of since we only know these things materially. God, being unlimited, can do whatever He wants, so certainly He can do this. Anyhow, understanding God in this way, we can have one of five loving relationships with Him. They are specifically described in the Vedas, though I don't have time to go into it now. But one can't have a personal, interacting, loving relationship with a light, the universe, cosmos, etc (various types of impersonalism), or with themselves as illusion that they are God. One can only have a personal relationship with God who is a (transcendental) Person.
QUESTION: What is the Hare Krishna stance on Blacks or Afro-Americans and Deity worship? I have heard Hindus do not allow this, so was wondering what you allow and disallow?
ANSWER: To disallow Afro-American's the opportunity to become brahmana and perform Deity worship is yet another angle of the caste system, a system Prabhupada was against. In our Krishna conscious society we have people from all cultures and backgrounds, all skin colors and yes, blacks, performing aroti, giving class, leading kirtan, cooking in Krishna's kitchen and so on. Srila Prabhupada has also given all of the above sanyas (the most renounced order of life, and highly respected) who wanted it and qualified for it. As long as a person becomes qualified, skin color, country of origin, or any such material designations are insignificant. Of course, we must remember the idea is to go above brahmana and become Vaisnava. :-) And anyone can do that too.
QUESTION: So if someone is a Hindu, they are not practicing Krishna conscious, right?
ANSWER: That is not what's being said on this site. A person may be a Hindu due to their body, and it is up to them to choose which religion they wish to follow. Therefore, they can be Hindu and a Vaisnava too.
Please chant: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare; Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare -- and your life will be sublime!