A letter to the editor of Concordia University’s Link newspaper
It is a great disappointment for us that you will not be able to find place in your Link newspaper for our little interview. You have stated that the reason for this is that your newspaper although trying to propagate equality, tolerance and while trying to give voice to the voiceless does not endorse a religion and being secular you do not wish to publish anything related to the Hare Krishna philosophy or their followers at the moment.Of course, i can understand that perhaps you're too busy for a deeper philosophical discussion on this with an insignificant person as my humble self, but i think it would be proper from my side to at least try to clarify the matter, on behalf of the Hare Krishna movement, which I represent.
The Hare Krishna movement as founded by His Divine Grace A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada is an educational movement for revival of our eternal occupational position. The Vedic literatures, which are the most ancient and most voluminous writings on the science of consciousness known to man, describe this eternal position of every living entity as sanatana dharma. When we speak of sanatana dharma of every living entity, we speak of characteristic which is non-sectarian and changeless. The English dictionary however defines the word "religion" as a "sort of belief". The primal characteristic of belief is that it is however,quite to the contrary, subjected to change. It is our experience that people take up a certain sectarian religion, then reject it and take up a different sectarian religion. In this way one who was formerly a Christian can become a Muslim, then Buddhist or Hindu and this is fine. When we speak of sanatana dharma however it cannot be given up under any circumstances. Just like no one can take the liquidity from water, neither the pungency from a chilli, similarly one cannot take away sanatana-dharma from a living entity. And what is that sanatana dharma? It is service. We have to serve someone. If it's not boss at work, then it is teacher in school, or even a girl-friend or boyfriend, or at least our bodily demands. To say I do not serve anyone is nonsensical. By serving in this world, the living entity enjoys. One can claim to be a Christian or Muslim and change his religious designations as many times as he likes, but his position of rendering service is eternally present with him. So any intelligent person without prejudice must admit that this is not a question of belief or faith, but actually that the sanatana dharma is a universal fact applicable to religious people as well as to non-religious. The perfection of this service propensity can be attained if it is used in relation with the Supreme Absolute Whole Krsna or God. The Supreme Absolute Whole, in the same manner as with sanatana dharma, cannot be subjected to our sectarian religious point of view. The Supreme Absolute Whole must include everything what is within our experience and everything that it beyond our experience. One who is trying to subject the Whole into sectarian denominations does not actually understand the nature of the Whole being indivisible and must be doing it with the motive to dominate the Whole. THE LINK between the sections and the Whole is however that the sections are always subordinate to the Whole and never contrary. The whole can never be a part and a part can never be a whole. This is just plain logic. Therefore unless we serve the Whole, all our service must be frustrated, because it is illusory. If we water all the branches and leaves of a tree, but neglect the root, the whole tree will dry out. Similarly all our endeavor for equality must remain on a limited bodily level unless it is centered around the Supreme Absolute Whole. Unless we scientifically take up the study of this Absolute Whole, we have to remain divided in different sectarian viewpoints of equality, sectarian viewpoints of tolerance etc. I'm using the "sectarian" word on purpose because it very nicely illustrates how without understanding the Whole, we are keeping ourselves confided to only "sections" of the whole and yet fighting one another about supremacy over who is the most equality-like, which is absurd.
Our movement is open to all types of religionsts, scientists, educationists and intelligencia of the world because our movement deals exclusively with the subject matter of the Absolute Whole. We understand that by simply accepting the Absolute Whole, all its sections are included. This is the true platform of equality as opposed to the sectarian “my way is the only way and if you don’t like it skate off”. Similarly the sanskrt word Krsna is absolutely non-sectarian. Krsna means all-attractive and if we understand the nature of the Absolute Whole being all-inclusive, then we must accept that it must be attractive to everyone and therefore KRSNA.
As you have admitted yourself in our conversation, ultimately the decision about what is religion and what is not depends fully on the personal taste of the editors in charge. And I can fully empathize with your difficulty to give any specific definition of what religion means. If religion means a belief, we all have some sort of belief. If it's not God, then it's someone famous on TV, or our mother, father, at least we have to admit that we trust our senses. If you did not believe in your sight, why would you read this, see what i mean?
The real question therefore is not whether someone believes or not, but whether his belief is justified on the basis of knowledge. In other words, we have to sit down and scientifically discriminate amongst the various beliefs on the merit of what they propose. Does this make sense or not? Is this logical? How can I explain my belief to someone who does not share the same belief as I do? This is called human culture. We cannot make that same animalistic mistake again of judging one's argument on the basis of his skin, sexual orientation, nationality, political affiliation or religious denomination. This will be a great defeat of freedom and I think your newspaper should not degrade itself in this way. There are innumerable examples in the history of the world of different kinds of elite section groups who in the name of empty-sounding ideals imposed their personal "taste" on the masses without actually caring for the interests of the masses themselves. Was that the principle upon which your paper has been created? I do not think so.
I have personal experience, first being a former Concordia student myself and second by talking to thousands of students over the years while preaching around the campus that many theories although lacking a substantial body of evidence are presented to students not as a mere belief, or opinions of someone to think about, but as scientific facts which the students are supposed to learn and know as part of their courses. If one should discriminate against our movement under the plea of it being a "religion", why not then discriminate against the really nonsensical "religions" claiming that life comes from matter, creation came from big bang, men is coming from monkey or that vegetarian diet is unnatural?
i therefore would humble like to propose that you study our movement more thoroughly and understand its significance in terms of brining solution to the present context of our sectarian world and reconsider your decision not to publish the article.
hope this meets you well
purujit dasa (hare krsna center montreal)