The Disciple of Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī Example

Hare Krsna,

This pastime between Lord Caitanya and the disciple of Prakasananda Sarasvati – a mayavadi – is a beautiful and enlightening one. It is very unusual, in fact rare, to hear a Mayavadi sannyasis accept and boldly declare that Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Narayana Himself.

He said, “Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Narayaṇa Himself. When He explains the Vedanta-sutra, He does so very nicely. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu explains the direct meaning of the Upaniṣads. When all learned scholars hear this, their minds and ears are satisfied. Giving up the direct meaning of the Vedanta-sutra and the Upaniṣads, Saṅkaracarya imagines some other interpretation. All the interpretations of Saṅkaracarya are imaginary. Such imaginary interpretations are verbally accepted by learned scholars, but they do not appeal to the heart. The words of Sri Kṛṣṇa Caitanya Mahaprabhu are firm and convincing, and I accept them as true. In this Age of Kali, one cannot be delivered from the material clutches simply by formally accepting the renounced order. ” (CC Madhya 25.24-28)

This episode indeed proves that the Lord possesses transcendental qualities and can attract everyone, even the impersonalists such as the disciple of Prakasananda Sarasvati. Why wouldn’t it be so? He heard directly from the Supreme Lord about the predominance of devotional service to the Lord. One’s heart changes when he hears from a pure devotee. In this case, the disciple heard directly from the Supreme Lord Himself. Hence this transformation is not at all astonishing. By hearing directly from a pure devotee, one’s illusions are dispelled. And when one also chants the Hare Krsna mahamantra, the benefits of devotional service will certainly be realized.

Devotional service to the Supreme Lord is one’s real constitutional identity. Only when one reaches that stage does one become true atmarama. Therefore all paths ultimately lead to bhakti. It may happen in this lifetime or some future lifetimes. Prakasananda Sarasvati’s disciple realized this and became a true atmarama. “He was self-satisfied, practiced in renunciation, and unattracted by external material desires. Due to practicing austerities and self-discipline, he had developed clear intelligence.” (DMd) Of course, none of this would have happened without the mercy of the Lord.

By accepting the Bhagavan feature of the Lord, the disciple experienced the ‘ananda’ aspect of the Lord. The Brahman and Paramatma features do not have ‘bliss’ or ‘ananda’ aspect.

Therefore the lesson for all of us is:

  1. To always worship Lord Krsna in His personal form
  2. To always engage in hearing about the Lord
  3. To always chant the Holy Name of the Lord.

If the so-called hopeless Mayavadis can attain the mercy of the Lord, why can’t we lesser mortal attain the same?

All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

Vaiṣṇava Etiquette and Offenses

Hare Krsna,

I want to start with a quote from one of the academic scholars who studied the Krsna consciousness movement. Dr. Larry Shinn of Oberlin College was one of several professors interviewed by Stephen J. Gelberg in the book Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna. When Dr. Shinn was asked, “From you point of view, what are ISKCON’s chances of survival as a religious institution?.” He replied as follows:

“I think the movement will fare well precisely to the extent that the leaders adhere to the spiritual practices taught by Prabhupada and to the extent that they have achieved the kinds of levels of spiritual advancement that come with those practices.”

My understanding is that Dr. Shinn was indirectly alluding to importance of maintaining Vaishnava etiquette.

For any organization to survive, one has to follow the inherent culture and the human-to-human behavior. This applies to material world too. Even modern corporations stress on the principles of team work, respect for each other, and cooperation. Without discipline and order, nothing can survive. More so for a religious organization where faith is a strong foundation. Any disorderly conduct or internal conflict shakes the very foundation on which the organization has been built.

A Vaishnava society is no exception. It is based on faith and adherence to guru, sadhu, and sastra. Vaishnava etiquette should be strictly maintained especially when it comes to the spiritual master. All the Vaisnava scriptures emphasize that one’s relationship with Krsna is realized through one’s relationship with the spiritual master. Love of Godhead begins by hearing about the Lord from His authorized representative, the Vaishnava spiritual master. This is called sravana. A devotee’s relationship with the Lord, therefore, begins with his relationship with Lord’s representative, the spiritual master. The disciple understands his spiritual master to be sent by Krsna to save him. And he understands that pleasing the spiritual master is the most important principle in spiritual life and is the secret of advancement.

Therefore, it is not surprising that the mangal-arati prayer sung first thing in the morning in every ISKCON temple is nothing but prayer to the spiritual master. By meditating on the verses of the Guru-astaka, we shall enter the glories of the guru-disciple relationship.

“The spiritual master is receiving benediction from the ocean of mercy. Just as a cloud pours water on a forest fire to extinguish it, so the spiritual master delivers the materially afflicted world by extinguishing the blazing fire of material existence. I offer my respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of such a spiritual master, who is an ocean of auspicious qualities.”

Therefore observation of proper Vaishnava etiquette to the spiritual master and to other devotees must never be neglected. One should always guard against committing any offenses, intentionally or unintentionally.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

Qualification by Character – Not by Birth or Popular Opinion

Hare Krsna,

In the analogy of a corporate environment, we interview potential candidates for hiring. Once birth, gender, nationality, cultural background, marital status, etc. are never factors we take into consideration in assessing someone’s qualification. We always looks for the person’s ability, aptitude, character or nature, skill level in determining the person’s fitment for the job. The fact is not everyone is suited for all types of jobs. Someone with scholarly aptitude will do well in research environment; someone with a knack of sharing knowledge will do well in teaching environment. There is also a common corporate joke that someone who knows how to blabber will do well on sales or management roles. If one is hired for a wrong position, he may enjoy his role for a short while. But eventually boredom will set in, he will become miserable and productive, and thereby make the whole team unproductive. Hence hiring a right person for the right job is extremely important as well as the most challenging part of a recruiter’s or hiring manager’s life.

Similar aspect applies to self-realization as well. Not everyone is tailored for spiritual education or upliftment. Everyone’s nature is different. There is a reason why Lord Krsna created the four divisions and orders of human society.

“According to the three modes of material nature and the work associated with them, the four divisions of human society are created by Me. And although I am the creator of this system, you should know that I am yet the nondoer, being unchangeable.” (BG 4.13).

The four statuses and orders of human society — brāhmaṇas, kṣatriyas, vaiśyas and śūdras, as well as brahmacārīs, gṛhasthas, vānaprasthas and sannyāsīs — are all divisions of quality, education, culture and spiritual advancement attained by practicing control of the mind and the senses. All these divisions are based on the particular nature of each individual person, not on the principle of birth. Birth is never a consideration for someone’s qualification. The varnasrama-dharma has been created to purify conditioned souls who are inimical to the Supreme Lord. A sudra can take up spiritual education if he has brahminical qualification. Vidura is famous in history as born of a sudraṇa mother, yet he is more than a brahmaṇa by qualification because he is seen here to be the disciple of a great sage, Maitreya Muni. Unless one achieves at least the brahminical qualifications, one cannot understand the Vedic hymns. Mahabharata is also a division of the Vedas, but it is meant for less intelligence people. The less intelligent section of society can avail themselves of the Vedic instructions simply by studying the Ramayana and Mahabharata.

Srila Prabhupada has made the process of graduation to brahminical level very easy. All one has to do is chant the holy name of the Lord at least 16 rounds, and follow the four regulative principles. A brahman is supposed to be peaceful, self-control, austere, pure, tolerant, honest, knowledgeable, religious, and have wisdom. These are the natural qualities by which the brahmanas work. If a sudra is immaturely elevated to that position, it will simply create disturbance in the society. This is what we are witnessing in Kali-yuga. Sudras are becoming administrators and brahmanas are working under someone else and doing menial job. This has led to such a chaos in the world.  Hence Lord Krsna advises in Bhagavad Gita that “It is better to engage in one’s own occupation, even though one may perform it imperfectly, than to accept another’s occupation and perform it perfectly. Prescribed duties, according to one’s nature, are never affected by sinful reactions.” (BG 18.47) “By following his qualities of work every man can become perfect.” (BG 18.45)

The road to self-realization is not closed to anyone as long as one is willing to accept brahminical standards under a bonafide spiritual master. There is no question about the necessity of accepting a spiritual master. Everyone accepted a spiritual master including Lord Krsna and Lord Caitanya. The only stipulation is that the spiritual master should be bona fide; i.e., the spiritual master must be in the proper chain of disciplic succession, called the parampara system.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

The Ātmārāma Verse Defeats Impersonalism

Hare Krsna,

From Lord Caitanya’s 61 different explanations of the atmarama verse, it is concluded that real atmarama stage is achieved when one engages in devotional service to the Supreme Lord Krsna. The ability to engage in devotional service comes through the mercy of the pure devotees of the Lord. These saintly persons help us become nirgrantha or free from material entanglement. One of the meanings of nirgrantha is one who is liberated from the material knots of ignorance. We have seen this in the pastime of Narada Muni and the hunter Mrgari. When he came in contact with Narada Muni, Mrgari gave up his sinful tendencies, accepted Narada as his spiritual master, and engaged in devotional service to Lord Krsna. This is actually a matter of getting higher taste. When one tastes a higher taste, he gives up lower tastes. Just like we gave up our meat eating tendencies when we tasted Krsna prasadam.

To look at this from a different perspective, every person seeks self-satisfaction and happiness. All living entities are ananda-mayo-bhyasat (we are all pleasure-seekers by nature). Therefore we all tend to gravitate towards something that gives us pleasure. People go to bars and pubs as they find pleasure there; some people go to watch sporting events for their pleasure; impersonalists aspire to attain Brahman effulgence as they think their eternal pleasure lies there. Similarly devotees engage in devotional service to attain highest pleasure. To derive pleasure is very natural to every living entity. But the question is how to know what the ultimate pleasure is and how to attain it?

This brings back to our original understanding of the nature of the jiva soul. By constitution, the soul is sac-cid-ananda (full of eternity, knowledge and bliss). Due to the entanglement with material nature, the embodied soul false tries to derive pleasure from matter. However since the soul is minute part and parcel of Lord Krsna, the soul is qualitatively similar but quantitatively different to Lord Krsna. This means that qualitatively, the jiva soul can taste the same eternal and ultimate pleasure. The path and process to that pleasure is showed to us by the pure devotees of the Lord.

All other types of pleasure are temporary and give misery ultimately. The impersonalists may be successful in reaching the Brahman effulgence. But even that situation is temporary. I actually think reaching Brahman effulgence stage is boring. There is no service, no exchange of love. How long can one sustain in that stage? Devotional service means there is Lord, there is devotee and there is an exchange of love between the two. Whenever there is such an exchange, there is also an exchange of pleasure and happiness. That’s where the real pleasure is. In Brahman realization stage, there is no such exchange of reciprocity. Eventually the impersonalists, after being fed up of that stage, fall down and eventually seek higher pleasure.

According to SB 1.2.11, the Supreme Lord is realized in three stages – Brahman, Paramatma, and Bhagavan. Brahman stage is realization of sac feature of the Lord – the aspect of eternity. Paramatma realization is realization of sat and sit features (eternity and knowledge). But Bhagavan realization is the highest stage and is the realization of complete sat-cit-ananda features. This is where real ananda or bliss is tasted. Therefore the impersonalist stage is not the ultimate stage; it is one of the preliminary stages.

By this we can see how Lord Caitanya’s explanation defeats the impersonalistic mentality. All living entities have free will to choose how they want to derive higher taste of devotional service. Some may not know it and therefore the pure devotees of the Lord enlighten them. Some know if but choose to ignore it (like the impersonalists); so be it. And others such as the most-intelligent devotees immediately want to take up real devotional service to the Supreme Lord. The choice is ours.

Since Lord Krsna is all-attractive, all kinds of atmaramas have the opportunity to use their energy to awaken their constitutional positions as eternal servants of Kṛṣṇa. The real atmarama is when we engage in loving devotional service to Lord Krsna. Even Sukadeva Goswami who was an impersonalist atmarama in the beginning took up devotional service to the Lord. It is amazing how the same Sukadeva Goswami narrated the Srimad Bhagavatam to Pariksit Maharaj – and which reached us through disciplic succession. It is that same Srimad Bhagavatam that can be learned only through devotional service and from the person Bhagavata.

SB 1.2.22: “Certainly, therefore, since time immemorial, all transcendentalists have been rendering devotional service to Lord Kṛṣṇa, the Personality of Godhead, with great delight, because such devotional service is enlivening to the self.”

All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

A Pure Devotee is like a Touchstone

Hare Krsna,

We all recite this prayer every morning either in the temple or whenever we meet other vaisnavas:

vancha-kalpatarubhyash cha

kripa-sindhubhya eva cha

patitanam pavanebhyo

vaishnavebhyo namo namaha

“I offer my respectful obeisances unto the Vaishnava devotees of the Lord. They are just like desire trees and can fulfill the desires of everyone, and they are full of compassion for the fallen conditioned souls.”

Here it is mentioned that the devotees are like desire trees or touchstones. When an iron rod comes in contact with fire, it becomes fire through prolonged association (or exposure) to the fire. Similarly the pure devotees have touchstone like qualities that, whoever comes in contact with, becomes a devotee himself. There is another popular verse in CC  that signifies the value of devotee association:

sadhu-sanga, sadhu-sanga — sarva-sastre kaya

lava-matra sadhu-sange sarva-siddhi haya

“The verdict of all revealed scriptures is that by even a moment’s association with a pure devotee, one can attain all success.” (CC Madhya 22.54)

Therefore, the value of a pure touch-stone like devotee cannot be underestimated. To take an example, whenever there is a humanitarian crisis somewhere in a country, the government (President or Prime Minister) sends his rescue team on the rescue mission. The team is advised not to discriminate against anyone, but rather to save one and all. In this case, the rescue team is the trusted servitors of the government. They are empowered and equipped with everything needed to succeed in the rescue mission. Similarly Lord Krsna sends his rescue team from time to time to save (deliver) the fallen conditioned souls. His rescue team is none other than His most qualified representatives. The Lord empowers them with all the power for them to succeed in His mission. As if the Lord tell His devotees, “Here take this touchstone of pure love of Godhead. Touch it to the body of whoever you think is qualified to take to My devotional service.” Narada Muni is one such devotee. There are so many pastimes of Narada Muni delivering the fallen conditioned souls. Narada Muni himself was delivered by the sages, who he served along with his mother, when he was a small boy.

Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu and His closest associates are the perfect touchstones who delivered countless conditioned souls. Haven’t we heard of numerous instances where the Lord embraced someone, and the person immediately developed ecstatic symptoms of pure love of Godhead? Such is the power of a pure devotee of the Lord.

Srila Prabhupada is one such touchstone who has delivered so many conditioned souls. People who came in contact with him immediately took up Krsna consciousness. Before Srila Prabhupada left his body, he left behind his touchstone in the form of his books, his disciples, and his instructions. By coming in contact with them, we too are getting purified and delivered from this material existence. Through Srila Prabhupada, Lord Caitanya executed His plan to transform the ‘nirgranthas’ by giving them the opportunity to come in contact with His representatives.

As devotees, it is our duty to treat the touchstone as real touchstone and not consider it as a random piece of useless stone. We must have faith in the spiritual master and his instructions. Only then can we be delivered. The hunter Mrgari sincerely followed the instructions of his spiritual master, Narada Muni, and became attached to the Lord. A pure devotee is like Ganges water that can purify everyone.

“Being situated in his original Kṛṣṇa conscious position, a pure devotee does not identify with the body. Such a devotee should not be seen from a materialistic point of view. Indeed, one should overlook a devotee’s having a body born in a low family, a body with a bad complexion, a deformed body, or a diseased or infirm body. According to ordinary vision, such imperfections may seem prominent in the body of a pure devotee, but despite such seeming defects, the body of a pure devotee cannot be polluted. It is exactly like the waters of the Ganges, which sometimes during the rainy season are full of bubbles, foam and mud. The Ganges waters do not become polluted. Those who are advanced in spiritual understanding will bathe in the Ganges without considering the condition of the water.” (NOI Text 6)

We should also pray to Lord Caitanya to give us the qualities of touchstone so that we can also become a spiritual master and try to liberate others. But first, we must cultivate a submissive and surrendering to our spiritual master(s) just like Mrgari did.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

Simple Living, High Thinking

Hare Krsna,

The bane of modern world is that people have forgotten the wisdom of simple living, high thinking. The world has become more complex than ever, people’s wants and desires are practically endless; desires are created by an intense greed for sense-gratification (desire to lord it over the material nature). When desires are not fulfilled, anger arises. Gradually the sane man is led to hell through lust, anger and greed.

“There are three gates leading to this hell – lust, anger and greed. Every sane man should give these up, for they lead to the degradation of the soul.” (BG 16.21)

Today’s world is practically a hell. This is primarily because the current motto is “complex living, low thinking.” People prefer to show off living in huge mansions, wear designer clothes and accessories, drive fanciest of cars, buy latest and most expensive gadgets, and so on. We see highly materially educated people wearing suits but demonstrating low level of thinking (or no thinking at all). Common people try to emulate these showy people and fall into the trap of gross materialism. And when compounded at a global level, this phenomenon causes havoc to the society.

If we analyze this philosophically, the reason behind this consumerist culture is because of people’s forgetfulness of their spiritual identity. When they think they are the bodies and that satisfaction of the bodily needs is the life’s goal, then they become totally bewildered. They cannot discern between temporary and eternal. Because they are bodily conscious, their behavior is geared around living a materially-high life.

But when we realize that we are not the body but the spirit soul, when we realize that the body is temporary and subject to gradual decay and death, only then we will be able to understand the wisdom of simple living, high thinking. When the body, and everything associated with it, is temporary, then what is the use of adopting means that make our existence on bodily platform complex and unachievable. On the other hand, when we understand that we are the eternal spirit souls, parts and parcels of the Supreme Lord, automatically we rise to the platform of high thinking. Therefore simple living entails minimizing our bodily wants, high thinking means nourishing our eternal soul. Because of this lack of understand, the world is following the topsy-turvy concept of simple living, high thinking.

“Simple living, high thinking” is not just the art of living; it starts with the art of thinking, feeling, and willing. Our thoughts become words. Our words become actions. Our actions become habits. Our habits become character. Our character become destiny. Therefore we first have to have our thinking right. We have to nourish our soul and intelligence with right spiritual knowledge. Hence high thinking must come before simple living. The more we become spiritually strengthened, the simpler will our living become.

But all this is possible when we become Krsna conscious. “When a person takes to Kṛṣṇa consciousness, there is no need to care for material necessities. Kṛṣṇa says, yoga-kṣemaṁ vahāmy aham: “I personally carry all necessities to My devotees.” Looking from another perspective, when we understand that the source of our income is not actually the source of maintenance. And that source of maintenance is none other than the Supreme Lord, Krsna. When we realize that He is the ultimate provider, we will no longer have anxieties about bodily needs. The six Goswamis lived a life of mendicants because they had faith that the Supreme Lord is their ultimate provider. Therefore, they never worried about where their next meal is going to come from, or where they are going to spend the night.

In order to live a life of “Simple Living, High Thinking”, our faith in the Supreme Lord has to be strengthened. The faith can be strengthened by association with advanced devotees or pure devotees, purifying our soul by chanting and hearing about the Supreme Lord. When the soul is purified, then everything else will follow including simple living.

So I say, “Get Thinking Right, Live Simple Life.”


All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

Whole-hearted Surrender to the Spiritual Master

Hare Krsna,

While meditating on this topic, a random thought came to my mind. Of all the hunters, why did Narada Muni approach only this hunter Mrgari? Why not the other hunters in his tribe? I am sure Mrgari was not randomly selected. Either he had some sukriti (pious credits) from his previous lives to get the association of a pure devotee like Narada Muni, or he is just fortunate to receive the Lord’s direct mercy. My realization is that Mrgari had one good quality that made him eligible for Narada Muni’s mercy and association – his willingness to hear from and surrender to a spiritual master. And that is the beginning of spiritual life. One should have faith in a pure representative of the Supreme Lord. Mrgari had faith that Narada Muni is the right person to enlighten him; he had faith in his instructions.

What happens when the Lord sees that one has faith to hear His messages?

Sri Kṛṣṇa, the Personality of Godhead, who is the Paramatma [Supersoul] in everyone’s heart and the benefactor of the truthful devotee, cleanses desire for material enjoyment from the heart of the devotee who has developed the urge to hear His messages, which are in themselves virtuous when properly heard and chanted.” (SB 1.2.17)

Seeing our eagerness to hear, the Lord gives us sadhu-sanga – association of His pure devotees. In this case, the Lord sent Narada Muni to Mrgari to instruct him transcendental knowledge. Therefore, whole-hearted surrender to a spiritual master is the important element of progressive in spiritual advancement. And that surrender should be accompanied by humility, desire to make sincere inquiries, and a service attitude.

Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth.” (BG 4.34)

The hunter Mrgari displayed these qualities when he enquired from Narada Muni:

The hunter then admitted that he was convinced of his sinful activity, and he said, ‘I have been taught this business from my very childhood. Now I am wondering how I can become freed from these unlimited volumes of sinful activity.’” (CC Madhya 24.253)

“‘My dear sir, please tell me how I can be relieved from the reactions of my sinful life. Now I fully surrender unto you and fall down at your lotus feet. Please deliver me from sinful reactions.’”   (CC Madhya 24.254)

By associating with a saintly person like Narada Muni and taking his shelter, one is able to understand one’s constitutional position (sambandha), the activities one should perform in terms of that constitutional position (abhideya), and the goal of human life (prayojana). In case of Mrgari, he enquired more about his karmic duties (how to lead a sinless life and become free from sinful reactions) than the higher aspects of human life. This is fine; everyone makes enquiries according to his nature and position he is in.

It does not matter what kind of spiritual master we surrender to. He could be our diksa-guru or siksa-guru. The basic requirement is to hear sincerely and surrender unto Him. As Dhruva prabhu rightly said, “No matter what dilemma one may find him or herself in, the only solution is to hear from a self-realized spiritual master who has understood the truth and the supreme goal of life.”

With this process of whole-hearted surrender and submissive inquiries, we gradually attain love of Godhead.

By regular attendance in classes on the Bhāgavatam and by rendering of service to the pure devotee, all that is troublesome to the heart is almost completely destroyed, and loving service unto the Personality of Godhead, who is praised with transcendental songs, is established as an irrevocable fact. ” (SB 1.2.18)

All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

Core Message of Lord Caitanya’s explanation of Atmarama verse (CC Madhya Chapter 24)

Hare Krsna,

Perhaps this short explanation will help clarify the ātmārāma verse’s core message……

In Bg 2.59 Lord Krsna explains and principle we can apply here:

viṣayā vinivartante
nirāhārasya dehinaḥ
rasa-varjaṁ raso ’py asya
paraṁ dṛṣṭvā nivartate

“The embodied soul may be restricted from sense enjoyment, though the taste for sense objects remains. But, ceasing such engagements by experiencing a higher taste, he is fixed in consciousness.”

The words paraṁ dṛṣṭvā nivartate mean “experiencing a higher taste.” Thus, all living beings, as pleasure-seekers by nature, will gravitate to a circumstance that will enable them a “higher” or “more pleasurable” experience than they are presently engaged in if given the opportunity — and actually experience the “higher” enjoyment. In such circumstances, they will willingly give up the “lower” circumstance for the “higher.”

Lord Caitanya has presented many meanings of the word ātmārāma to show how ultimately all living things are enjoying whatever circumstances they are in…..but, when they come into contact with a devotee of the Lord who enlightens them about the “higher taste” available by rendering service to the Lord — because of His wonderful transcendental qualities —  then they willingly give up their previous enjoyment (sometimes termed “so-called enjoyment”), and take to devotional service which is, after all, the natural constitutional condition of everyone.

‘Those who are self-satisfied and unattracted by external material desires are also attracted to the loving service of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, whose qualities are transcendental and whose activities are wonderful. Hari, the Personality of Godhead, is called Kṛṣṇa because He has such transcendentally attractive features.’ (SB 1.7.10)

Source: Original post by Dhruva Maharaja Dasa

All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

The Sinful Activity of Animal Killing

Hare Krsna,

This topic of sinful activity of animal killing has been well discussed and documented. I don’t think I can add anything more. While meditating on this topic, I could think of the following points:

  1. By killing an animal (or any jiva), we are halting its spiritual progress. Just as we (human beings) are trying to come of our material existence and attain liberation from the cycle of birth and death, every jiva also has to follow the same path. It is only in human birth that we can enquire about God and practice voluntary devotional service to attain liberation. Similarly the lower species has to come to human platform to progress further. By killing them, we are robbing them of this opportunity. They have to take birth again in the same species to live out their karma.
  2. By killing an animal, we attain sinful reactions. These reactions pollute our consciousness, and as a result we have to take birth in lower species where practicing devotional service is impossible.
  3. When we kill the animals, we attain their subtle impressions (pain, anger, suffering, fear, etc.) at the time of their death. They end up contaminating our consciousness. When consciousness is polluted, we cannot become God-realized. Gradually this builds up and we reach a stage where we completely forget about God. To return to the pure uncontaminated stage is very difficult and could take lifetimes. One of the reasons we are eternally conditioned (nitya-baddhas) could be because of the sinful reactions of animal killing over many lifetimes. Therefore, killing animals affects our own spiritual growth more than anything else.
  4. Just like human beings, even animals are embodied spirit-souls. As such the human being who kills an animal must be held morally responsible for that death under the laws of God and nature, much as one would be for the death of a human being.
  5. By killing animals, we gradually attain their mental stage and fall into the darkest mode of ignorance. Haven’t we encountered so many people whose behavior, mentality and even their looks resemble those of animals?
  6. Lord Krsna says in BG 14.4 that all species of life are made possible by birth and that He is the seed-giving father. We all are His parts and parcels. To look at another perspective, since we all originate from the same Supreme Lord, we all are siblings in one way. Just like we wouldn’t kill our own brothers and sisters, how could we do so to the animals and lower species?
  7. Our goal should be to please the Lord. By killing animals, we will never be able to please Him and receive His mercy.
  8. Since we are on this topic, I want to share one picture that someone forwarded me some time ago. It shows how all scriptures of all religions teach the same concept of practicing non-violence and not harming animals.

Lastly we have observed that Sri Narada Muni did not stop the hunter from killing the animals – he just advised him to kill them completely and not leave them half-dead. (CC Madhya 24.244-247) Someone might be baffled as to why the most-merciful Narada Muni who is the well-wisher of all living entities would not advise the hunter to refrain from animal killing. I think the answer lies in Bhagavad Gita.

BG 3.5 – Everyone is forced to act helplessly according to the qualities he has acquired from the modes of material nature; therefore no one can refrain from doing something, not even for a moment.

Bg 3.26 — So as not to disrupt the minds of ignorant men attached to the fruitive results of prescribed duties, a learned person should not induce them to stop work. Rather, by working in the spirit of devotion, he should engage them in all sorts of activities [for the gradual development of Kṛṣṇa consciousness].

All glories to Srila Prabhupada!