Adam and Eve

Christians often muse how different it would now be had Adam and Eve not tasted fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Had they not succumbed to this temptation, they could have dwelled perhaps forever in that idyllic garden of Eden created for them by the Lord God. Alas, such thoughts are no more than wishful thinking. Neither Adam and Eve, nor it seems, anyone since them has been able to exercise such stringent self restraint, nor avoided suffering the consequences. Who is to be blamed? Should we fault Eve alone, or Adam as well? Or, does every individual who subsequently erred bear responsibility? Or perhaps we should accuse the serpent? Certainly this third option is most tempting, because it frees us of personal guilt,. But beware of temptation! Behind this serpentine allurement lies a deadly trap which may severely test our faith. For if we blame the serpent we may as well blame the serpent’s master. And, having gone so far, we may as well ask why an all-knowing and all-loving God made such a crafty creature at all. With full knowledge of human foibles, why did God set in motion such a doomed cause-and-effect situation which has led today to “suffering, inequality and injustice, disaster and death,” in short to the “human hurt and wickedness that confronts us on every hand?” To continue on such questioning may even lead one to doubt the very existence of God. Yet human reason impels those thirsting for the truth to seek answers to these questions. Those who take such risk may find the tender creepers of their devotion strengthened by the ordeal that reason demands.

Let us join M. Peterson, et al as they explore these issues in Chapter 6 of Reason and  Religious Belief. We shall examine the logical and evidential forms of the problem of evil, and the typical theistic approaches to theodicy. Finally, we will look at the ancient texts of India which may help Christians and those of other persuasions to reconcile the reality of evil with the existence of God.

Any precise definition of evil will tend to favor one particular theory of evil over another. To avoid such prejudice, we may specify two broad categories of evil: moral evil and natural evil. Moral evil includes the wrongful acts and bad character traits of free human beings, while natural evil covers the physical pain and suffering resulting from either impersonal forces or human actions. With these commonsense notions in mind, let us now proceed to compare and contrast the logical and evidential problems of evil. read more

The Philosopher of Islamic Terror

In the days after Sept. 11, 2001, many people anticipated a quick and satisfying American victory over Al Qaeda. The terrorist army was thought to be no bigger than a pirate ship, and the newly vigilant police forces of the entire world were going to sink the ship with swift arrests and dark maneuvers. Al Qaeda was driven from its bases in Afghanistan. Arrests and maneuvers duly occurred and are still occurring. Just this month, one of Osama bin Laden’s top lieutenants was nabbed in Pakistan. Police agents, as I write, seem to be hot on the trail of bin Laden himself, or so reports suggest.

Yet Al Qaeda has seemed unfazed. Its popularity, which was hard to imagine at first, has turned out to be large and genuine in more than a few countries. Al Qaeda upholds a paranoid and apocalyptic worldview, according to which ”Crusaders and Zionists” have been conspiring for centuries to destroy Islam. And this worldview turns out to be widely accepted in many places — a worldview that allowed many millions of people to regard the Sept. 11 attacks as an Israeli conspiracy, or perhaps a C.I.A. conspiracy, to undo Islam. Bin Laden’s soulful, bearded face peers out from T-shirts and posters in a number of countries, quite as if he were the new Che Guevara, the mythic righter of cosmic wrongs.

The vigilant police in many countries, applying themselves at last, have raided a number of Muslim charities and Islamic banks, which stand accused of subsidizing the terrorists. These raids have advanced the war on still another front, which has been good to see. But the raids have also shown that Al Qaeda is not only popular; it is also institutionally solid, with a worldwide network of clandestine resources. This is not the Symbionese Liberation Army. This is an organization with ties to the ruling elites in a number of countries; an organization that, were it given the chance to strike up an alliance with Saddam Hussein’s Baath movement, would be doubly terrifying; an organization that, in any case, will surely survive the outcome in Iraq. read more

Points for a Spiritual World Civilization

In 1968, the editor of BACK TO GODHEAD suggested to Srila Prabhupada that BTG publish an article explaining point by point how to develop a spiritual world civilization. On October 17, 1968, Srila Prabhupada wrote the following reply.

Regarding your point program for a spiritual world civilization—it is a very nice suggestion. And practically our Krsna consciousness movement is built on this idea, that we want to make a world civilization on the basis of spiritual understanding. So I am giving you some points which you may expand or do it for understanding of the people in general. But the point should be as follows: first point, that any civilization devoid of God consciousness or Krsna consciousness is no civilization at all. It is simply a polished type of animal society. This is the first point. So at the present moment, the modern civilization on the basis of so-called scientific knowledge and economic development is trying to avoid God consciousness, or Krsna consciousness—that is the defect of the modern civilization. Therefore, in spite of all advancement it is zero. So zero has no value. And millions of zeroes put together does not make any value. But if one is put on the left side of the zero, it increases the value. Then one zero becomes ten, two zeros become 100, three zeros becomes 1,000, so it is very nice. This point should be clearly discussed, that without God consciousness, Krsna consciousness, any attempt of human civilization, so called philosophical or political or economical or labor, they are all zero.

The human society should be divided as a social order, they should be divided as the renounced order of life, retired order of life, householder, and student life. read more

You Don’t Know Feminism

As a woman, I do not understand how you can form a website based on such a disgraceful idea. Everyone is obviously entitled to their own opinion, but your opinion lacks intelligence and is solely based on ignorance. Feminism is not about shunning the idea of being a housewife, etc. In fact it has nothing to do with that. It is simply a choice. For whoever wrote the article I was reading, how can you say that feminists basically look down on women who are housewives? I have never in my research, schooling, etc. heard such a ridiculous comment and criticism of feminism. I suggest that your website educate itself more on what feminism is all about before you contain ignorant articles on your website.

The quote above comes from one of many “Scorching Rhetoric” notes we’ve received here at LAF. One complaint we often hear is that we know nothing about feminism and that what we claim feminism stands for (or has stood for in the past) is not true. As will be obvious to anyone who takes the time to carefully read this site (particularly our Theme Articles), we do not seek to lump all those who call themselves feminists into the same category. Even feminists disagree about what feminism means (see “What Is Feminism?”). You can no more stereotype feminists than you can stereotype all women. Just as there is no consensus within the Church about what constitutes a homemaker (sadly enough), there is no consensus within the feminist movement about what constitutes a true feminist. This can make it extremely difficult to nail down just what feminism is about and where the movement desires to take women and society in the future. But we can learn about the various objectives it has promoted and claimed as its own down through the decades.

Those who read widely and who have studied the feminist movement from its earliest roots to the present know that some of the most prominent women (and men) involved in the movement have been rabidly anti-homemaker. In fact, the more radical feminists of the 19th and 20th centuries wholeheartedly embraced Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto, which called for women to be pushed out of the home and into factories, since the labor of men and women must be made “equal” while capitalism and private property were abolished. Engels wrote, “The overthrow of mother right was the world historical defeat of the female sex. The man took command in the home also; the woman was degraded and reduced to servitude; she became the slave of his lust and a mere instrument for the production of children” ( The Origin of the Family, 1884). This view of the woman at home as some poor slave “reduced to servitude” and “a mere instrument for the production of children” is echoed over and over again in the writings of feminists who are now enshrined as patron saints of the women’s movement. Let’s allow them to speak for themselves: read more

Varnasrama-dharma and Srila Prabhupada

Although Lord Caitanya stated that varnasrama is external to bhakti (CC Madhya 8.59), all Vaisnava acaryas have recognized the importance of varnasrama in regulating society, and that it should be followed by devotees at least until they reach the perfectional stage. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura particularly emphasized the need for daiva-varnasrama-dharma, stating that premature abandonment of it had led to mere imitation of advanced bhakti by persons who were actually fallen (prakrta-sahajiyas).

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura instructed Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati to establish daiva-varnasrama-dharma and the pure chanting of the holy name. These two are linked, for the widespread chanting of the holy name necessitates the support of daiva-varnasrama-dharma; otherwise as history has shown it devolves into offensive chanting by prakrta-sahajiyas. Thus when Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati first toured South India, before launching his preaching mission, he took special interest in learning from Sri Vaisnavas and Madhvas about daiva-varnasrama-dharma.

Our own Srila Prabhupada, even before he ventured to the West, proposed reinstituting daiva-varnasrama-dharma (see for instance “Conception of Gita-Nagari,” BTG, May 20, 1956). Srila Prabhupada suffered heart attacks en voyage to the USA in his seventieth year; in his first two years in America he faced several health crises. He knew he didn’t have long, that he could leave at any minute. He mentioned this many times, as can be testified by anyone who regularly hears his recorded lectures. read more

Can women be public leaders?

No. One may be surprised with the quick answer, but this is Srila Prabhupada’s answer:”NO”. He wrote it and he said it. He didn’t hesitate through a whole American preaching tour to repeat the same thing to any female reporter who challenged him right away at the local airports he was visiting. This is a sastric statement and he never changed anything stated in the sastra.

Women are specifically victimized by sentimentality. Their senses and emotions are generally far more developed than those of their male counterparts. Without them there would be very poor social life in the society and far more simple economical development. They are known as “stri”, those who expand the concept of sensuality. Just as men are characterized as simple semina-dischargers and grand conceptual visionaries, capable of sustaining in their minds occasional long term scenarios, so a woman’s character is to act instantly, emotionally and instinctively. These are general facts. Of course there are variations, but no exceptions.

That makes women entirely vulnerable to sensual impressions and easily prone to be cheated. A cheated manager becomes a cheater himself and so the whole society deviates, gliding towards destruction. This is what Arjuna was afraid of before the Kuruksetra battle started. Men controlled by women assume the same quality and that makes them specifically dangerous. They look like men but act like women. As Lord Caitanya points out, better to be in a cage with a tiger than to be together with such a remote control operated man. read more

After 41 years this desire of Srila Prabhupada is getting fulfilled

Dear BRC supporters and well wishers

Please accept my humble obeisances _/\ò_. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

 You will be glad to know that on April 7th 2013 the BRC and the managing committee (Bhakti Vinod Gosthi) of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s birth place at Dodasa Mandir, Birnagar signed an agreement to allow the BRC to catalogue, scan and preserve all the original works of Bhaktivinoda Thakura. All originals will remain at Dodasa Mandir and copies will be kept at the BRC. read more

Sounding the Alarms – Part 3

Part Three: Sounding the Alarms / Historic Revisionism

Scholars Among The Deluded

If this is not adequate enough to sound the alarm and rally the tilak clad troops into action then keep reading.  The real slap in the face is the fact that this pathetically poor attempt to undermine the Classic Bhagavad Gita As It Is, has been nominated for “Best Book Of the Year.”  (Along with eleven alternative titles)  Fortunately the group making the evaluations is an obscure organization called ForeWord Reviews that is devoted exclusively to critiquing books from independent publishers.  Mr. Kuikens Gita As It Was falls into the group: Adult Nonfiction/Reference/Category.  Details can be found here at:  https://botya.forewordreviews.com/finalists/2012/reference read more

European Misappropriation of Sanskrit led to the Aryan Race Theory

It is not widely known that the European quest to appropriate the highly prized library of Sanskrit’s ancient spiritual texts motivated the construction of the “Aryan” race identity, one of the ideological roots of Nazism. The Sanskrit word “arya” is an adjective that means noble or pure. For example, the famous Buddhist Four Noble Truths are described as the Four Arya Truths or catvari aryasatyani in Sanskrit. Arya does not refer to a race, but a cultural quality venerated in Sanskrit texts.

German nationalism turned this word into a noun, “Aryan,” and capitalized it to refer to an imagined race of people that were the original Sanskrit speakers who had composed its great texts. Early romantic claims that Indians were the ancestors of the Europeans were gradually replaced by the new myth that a race called “Indo-Aryans” was the common ancestors to both. Their origin was thought to be in the Caucasus Mountains, hence the term “Caucasian.” Later, the “Indo” was dropped and the white Aryan Race Theory emerged. Thus, from the European desire to be seen as the inheritors of the Sanskrit civilization, the notion of a European super-race was born, with Germany as its highest manifestation.

How did this come about? In the late 1700s, European identity was shaken when scholars discovered that Sanskrit was closely related to the European languages, though much older and more sophisticated. At first, this discovery fed European Romantic imagination, in which India was glorified as the perfect past. Herder, a German Romanticist, saw Europe’s “discovery” of India as a “re-discovery” of its own foundation. India was viewed as Europe’s mother civilization by Frederick Schlegel in Germany and by Voltaire in France. William Jones, a British colonial administrator, considered Sanskrit the most marvelous product of the human mind. Sanskrit and Indology entered most major European universities between 1800 and 1850, challenging if not replacing Latin and Greek texts as a source for “new” ideas. Many new disciplines were shaped by the ensuing intellectual activity, including linguistics, comparative religion, modern philosophy and sociology. read more

Vairagya, Salaries, and Political Etiquette

Prabhupada: Niskincanasya. One who has decided that “This world is useless. I have to take birth repeatedly and accept different types of bodies and suffer.” Body means… Those who have understood this fact and disgusted, so bhakti line is for them. One who has the tendency to enjoy this material world, and they are taking advantage of God, “Give me good wife, give me good work, good meal, good enjoyment,” they are not in the bhakti line. They are in the very nascent stage.

Tamala Krsna: Nescient stage?

Prabhupada: Lower stage. Vairagya-vidya-nija-bhakti-yogam [Cc. Madhya 6.254]. That… There is one verse written by Sarvabhauma Bhattacarya. What page I don’t… Siksartham. The bhakti-yoga, nija-bhakti-yoga… Bhakti-yoga means devotion to Krsna. And that is vairagya-vidya, how to learn, renounce this world. Otherwise why Caitanya Mahaprabhu gave up His grhastha life? He’s the same person. Why Rupa Gosvami gave up their ministership? By their personal behavior they are showing this is not required. This is vairagya-vidya. So under the circumstances, those who have no vairagya, they cannot live in the temple. They are taking advantage of the temple facilities for their sense enjoyment. Do you understand? read more