Tag Archives: vedic culture

The Myth of population explosion


== Introduction ==
Most of us grew up on a poisonous diet of overpopulation propaganda. Remember the lifeboat scenarios in high school biology, where we had to decide who we were going to push overboard, lest we all die. Look up the speeches of former Vice President of USA Al Gore, who warned of an “environmental holocaust without precedent”–a “black hole” in his words–that will engulf us if we do not stop having babies.2 In this and a myriad of ways we have been force-fed–and most of us swallowed whole–the nasty theory that there were too many people, along with its even more terrible corollary that it is necessary to practice inhumanity in order to save humanity–or some worthy fraction thereof.

Everyone has read passages similar to the following, taken from James Coleman and Donald Cressey’s Social Problems, one of the standard social science textbooks from the nineties:

The world’s population is exploding. The number of men, women and children is now over 5 billion. … If the current rate of growth continues, the world’s population will double again in the next 40 years…the dangers of runaway population growth can be seen in historical perspective… It took all of human history until 1800 for the world’s population to reach 1 billon people. But the next … 1 billion was added in only 130 years (1800-1930), [the next billion] after that in 30 years (1930-1960), and the next in 15 years (1960-1975). The last billion people were added in only 12 years (1975-1987). If this trend (of runaway population growth) continues the world will be soon be adding a billion people a year, and eventually every month

But what if overpopulation is, as economist Jacqueline Kasun has remarked, a false dogma? What if the assorted population controllers, radical environmentalists, self-serving politicians, and others are wrong about our breeding ourselves off the face of the planet? From Ehrlich on, they have been peddling a worst-case scenario–times ten.

== Vedic Perspective ==
“According to the Vedas, population experts are wrong in their crucial assumption that earth cannot supply the needs of a large population. If people are God conscious, there is virtually no limit to the population the earth can comfortably support.”

One of the myths most strongly entrenched in the modern mind is that birth control is necessary because of the threat of overpopulation. But His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada the founder of ISKCON stated: “There is no scarcity for maintenance in the material world.” According to Srila Prabhupada, human society’s leadership “is disturbed about the food situation and, to cover up the real fact of administrative mismanagement, takes shelter in the plea that the population is excessively increasing” (Bhag. 3.5.5, purport).

The world is far from being overpopulated. A simple calculation shows that all five billion men, women, and children on earth could be placed within the 267,339 square miles of the state of Texas, with each person occupying about fifteen hundred square feet of space.

But what about food? A study by the University of California’s Division of Agricultural Science shows that by practicing the best agricultural methods now in use, the world’s farmers could raise enough food to provide an American style diet for ten times the present population. And if people would be satisfied with an equally nourishing but mostly vegetarian diet, we could feed thirty times the present population.

== Manage your resources ==
Studies of an African famine in the early 1970’srevealed that every country affected had within its borders the agricultural resources to feed its people. As Frances Moore Lappe points out in her well-researched book Food First, much of the best land was being misused for production of exportable cash crops.

Srila Prabhupada went on to say, “I have traveled to Africa, Australia, and America, and everywhere there is so much land vacant. If we use it to produce food grains, then we can feed ten times as much population as at the present moment. There is no question of scarcity. The whole creation is so made by Krishna that everything is purnam, complete.”

Food resources are also wasted by improper diets. During his lecture in Mauritius, Srila Prabhupada said, “I have seen in the Western countries that they are growing food grains for the animals, and the food grains are eaten by the animals, and the animal is eaten by the man…. What are the statistics? The animals are eating food grains, but the same amount of food grains can be eaten by so many men.”

Such statistics do exist. Government figures show that about ninety percent of the edible grains harvested in the United States are fed to animals that are later killed for meat. But for every sixteen pounds of grain fed to beef cattle, only one pound of meat is produced.

Srila Prabhupada concluded, “If there were one government on the surface of the earth to handle the distribution of grain, there would be no question of scarcity, no necessity to open slaughterhouses, and no need to present false theories about overpopulation” (Bhag. 4.17.25, purport).

== The Genesis of the theory ==
The first person to sound the overpopulation alarm was the English economist Malthus (1766-1834), who calculated that population tends to increase much faster than the earth’s limited food supply. New farmland, of which there is only so much, said Malthus, can be brought into production only slowly and with great labor and careful planning, whereas—because of the constant pressure of sex desire—people will have as many children as they are able, unless they are checked. Therefore the population is almost always pushing the limit of available food, and suffering results. Malthus summarized this with his maxim that food production increases arithmetically, while population increases geometrically.

“That population has this constant tendency to increase beyond the means of subsistence,” states Malthus “… will sufficiently appear from a review of the different states of society in which man has existed.” But according to the Vedic viewpoint, the earth can produce an almost unlimited amount of life’s necessities. Restriction occurs not from overpopulation but from some other cause, namely the self-destructive attitudes and actions of the planet’s population.

The science of ecology has awakened us to a greater appreciation of how different organisms and natural resources are linked in complex interdependency, and how easily this interdependency can be disturbed—as in the case of acid rain, for example. While doing research for NASA, scientist Jim Lovelock concluded that the “earth’s living matter, air, oceans, and land surface form a complex system which can be seen as a single organism and which has the capacity to keep our planet a fit place for life.” He calls his hypothesis the “Gaia principle,” after the Greek goddess of the earth.

=== The Earth can give more ===
Lovelock himself, adhering to the principles of materialistic science, does not believe in a personified earth deity. But he does point out, “The concept of Mother Earth, or, as the Greeks called her long ago, Gaia, has been widely held throughout history and has been the basis of a belief which still coexists with the great religions.” The Vedic scriptures clearly state that the earth is the visible form of the goddess Bhumi, who restricts or increases her production according to the population’s level of spiritual consciousness.

“Therefore,” states Srila Prabhupada, “although there may be a great increase in population on the surface of the earth, if the people are exactly in line with God consciousness and are not miscreants, such a burden on the earth is a source of pleasure for her” (Bhag. 3.3.14, purport).

So according to the Vedas, Malthus and later population experts are wrong in n their crucial assumption that earth cannot supply the needs of a large population. If people are God conscious, there is virtually no limit to the population the earth can comfortably support.

== Fallacy of Birth control programs ==
Nevertheless, Malthus did have some valuable points to make about population control. He believed that the best solution was voluntary restraint from marriage—without “vice,” by which he meant any kind. of illicit sex whatsoever. Malthus specifically opposed free sex, which relies on abortion and contraception for population control. The dangers Malthus warned of have come to pass. Divorce, teenage suicide, child abuse, sex crimes—all are on the rise. Neglected children from broken homes fill the courts. In the face of the dangers from herpes, AIDS, and other sexually transmitted diseases, many people—often out of fear for their lives—are limiting their promiscuity. In Africa, where in some countries promiscuity is rampant, far more people face death from AIDS than from starvation.

In his study of population in different parts of the world, Malthus took special note of India, where the process of moral restraint is recommended in the Vedic scriptures such as the Manu-samhita, the laws compiled by Manu, the forefather of mankind. Malthus noted, “In almost every part of the ordinances of Manu, sensuality of all kinds is strongly reprobated, and chastity inculcated as a religious duty.” Srila Prabhupada states, “We do not find in Vedic literatures that they ever used contraceptive methods…. The contraceptive method should be restraint in sex life…. If one is fortunate enough to have a good, conscientious wife, he can decide by mutual consultation that human life is meant for advancing in Krishna consciousness and not for begetting a large number of children” (Bhag. 4.27.6, purport).

Margaret Sanger (1879-1966), a principal organizer of the modern birth control movement, once visited Gandhi in India and tried to persuade him to support a birth control program for his country. “He agreed,” wrote Sanger, “that no more than three or four children should be born to a family, but insisted that intercourse, therefore, should be restricted for the entire married life of the couple to three or four occasions.”

Sanger and her followers had more success with people of other religious backgrounds. The wives of some American Episcopal bishops once asked Sanger to convince their husbands about the necessity for legalized birth control. Sanger complied, and soon thereafter the bishops reversed their previous opposition. Although most Protestant and Jewish denominations approve birth control, the Catholic Church continues to oppose it. Despite much opposition from the laity—and some clergymen as well—the pope has maintained that sex other than for conception is sinful. Nevertheless, the Church still allows sex during the socalled safe period, as well as after menopause and for sterile persons. That contradiction is not present in the Vedic society—non-procreative sex is against the Vedic principles.

Is reincarnation just a belief? According to the Vedas, it is a fact each of us must face. Even Western science has turned up evidence (in research into out- of-body experiences and memories of past lives) that strongly suggests there is a conscious part of us that survives the death experience. We return, the Vedas explain, to suffer the reactions to the activities we performed in our previous life.

Srila Prabhupada therefore warns, “Illicit sex creates pregnancies, and these unwanted pregnancies lead to abortion. Those involved become implicated in these sins, so much so that they are punished in the same way the nextlife. Thus in the next life they also enter the womb of a mother and are killed in the same way” (Bhag. 5.4.9, purport).

Because the soul is eternal, the soul denied birth by contraception and abortion does not die; he simply enters into another womb. Birth control is thus a total failure because it doesn’t prevent birth. It only brings suffering for everyone involved. To protect ourselves from the harsh reactions to illicit sex, the Vedic literature proposes sexual restraint.

== The Natural Way ==
Baron Dawson of Penn, the court physician of Edward VII and George V, who in a speech at a congress of the Anglican Church answered the proposition by the Anglican bishops that sexual activity should be restricted to that necessary for procreation. “Imagine a young married couple in love with each other,” said Dawson, “being expected to occupy the same room and to abstain for two years. The thing is preposterous. You might as well put water by the side of a man suffering from thirst and tell him not to drink it.” But what if, besides the waterpot, there were a pot of divine nectar? By drinking the nectar, the man could abstain from drinking the water and yet become relieved not only of his thirst but of all his suffering and experience a superior pleasure. In other words, if one experiences the superior pleasure of spiritual life, one can forego the lower pleasure of sex.

Because people have generally not experienced such higher pleasure, they must be attached to sexual pleasure, especially since we live in a culture where everyone is exposed to intense sexual propaganda. The Vedic civilization, however, strongly emphasizes [[Brahmacharya|brahmacarya]], or celibacy, and formerly every child was expected to spend the first twenty or so years of life as a celibate student of the spiritual science of God consciousness.

This celibacy was not, however, a denial of the individual’s innate desire for pleasure. Rather, giving up the lower pleasures of the sexual urge was merely a precondition for experiencing the higher, transcendental pleasures of the soul’s spiritual love for God, who is known as Krishna, the reservoir of all pleasure.

In an atmosphere of sexual license, pregnancy is often regarded as an unwanted by-product that greatly decreases the value of sexual pleasure. The remedy that Sanger and her followers favored was contraception, rather than abortion. Sanger felt that abortion is violent, whereas contraception is somehow different. But contraception is simply a less obvious act of violence. Most contraceptive methods work on the principle of making the womb uninhabitable, by physical or chemical means, for the fertilized egg. This is actually another type of murder, operating at an earlier stage than abortion, because even at this very early stage, according to the Vedas, the soul has already been introduced into the egg.

Other methods of contraception aim at stopping either the sperm or egg from reaching the point of conception. But whether the method involves obstruction or destruction, the result is the same. “Contraception deteriorates the womb so that it no longer is a good place for the soul,” warns Srila Prabhupada.

“That is against the order of God. By the order of God, a soul is sent to a particular womb, but by this contraceptive he is denied that womb and has to be placed in another. That is disobedience to the Supreme. For example, take a man who is supposed to live in a particular apartment. If the situation there is so disturbed that he cannot enter the apartment, then he is put at a great disadvantage. That is illegal interference and is punishable” (The Science of Self-Realization, pp. 49-50).

Such methods of birth control are now prominent all over the world. Reversing this situation is going to be a difficult battle, but important skirmishes are already being won. All around the world, thousands of married couples have adopted the Krishna conscious principle of voluntarily restraining from sex except for procreation, and many more thousands of single men and women have opted for total celibacy, either permanently or until they marry.

The Vedic system of birth control does not mean no sex and fewer people, but sex according to spiritual principles—and better people, be they few or many. In this regard, Malthus made a point worth noting: “I have never considered any possible increase of population as an evil, except as far as it might increase the proportion of vice and misery.” If the increasing population is of good character, there will naturally be a desirable decrease in vice and misery.

But how do we insure good population? According to the Vedas, the consciousness of the parents at the time of conception determines the quality of the child. Srila Prabhupada advises, “The birth of a human being is a great science, and therefore reformation of the act of impregnation according to the Vedic ritual called garbhadhana-samskara is very important for generating good population. The problem is not to check the growth of the population, but to generate good population…. So-called birth control is not only vicious but also useless” (Bhag. 3.5.19, purport).

Srila Prabhupada further states, “This material world is created to give the conditioned souls a chance … for going back home, back to Godhead, and therefore generation of the living being is necessary, … and as such one can even serve the Lord in the act of such sexual pleasure. The service is counted when the children born of such sexual pleasure are properly trained in God consciousness” (Bhag. 2.10.26, purport).

If the people are good, then no matter how numerous they are, they will be able to cooperate peacefully and, with the blessings of God, receive ample resources from Mother Earth. On the other hand, even a very limited population of bad character can make the planet into a hell. Selfish sex, aided by abortion, pills, condoms, and so on, is not going to make this world a happier place for anyone. People will continue in the cycle of birth and death, and the world will be a chaos of greed, anger, envy, and violence.

== References ==
# The Myth of Overpopulation by Drutakarma Dasa
#Steven Mosher’s book, Population Control—Real Costs, Illusory Benefits.
#[http://absolutetruth.in/forums/topic/why-is-the-human-population-ever-increasing Is the population really increasing?]
#[http://absolutetruth.in/2009/09/the-dangers-of-promiscuity/ Dangers of Promiscuity]

Compiled by [[Authors:Lndasa|LNDASA]]

Advertisements

The dangers of Promiscuity


==Introduction==
The [[wikipedia:Hedonism|hedonistic]] ideology of “Dont worry just enjoy” coupled with the artificial hype and eulogization of culture based on unrestricted sensuous indulgence has resulted in the widespread promiscuity which is destroying the very fabric of cultured life and is the cause of a number of concomitant social problems such as infidelity, divorce, depression, suicide, degradation of values both at individual level and society as a whole.

In the name of “celebrating life”, now we are living like animals, impulsively pursuing the raw gut feeling for satisfying the senses without any consideration of the disastrous consequences of such irresponsible behavior. Succumbing to various influences ranging from propaganda by media (cinemas, magazines), imitation and hero worship of “celebrities” etc, people are indulging in extra-marital affairs, homosex and all sorts of illicit activities. And the “secular” government’s is over enthusiastic to legalize the practices such as homosex, “live in” relationships that were unheard in India, the abode of culture. Wasn’t that really an ”icing on the cake”?

In actuality the poor people who boast themselves of being the enjoyers of their free-will little do they know that they are as a matter of fact becoming victims of their own uncontrolled mind and senses which are dragging them down to hellish life both in the present life and the next.

==Sex Fascination – The disease of the modern age==
Sex is the overwhelming obsession of the modern society. Sexual promiscuity is so unrelentingly stressed that anyone who does not appear to be highly interested in it is considered to be a crank. Social pressure induces people to try to maintain juvenile lustiness long after the sensual high of youth has subsided. Thus millions of people remain emotionally immature all their lives. It is a sick world.

===Media’s contribution ===
In the name of entertainment and marketing, media exploits the people’s sexual cravings, making a business out of it. The advertising industry in particular churns out the unending pictures of half or almost undressed women – in magazines, on billboards, on television, on internet – always and everywhere. Not wanting to be left behind, now even the daily newspapers are competing with porn magazines. Despite grossly exploiting the bodies of women and the basest impulses of men, solely for the sake of making some already over-rich people even richer, their activities continues for the most part unquestioned. The general public absorbs their propaganda and remains ever steeped in lust, having no knowledge of the necessity to resist. Thus advertisements oozing with sexual overtones allure the willingly gullible public to mindlessly purchase everything from back-scrubbers to brandy. And the consumer society rolls on, its members forever sexually jacked-up.

The power of the media to mold people’s attitudes and behavior is a pathetic but who cares. Even if an average person’s mind would not have been absorbed in sexual thoughts, the media makes sure he does.

== Chastity – The secret of good health ==
The body’s vital fluid is a precious substance containing the life force of humans. After Dhanvantari ”the incarnation of Vishnu” had taught all the details about Ayurveda to his disciples, they enquired about the keynote of this medical science. The Master replied, “I tell you that brahmacharya is truly a precious jewel. It is the one most effective medicine-nectar indeed which destroys diseases, decay and death. For attaining peace, brightness, memory, knowledge, health and Self-realisation, one should observe brahmacharya which is the highest dharma. Brahmacharya is the highest knowledge. Brahmacharya is the greatest strength. Of the nature of brahmacharya is verily this Atma and in brahmacharya It resides. Saluting brahmacharya first, the cases beyond cure, I cure. Aye, brahmacharya can undo all the inauspicious signs.”

Practice of [[Brahmacharya|brahmacharya]] gives good health, inner strength, peace of mind and long life. It invigorates the mind and the nerves. It helps to conserve physical and mental energy. It augments memory, will force and brainpower. It bestows tremendous strength, vigour and vitality. Strength and fortitude are obtained.

According to Ayurveda the vital fluid retained in the body goes upwards to nourish the brain, rendering the body robust and the memory and intellect sharp. Determination, optimism, confidence, will power, fixed intelligence, noble character, photographic memory, and shining good health are all the fruits of conserved semen. According to Ayurveda, the retained vital fluiddevelops ojas, a vital fluid that gives strength, luster, enhanced mental abilities and immunity to diseases and slows the aging process.

Scientists have analyzed semen the vital fluid to be amazingly rich in hormones, proteins, vitamins, minerals, ions, enzymes, trace elements and other vital substances. If retained within the body, it nourishes the body and brain in a way impossible for any tonic or dietary aid to emulate. The current craze for vitamin and mineral supplements is an attempt to make up for the self-imposed deficiencies. [http://absolutetruth.in/docs/Continence.pdf More] on Scientific reasearch on value of Continence. This is equally true to both the genders.

==The Ill effects of promiscuity==
Retention of vital fluid is so essential in progressive human life that it is simply astounding how the whole endeavor of modern civilization is based on discharging it as much as possible.

# Degradation of moral values in society. Leads to adultery, debauchery etc.
# Increase in divorce rate due to infidelity and domestic unrest.
# Excessive loss of vital fluid leads to all sorts of diseases as the vital fluid nourishing the body and mind is drained out.
# Such irresponsible behavior sets a bad example for the next generation and the trend follows. Imagine the disastrous impact an obscene billboard make on the minds of children.

== How a cultured civilization addresses the conjugal needs of humans==
Human life is a rare opportunity given to the living entity which one attains after transmigrating through 8,400,000 species of life. The holy scriptures, therefore advises the humans to make optimum use of this rare opportunity to reach the destination of life – salvation or liberation from material existence. Just as a vehicle is used to reach a destination, we must use the vehicle of human body to achieve the ultimate goal of life mentioned above (salvation).

Nevertheless, the scriptures prescribes regulated sex life for the purpose of pro-creation. A cultured human civilization facilitates the physical needs of humans through the institution of marriage. In vedic terminology such a person who is regulted is called Grhasta or one who lives in family life with a wife for the purpose of advancing in spiritual life. Such a Grhasta may unite with his wife for the purpose of procreation. And bringing up responsible children in dharma. Such a regulated life is [http://vedabase.net/bg/7/11 dharma] according to Bhagavad Gita.

The person who doesn’t subscribe to this view is called Grhamedhi. The grihastha makes gradually advances towards the goal of life while the grihamedhi remains perpetually in the cycle of birth and death due to his attachment to body and sense satisfaction.

==Conclusion – Think higher and feel the real bliss of life==
The greatest happiness for the self starts with complete freedom: freedom from misery, unhappiness and all sorts of suffering.
How can we become happy when we are slaves of the dictates of the demands of the mind and senses? Human life is not meant to be led like the animals whose intelligence cannot go beyond eating, sleeping, defending and mating but to search out and attain the Absolute truth. In actuality we are spirit souls and so neither male or female, which are our temporal bodily situations.

The real way to real happiness is to see and think beyond the momentary and short lived pleasure of the body and mind. Let us look inwards, introspect and discover the bliss of the eternal spirit in its pure association with the supreme.

== Suggested References ==
# Brahmacharya by H.H.Bhakti Vikasa Swami

Written by [[Authors#Madhur_Gauranga_Das|Chandrasekar Gani]].

Esteem for Sacred Writings


== Contemproary view ==
It is fashionable in modern secular societies to regard sacred literature as the mythological musings of undeveloped people. Schools teach that with our current understanding of physics, medicine, psychology, democracy, and so on, we have little use for such writings except as literary art. Those who take scripture literally are pegged with pejorative terms such as fundamentalists.” It may be stylish to borrow ideas from the Vedic scriptures—yoga, meditation, mantra chanting. But living by the laws of scripture is seen as outmoded and simplistic.

To get the spiritual benefit of chanting Krishna’s names, however, requires a reverence for Krishna in all His forms, including His scriptures. Krishna appeared on earth in His original form about five thousand years ago. After He departed to His eternal abode, His “literary incarnation,” Vyasadeva, compiled the cream of Vedic scripture, Srimad-Bhagavatam. Srila Prabhupada wrote that reading this scripture is identical to seeing Krishna in person. Because the words of the Bhagavatam describe Krishna, they are spiritually identical to Him. If we blaspheme the Bhagavatam, other Vedic books, or literature in pursuance of the Vedic version, we offend the holy name, greatly impeding our progress in chanting.

What do we mean by “Vedic literature”? Unlike modern scholars, Srila Prabhupada did not use the term Vedic to denote only a particular period in the history of India. Following the previous spiritual masters in his line, he justifiably used the term to apply to all the traditional sacred books of India. And “literature in pursuance of the Vedic version” refers to any books that, like the Vedas, direct us toward a proper understanding of our relationship with God.

We avoid this offense against Krishna’s holy name if we accept the concept of scripture in general, revere authentic scriptures of traditions other than our own, respect but avoid scriptures that teach valid yet lesser religious practice, and reject pseudo scripture that opposes love of God.

We also avoid this offense by worshiping Krishna with our intelligence through careful study and application of sacred literature. Such study infuses us with both eagerness and direction for attaining devotional service to the Lord. We take our happiness from exploring each aspect of the Vedic scriptures we read. And we scrupulously adhere to the obvious meanings and applications consistent with both the texts as a whole and the examples of liberated souls.

== A Culture of Enlightenment ==
One reason people reject the very concept of sacred writing is that the word scripture to them conjures up the ghosts of societies that forbade smiling on the Sabbath, or declared that the way to perfection was a system of intricate ritualistic procedures that few could perform and even fewer understand. Besides, scriptures contain fantastic stories of miracles and supernatural happenings that modern science claims it discredited long ago. And aren’t scriptures the product of imperfect persons?

The reality is that when correctly understood and applied, genuine scripture acts like a guidebook and instruction manual for human life and the cosmos. It is the procedure brochure for the enterprise of the material creation. From scripture, coupled with oral tradition, we learn of methods of spiritual elevation, including the chanting of the holy name. From scripture we learn of the lives of past saints, sages, and incarnations of Krishna. In fact, the stories of scripture, whether in written or oral form, are the basis for the transmission and foundation of a culture of enlightenment.

== Making Sense of the Fantastic ==
Certainly it is true that many stories in sacred writings seem fantastic to our scientific world. But many current technological wonders seemed fictional and implausible only a few decades ago. It is not, therefore, implausible that former societies could have had abilities and expertise unavailable today. For example, ancient architecture in Peru is virtually impossible to re-create using modern methods. The view that technology has always progressed and could never have been greater than it is today may be inaccurate. Indeed, even recent history indicates that much knowledge existed in ancient Greece, was lost to Europe in the Middle Ages, and then gradually resurfaced. It is reasonable and logical, then, to assume that what is commonplace today, such as television and the Internet, may be lost and forgotten in the future, only to resurface later.

Additionally, even today there is much strong empirical evidence for the existence of the supernatural. But because current science can’t explain the evidence, it is usually suppressed.

Also, the Vedas—with their information about spirit and subtle matter—provide a world view that makes the seemingly impossible easy to accept. For example, once you understand that spirit, or life, is independent of matter, it’s easy to believe that living beings can live anywhere in the universe and do all kinds of amazing things.

== Levels of Instruction ==

A valid complaint about scripture for the spiritually minded is that much of it focuses on ritual and material gain. Krishna validates that sentiment when He tells His friend Arjuna that those who have practiced yoga in previous lives are above most scriptural rituals. The sad truth, however, is that few people are interested in genuine spiritual realization. Therefore, Krishna and His great devotees give instructions and examples in scripture for all types of people. There are different scriptures for various classes of people with diverse inclinations and desires. And there may be various levels and kinds of instruction in the same scriptural canon.

Sometimes the Lord, His agent, or His son may teach eternal truths at a lower level or in an obscured way according to time, place, or circumstance. Scriptures that arise from such teachings may teach less than pure, unmotivated devotion to the Lord, but they serve the function of gradually bringing people to the pinnacle of realization. Knowing that perfection is generally achieved over many lifetimes, one absorbed in chanting the mantra of the ultimate truth supports and encourages those at various levels.

Bona fide scripture, by definition, comes directly from God or from souls liberated from the imperfections and cheating of common persons. The unadulterated truth can flow through a person free from selfish desires and linked with God, just as the view of the world outside can pass through a clear window.

== A Role for Discrimination ==

Still, one shouldn’t accept just any writing as sacred simply because it claims to be so. Part of the offense of blaspheming scripture is to accept a philosophy contrary to serving the personal form of the Lord with devotion. Also, if a “religious” system claims that other genuine methods and scriptures are sinful, it should be abandoned as small-minded sectarianism. In addition, we should reject any system or philosophy that denies the soul, the Personality of Godhead, the process of developing love for God, or the goal of individual loving union with Him. Therefore, chanting Hare Krishna while holding a monistic attitude—thinking that the ultimate reality is simply energy and light—is part of this offense to the holy name.

A devotee of Krishna should depend only on traditions that expound bhakti—loving devotion to the person Krishna. Offering respect from a distance, one should avoid scripture that promotes yogic powers, good works for heavenly rewards, or salvation devoid of bhakti, what to speak of lower forms of worship aimed at power gained through propitiating ghostly or demonic beings.

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s Harinama Cintamani lists nine essential principles of krishna-bhakti. We can identify bhakti scriptures as those that promote these nine principles:

(1) There is one Supreme Lord, Krishna. (2) He is the possessor of all energies. (3) Krishna is the fountainhead of transcendental relationships and is situated in His own spiritual world, where He eternally gives joy to all living beings. (4) Living beings are particles of the Lord, unlimited in number, infinitesimal in size, and conscious. (5) Some living beings have been bound in material universes from time beyond memory, attracted by illusory pleasure. (6) Some living beings are eternally liberated and engaged in worshiping Krishna; they reside with Him as associates in the spiritual sky and experience love for Him. (7) Krishna exists with His energies—material, spiritual, and the living beings—in a state of simultaneous identity and differentiation, permeating all yet remaining aloof. (8) The process for the living being to realize Krishna is nine-fold: hearing about Krishna, chanting, remembering, serving, worshiping, praying, acting as a servant, being the Lord’s friend, and surrendering everything. (9) The ultimate goal of a living being is pure bhakti—unmotivated love for Krishna, which Krishna awakens in a soul out of His mercy.

If one follows the most pure scriptures, rejects assorted worldly traditions masquerading as sacred, and respects genuine scripture that’s at a lower level, there still must be care in scriptural study. Even an eternal tradition of untainted written or oral revelation can become skewed through imaginative interpretation and usage. To respect scripture, we understand it using the most clear and direct meaning possible, studying the practical precedents of past and present pure devotees of Krishna. We also approach scripture through the direction of a guru, who gives specific guidance for what is relevant to our present circumstance. Misinterpretation or misapplication of scripture can be more dangerous than denying it altogether. A wolf disguised as a sheep is far more dangerous than an obvious wolf.

== We Need Scripture ==

With so many considerations and confusions about scripture, wouldn’t it be better to simply chant Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, and forget scripture completely? It is true that chanting alone can bring us to perfection. But it must be offenseless chanting, which requires a reverential attitude toward genuine sacred writings.

Oh, but how much pleasure and solace there is in scripture! We can gain much joy and confidence from reading the Bhagavad-gita, the words of Krishna Himself. And we can find similar succor in works of contemporary writers—devotees who take the principles Krishna elucidated and apply them to familiar situations.

Of course, relish and delight are not our only motives for reading sacred writings. We need scripture. To ascertain truth without scripture, we have little choice but to rely on our own sensual and mental faculties and those of others. These alone can give us only partial, relative knowledge. Our senses are imperfect, even when enhanced with sophisticated instruments. We make mistakes from habit, carelessness, or unconscious bias. We tend to cheat—even to cheat ourselves. And when we identify the body as the self, we are living in a general illusion. Therefore, axiomatic truths—the starting point for logical and sensory conclusions—must come from a source free of defects if we want to base our actions on perfect knowledge.

When our foundational knowledge comes from the Absolute Truth, then chanting Krishna’s holy name will quickly propel us on the path to Him. Hearing from scripture about the beauty of Krishna’s form and the superb activities of the spiritual world will inspire us to chant with intense desire for His loving service. Pleased with our desire, Krishna will cleanse us with a downpour of His mercy, and our progress will be swift indeed.

By Urmila Devi Dasi

Are Vedic festivals just holidays?

== Vedic Festivals have a Purpose ==

=== Another fun holiday ===
The festive bonfire; the smearing of dyes; the spraying of colored water; the joyful faces of all these memories flash through any Indian mind, when reminded of Holi, one of the most important of all Indian festivals. Indeed,festivals are an integral and endearing part of Indian culture. They break the monotony of life, bring everyone together in joyful reunion and strengthen bonds of affection in the community. In traditional Vedic culture, festivals served another important purpose, a purpose that has been all but forgotten nowadays. Festivals were primarily meant to bring humanity closer to divinity; they served as occasions for people to put aside their worldly preoccupations and focus on the Lord and His glorious deeds. Without knowing this spiritual purpose, people nowadays get external fun through festivals and miss the internal enrichment that they offer.

=== History of Holi ===
The festival of Holi, celebrated on the last day of the bright fortnight
of the month of Phalgun, offers an excellent opportunity to regain what we have missed for long. Let’s start with the bonfire.

==== Bonfire ====
The history of the bonfire dates back to millennia, when the demon king, Hiranyakashipu ruled and terrorized the universe, considered God, Vishnu, and His devotees to be his arch enemy. When the demon saw that his own son, Prahlada, had become devotee of Vishnu, he decided to kill Prahlada. But Lord Vishnu protected Prahlada during all the assassination attempts. In despair, Hiranyakashipu ordered his sister, Holika, who had been blessed with immunity from fire,to take Prahlada into fire and burn him to death. She complied, but the result was the opposite of what the demon had hoped. Prahlada came out of the fire,unscathed, being protected by Lord Vishnu, whereas Holika was reduced to ashes; she had overlooked the fact that her blessing guaranteed protection from fire only when she entered it alone. The burning of Holika is commemorated by the bonfire and by the name ”Holi”. The significance of this historical narrative is immense. Prahlada signifies our godly, serving, selfless nature; Holika, the ungodly, exploitative,selfish tendency that covers our original nature. When gold is placed in fire, the impurities melt away and the purified gold emerges, shining brighter. Similarly,the purifying Holi bonfire signifies the burning away of our superficial, lower tendency and the re-emergence of our essential, higher nature.When our pure nature re-emerges, we realize our identity as spiritual beings, as souls, who are sac-cid-ananda, eternal, enlightened and ecstatic.Realizing our identity as the beloved children of the infallible Lord, we become free from fear and full of joy.This enriching realization does not come just by lighting a fire. Prahlada emerged triumphant from the fire by dint of his unflinching devotion to the Lord. Similarly, we will emerge successful through all the fire-like trials and tribulations of life by developing unflinching devotion. Just as Prahlada developed devotion by learning chanting of the Lord’s holy names from his devotee-guru Narada Muni, we too can develop devotion by learning chanting from a contemporary devotee-guru.

==== The Festival of colors ====
Rangapanchami, generally celebrated the day after Holi,also has deep spiritual significance. Lord Sri Krishna originally celebrated this festival with His supreme devotees, the gopis, the cowherd damsels of Vrindavana. During a loving exchange, Krishna and the gopis spontaneously smeared each other with dyes and sprayed colored water on each other. This affectionate reciprocation is not at all like ordinary boy-girl affairs.Because Krishna is not an ordinary boy; He is the Supreme Godhead playing the role of a youth to perform lila (divine play) with His devotees. And the gopis are not ordinary girls; they are highly evolved yogis who had performed great austerities in their past lives to have the opportunity for an intimate relationship with God. Due to the superlatively scared nature of these lilas, these lilas are never to be imitated. Traditionally, devotees used to celebrate Holi by smearing and spraying the deity forms of Radha-Krishna with dyes and colored water. Then, devotees would respectfully accept the remnants of those colors as prasada (mercy) and gracefully smear and spray them on each other. Unfortunately, with the passage of time, the God-centered essence of the festival was forgotten. Consequently, a pure, spiritually-uplifting festival has now sadly become an occasion for sensuous, even licentious, revelry. But the glory of our culture is still there for us to reclaim if we imbibe the profound significance of our cultural festivals.

== Durga Puja ==
Here is another one on [[Hindu_Festivals#Durga_Puja|Durga Puja]]

Chaitanya Charana Dasa.