How A Muslim Came To Krishna
MINGLING OF TWO OCEANS- HINDUISM AND ISLAM
Islam and Vegetarianism
Understanding Islam and Krishna consciousness
All faiths agree that He is the One True God, being free from all material imperfections, limitations and or short-comings. He is the Supreme Being full in all spiritual attributes, and is totally complete in every way. He is the One Supreme Being without any equal (Quaran 24:55. Sri Ishopanishad mantra 1.)
When we keep to these statements most everyone will agree. However, when we begin to look at the miraculous things that He has done in a myriad of places, with different devotees, at different times, suddenly there are some objections. Those persons begin to put limitations upon Him saying He can't do this, cannot appear there, or cannot be like this or that. Factually, this is our putting material confines on what we think God should be or is like. He can do whatever He wants to do, or be.
One thing that dearly needs to be made clear is that He, the Lord, His Divine Name(s), teachings, places of His pastimes etc., are all of His nature and enterage, they are as worshippable as He being in relation to Him, they are not different from Him and are His.
Ali, upon whom be peace, the Commander of the Faithful, says in the first sermon of the Nahj al-balaghah, "The beginning of religion is the knowledge of the pure divine essence, and the perfection of such knowledge lies in faith in that sacred being. Perfect belief, in turn, lies in sincere devotion at His threshold, and perfect devotion is none other than the dissociation of that Unique Principle from all the attributes of contingent beings.
"Beware, for He cannot be described with any mundane attribute, for then difference would appear between the name and the attribute. Whoever attempts to describe Him with an attribute is, in effect, creating a like and a partner for Him, or rather he is seeing God to be two. Whoever sees God to be two is attempting to divide His being. Such a person lacks all knowledge and insight into the nature of God's unique being and is blind and ignorant.
"The one who is thus deprived of vision will attempt to point to God (i.e., restrict Him to a given time and place), and whoever does this posits imprisoning limits for the Creator of all being and makes Him finite. Whoever limits and restricts Him in this way regards Him as a measurable quantity. Whoever asks: "Where is God?" unintentionally makes of Him a body enclosed within another body, and whoever asks, "In what is God engaged?" unintentionally states that certain places are empty of His being."
As one friend aske me, "Where is God?" "Where is He not?" was my reply.
The point is we have to understand that His Name and spiritual attributes are different from those of this temporal world, of dualities, frailties etc. So we can point out that there are attributes, but they are not mundane limited attributes rather they are spiritual attributes which are full of His potency.
This is important for all to understand so that each can understand that each of His attribute(s) is in itself infinite and co-extensive with the infinitude of the essence. God is free of and exempt from finite attributes that might be distinct from each other and separate from the essence.
There is a vast difference in seeing God or God's hand in the world and seeing many Gods. The analogy can be used of that of a King. The King and the power of the King are the same, the power eminates from him. So similarly When God appears or when His power is shown, or when He empowers a great prophet or saint His presence can be tangibly appreciated.
The difference is when someone tries to claim something which is false. Such as a minister in the King's government, if he tries to claim something of the King's as his own or for himself then he's punishable. When the minister admits that he's the humble servant of the King and is genuinely doing the King's work without deviation then who will not offer respects. We do not offer respects to a cheater, and we do not offer our respects to the minister for himself. But as the representative of the King we offer respects.
This same understanding should be there in the Vedik schools of theology also. The various devas - demigods, empowered beings are exactly that. They have been entrusted, empowered to perform ministerial duties in the Kingdom of the Supreme God, and for that we offer them all respect. Without that service, they are neither empowered nor worthy of such respect.
No Independent Existence:
Just as if one looks at a coconut and asks about each of the elemts thereof; what is this - pointing to the outter husk, it's coconut husk. Breaking that open and revealing the coconut kernal within, we so call it 'coconut kernal'. When that is broken too, it reveals coconut meat and coconut milk. All of them are in relation to coconut, and without coconut they have no independent existence. So in the same way the beings of this world have no independent existence without the Supreme Being, God. He is the One Independent Being (Swatantra), everyone and everything else in creation, all the living entities, even the saints, prophets, sages, rishes, even the demons, as well as all material elements are all reliant on Him for their/our existence, therefore all that is Aswatantra - or dependent upon Him.
In one sense everything is part of Him, but at the same time everything by His expanding potency appears outside of Him too. It is one with Him yet inconceivably different too. When He appears He does so as He wants, and uses the material elements and saintly associates of His entourage (parishad) to uphold relgious principles and destroy the evils of the world that afflict His interests.
Looking at the chart He has a whole realm to choose from to appear through, and does. He is completely Independent in how the creation is created and maintained under His direction. He as the Supreme Being appoints His representatives to serve universal affairs on His behalf, but He always remains totally independent, and they dependent upon Him in every regard. There's no question of there being an equal or partner or something other than the Original Supreme Absolute Being - God. This is echoed throughout the Vedik scriptures.
om pürnam adah pürnam idam
pürnät pürnam udacyate
pürnasya pürnam ädäya
“The Personality of Godhead is perfect and complete, and because He is completely perfect, all emanations from Him, such as this phenomenal world, are perfectly equipped as complete wholes. Whatever is produced of the complete whole is also complete in itself. Because He is the complete whole, even though so many complete units emanate from Him, He remains the complete balance.”
The Supreme Lord, the Absolute Truth, is pürna, or complete in Himself. And since this cosmic world is a manifestation of His potency, it also appears to be pürna. In other words, because this material world is an emanation from the Supreme Lord, it is nondifferent from Him, exactly as the sun’s rays are nondifferent from the sun globe, which is the source of their emanation. Similarly the living beings, who are expansions of the superior, or conscious, energy of the Supreme Lord, are also nondifferent from Him, although this nondifference is qualitative and not quantitative. The gold found in golden ornaments such as rings and bracelets is qualitatively identical with the gold in a mine, but the gold in the mine is quantitatively far superior to the tiny quantity of gold in a bracelet or ring. Similarly, although we are qualitatively one with God, being spiritual emanations of His unlimited potency, we are quantitatively infinitesimal and eternally subordinate to His supreme power. Therefore the Lord is called vibhu, or infinitely potent, and we are anu, or infinitesimal and dependent.
This is further confirmed in the Vedik literature by the statement nityo
nityänäm chetanash chetanänäm eko bahünäm
yo vidadhäti kämän (Katha Upaniñad 2:2:13). There
are innumerable eternal living entities who are eternally and totally dependent
upon the supreme singular living entity, the Supreme Lord. That dependence
is not an illusion created by material existence, as stated by the impersonalist
philosophers, but is an eternal relationship in which the Lord is eternally
superior and we are eternally inferior. The Lord is eternally independent,
and we are eternally dependent. The Lord is eternally absolute in Himself,
and we are eternally relative to His supreme personality.
Although the Lord is infinitely greater than any other living being, or than all of them combined, every living being is qualitatively nondifferent from the Lord (as in the example of the gold), because all living beings are parts and parcels emanating from Him (mamaivämsho jiva-loke jiva-bhütah sanätanah [Bhagavad Gita. 15:7].).
nätah param parama yad bhavatah svarüpam
änanda-mätram avikalpam aviddha-varcah
pashyämi vishva-srijam ekam avishvam ätman
bhütendriyätmaka-madas ta upäshrito ’smi
na—do not; atah param—hereafter; parama—O Supreme; yat—that which; bhavatah—of Your Lordship; svarüpam—eternal form; änanda-mätram—impersonal Brahman effulgence; avikalpam—without changes; aviddha-varcah—without deterioration of potency; pashyämi—do I see; vishva-srijam—creator of the cosmic manifestation; ekam—one without a second; avishvam—and yet not of matter; ätman—O Supreme Cause; bhüta—body; indriya—senses; ätmaka—on such identification; madah—pride; te—unto You; upäshritah—surrendered; asmi—I am.
O my Lord, I do not see a form superior to Your present form of eternal bliss and knowledge. In Your impersonal Brahman effulgence in the spiritual sky, there is no occasional change and no deterioration of internal potency. I surrender unto You because whereas I am proud of my material body and senses, Your Lordship is the cause of the cosmic manifestation and yet You are untouched by matter.
PURPORT extract by HDG Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad.
As stated in Bhagavad Gitä (18:55), bhaktyä mäm abhijänäti yävän yash chäsmi tattvatah: the Supreme Personality of Godhead can only be partially known, and only by the process of devotional service to the Lord.
The Quran says: "Ask them, 'Show me these partners whom you worship in place of God. Have they created anything from earth or have they shared with God in the creation of the heavens ? Have we given them a book on which they rely in their ascription of partners to us?' No, the wrongdoers deceive each other with their false promises. Certainly it is God Who preserves the heavens and the earth from collapse and annihilation; were they about to collapse and be annihilated, there is none other who could preserve them. Know that God is most forbearing and forgiving." (35:40-41)
But at the same time, not subjecting Him to our mundane limitations, if He so wants to appear before us, then who are we to say He cannot. We may not understand, that is another thing, still that doesn't mean He cannot do whatever He wants, when He wants and to whomb He wants, or interact with whoever He wants according to His own sweet plan.
To Moses He appeared in the Form of a burning bush, again to Moses the mighty hand of the Lord was seen in action separating the waters of the Red sea, the sound of God that Moses heard upon the Mount when receiving the Ten Commandments, the Lord also appeared in the Form of sound to Mohammed in the cave giving him Divine instruction, and so on.
These are all Personal Attributes of the Supreme Absolute Lord.
Islam teaches that there are 99 names for the one God. Why? Because God is Supreme, He is unknowable: Bigger than that, more than that. It is hard to put a frame around the Divine.
So the 99 names are reminders of God's aspects or attributes: the Merciful, the Compassionate, the Truth, the Light, the First, the Last, the Unfathomable, the Exalter, the Abaser, the Creator. The hope is that by remembering God's names -- an act known as dhikr in Arabic -- Muslims will look at the world and witness the divine in every thing and every situation by associating with the attributes of God - Allah.
It is one of the tools that Muslims use to know their creator better. By trying to emulate the 99 ``beautiful names,'' as the Quaran puts it, Muslims try to become better people. God's names are their guide. God sets the example. During Ramadam, the sacred month when followers of Islam commemorate the time when Mohammed received sacred teachings from the Angel Gabriel, many Muslims pick one of the Names of God to meditate upon each day: Al-Karim, the Generous One, or Al-Haqq, the Truth, and meditate on it -- as one in another religion (discipline) might meditate on a mantra . . . Obviously, we're dealing with a concept that's impossible to attach words to, so these Divine Names provide a direction for understanding something about the Divine.'' They are all of Divine attribute, adjectives describing the Person God and His glories.
Personal or Impersonal?:
In religion, there are two concepts of God. One is a Personal God who is represented by Yahweh in Judaism, Jehovah in Christianity, Allah in Islam, and Vishnu and Shiva in Hinduism. In Buddhism and Taoism there is no emphasis on a Personal God. A Personal God is one who is like a super being, an anthropomorphic entity, that rules heaven and earth and has a purpose, intent, emotions and so on very similar to us jivas - human beings.
Sometimes, due to seeing such similarities, some persons opt to accept only an impersonal aspect of God, due to the frailties of man. But the difference in the two are the natures of the two; God is full in all attributes, infallible, full of all opulences, all famous, all powerful, all attractive, and eternally existing etc; us tiny souls may have some of these qualities, but the proportionate quantity that we have them is different. Sometimes an example is given of gold in a ring and gold in a mine - both are pure gold, but the quantity of the gold in the ring and the mine are different. So similarly, we may have so many attributes similar to His, but ours have less potency, and are subject to the influences of the material world such as being imperfect, whereas God is all perfect, we make mistakes, He never does, we are subject to illusion, He controls illusion and dispells it to enlighten us, and so on.
By our material limited senses surely He is the Infinite God as being indescribable, indefinable and inconceivable. However, that is not a lacking on His part, but a lacking on ours. For to some He reveals His Divine nature, He reveals His attributes, to some even His Personal Form.
If we say He cannot, then we're trying to put limitations upon Him, for He is the Unlimited Independent Absolute free to do as He likes or does not like with, and in His creation.
Some, who are of the impersonal schools argue that in Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Hinduism, the personal God is given these all-knowing and omnipotent qualities, but without the consideration that any description of God, is a limitation on God. The Infinite God is beyond description and without limitations.
The fact of the matter is that from the Energetic the energy comes and not the other way around. You may hear of me long before you meet me, and that is an impersonal appreciation. After meeting me, to treat me impersonally doesn't match to the full potential our a relationship, thus could be seen as being somewhat rude.
Some try to present that the Infinite God is the potential of all things and has no beginning and has no end. The truth is however, as we pointed out earlier that as far as spiritual nature of quality this may be true, but in quantity there's a vast difference in potential. For the souls of this world are subject to birth, death old age and disease, whereas God is not afflicted by such things.
When atheist reject the notion of a Supreme Being or God, they are really rejecting the concept of a Personal God. To reject the Infinite God, the Infinite Oneness, is like a fish denying the existence of the Ocean.
Examples of such impersonal inclination to the Infinite God is called
"The Way" in Taoism, "Brahman" in modern day Hinduism
and "Dhammakaya" in Buddhism. The Personal God of Vaishnavism (Sanatan Dharm - before Hinduism was polytheism that it is today) Judaism, Christianity and Islam is referred to as also being the Infinite God and yet
the emphasis is on the Personal aspects of God and not the features of God.
When one embraces the the concept of a Supreme Personality as an Infinite God, one understands that there is no difference between the Personal Gods who are worshipped in different places in the world, of all races, religions, nations, and sexes. Just as the Sun in the sky may have different names in differnt places according to different cultures and languages. In America they call Sun, in Italy Sole, in India Surya, among the Maori of New Zealand Ra, but it is the same Sun, just appearing in different places to different peoples who are undergoing different karmas in different longitudes and latitudes around the world. We are talking of the same thing.
Let us look at the case for iconoclasm.
It is true that if one wants a message to reach its said destination one has to follow the authorised system of communication. Neither wishful thinking, nor any manner of inventions, or speculation will suffice nor gain one's goal.
A simple example is that of the postal system; it's not that one can put one's mail in any old box that stands by the side of the road and expect your mail to reach its destination. Only the authorised box that is approved by the postal system, established as the recognised manner of transmittance of "mail", will reach its destination or goal. Other so-called methods, boxes by the side of the road may be categorised as; a mistake - thinking that any old box or idol will be recognised as god - such a mistake originates from, a lack of accurate knowledge. Such idolatry is condemned in all the sacred scriptures of the world. Speculation; again comes from ill informed decisions as what to do and what not to do. Often people that approach in this category are desirous of achieving the goal, but are either misinformed as what to do, or think that they can indeed do anything, or try anything that they like and reach the same destination. Sometimes this is likened to one who wants to go to a valid destination say Auckland, but who not knowing the approved, and direct route heads off in the direction of Tauranga going towards Taupo...........! Some have suggested, the "liberalistic free thinkers" that there is no problem with this as in time the person may get to Auckland in due course of time. The unfortunate fact in many cases are however, that there are just as many chances that the person may not reach the destination too!
Examples of idolatry, monumentation, religious symbolism,
There have been many great men of saintly character over the centuries, to which men have been grateful, have take shelter, such guidance. The memory of such men, not mere men, but empowered saints not only give us good role models, but leave with us epitaphs to their teachings and realisation. Consequently out of gratitude to the "saint", who by proof in his personal practical example in life, the people consider him worthy by erecting a monument of him (or her), and by Divine rite he/she is established in "sainthood". By this I do not suggest that saints are made by popular opinion, yet an exemplary pure and Godly person, who genuinely does the work of the Lord and who does so in a selfless and humble manner is a saint though walking amongst us. But alas it has come these days, due to a misunderstanding of what is an idol, what is an icon and the real and personal interaction with such saints, what to speak of the Lord through such religious symbolic representations that there is no proper regard for the memory of such a person, and as such the birds come and pass stool on that form, and as for God because the human mind cannot comprehend their being a personal form other than resembling our own, which has so many faults, their deduction is that He too is formless.
Religious symbolism is universal to all religions. But how the symbols remind us of our personal relationship with God make symbolism either worthy (a form of deity worship), or unworthy (a form of idolatry). For example we see in many Christian Churches the symbol of The Virgin Mary holding her young child Jesus the Christ, truly a worshipable form. The symbol of the lamb, or the fish reminds us of events in the life of Jesus, and so of Him. However, we do not worship a lamb or a fish separately as being worshipable. In the same way the symbol of the cross, His teachings in humility, tolerance, and mercy - the cross reminds us of Him.
In the same way when we see an icon or deity of Buddha sitting in a meditative pose, we remember Him, His teachings, what He did for mankind, and out of gratitude want to reciprocate with an offering of loving gratitude, maybe by offering a flower, or a candle or a lamp. The same reciprocal mood of love is imbibed with the worship of Deities in Vaisnava or Hindu temples. Lord Krishna Himself tells us in Bhagavad Gita (the song of God) 9:27. "If you offer Me with love and devotion a leaf a flower or some fruit I will accept that......!"
Of course just like in Christianity or Islam there have been unauthorised forms presented, which have caused uproar to the devout. So in Hinduism sometimes strange forms appear and are taken by uneducated persons to be the form of God, or the various forms of God's administrative heads of the universe, are taken to be Him, or that there are "many gods". So may misunderstandings are there.
The unfortunate context that has prevailed the centuries has been that of if it doesn't fit within my particular paradigm, or angle of preaching at the moment; if it could be seen as a political threat; if it would allow or keep those people who we rule over, doing what they have been doing; ........then such religious symbolism, Deity worship has been branded "Pagan", "heathen", "sacrilegious" etc., etc. And another system put into place irrespective of it's motives and possible faults!!!
The Quran says: "Some men regard other beings as equivalent to God and love them as if they were God but the believers devote all of their love to God." (2:165) "Among His signs are the night and the day and the sun and the moon. Do not bow down and prostrate yourselves before the sun and the moon. Instead, prostrate yourselves humbly before the God that created them." (41:37)
dhyeya sadA savitr maNDala madhyavartI
nArAyaNaH sarasijAsana sanniviSTaH
keyUravAn makara kuNDalavAn kirITI
hArI hiraNmaya vapuH dhrta zaGkha cakraH
"One should meditate on the form of the Lord Who is the source of the Sun's rays. He as the primary creator is seated on a lotus, with golden bracelets, crown, shark earrings; he is golden in complexion, and holds the shankha and chakra in his hands. He alone is the cause of the Sun's shining." (Rg Veda)
Another View Of Historians And Missionaries Work.
In times just prior to Islam the unauthorised worship was rampant, it was nothing to see people worshipping all manner of men, beasts, and bizarre combinations of the two. And all to be taken as "God". With most forms of "Cleansing", the baby is often thrown out with the bath water. And this was no different in ancient times as it is today. The "authorities" of the time knew what needed to be stopped, but in order to do so had to stop all manner of worship of speculative forms of deities, they banned all deity worship. Anyone found worshiping a deity of any kind was put to death. Later as Islamic conquerors invaded such countries where deity worship pervaded as part of everyday functional life, such as in India these "upholders of the faith", the iconoclasts, either smashed every deity without discrimination; defiled the temple that the deity stood in; destroyed such a temple; then spreading ill-rumour, and editing history, "created new history", or a combination of all of the above, with which to establish their particular manner of faith as Absolute, and all others as "Infidels".
This was not particular to Islam. Christianity (in its numerous forms) did it, and are still doing it all over the world. The zealous missionaries of the 19th century forged not only new frontiers, but also forged many a history book in their attempt to convert the "pagan savages" of Africa, the Americas (South America - Hawaii etc.), India, Australia and New Zealand. In all of these countries an abundance of wealth was displayed to allure the "poor savages" (often funded by either the church or a wealthy merchant who carried a particular "faith" - or a combination of the two by which such merchants/industrialists/ or even slave traders could exploit the colonies). Just for an instant we could look at New Zealand. The Christian missions adhere to a story that these pagan peoples know as the Maori had no goal in life, and were just waiting for Christendom to come to their shores. Yet if we look back over the past hundred years at some of the things that have been done in the name of helping these indigenous people to know Jesus; the blood shed, the manipulations of land, the conscripting and sending of men to war to gain their land, laws passed defining Maori as not being eligible for various things........, unless they accepted the Bible; prejudices forced by Churchmen; ridicule and intimidation of the Maori culture, until the people embarrassed, gave it up just to survive in the Christian world of education and employment. The history books too have been carefully changed, the treasured ancestral home, and origin of these proud and cultured people almost now lost into political oblivion. Today the Maori (and other Pacific Islanders) are forced to follow western methods of dress, linguistic interaction, schooling, employment (or rather lack of it - unemployment), in accordance with the changing trends and plans laid down by colonialistic forefathers.
Although many of the people of this Maori race are trying to gain their own identity again, many (and I mean many) appear to be relics of a broken race. Their once proud warrior stature lost to degradation in public drinking houses, betting shops and hanging around the street or watching T.V. at home - a broken people. There is great concern for the Maori youth, as so many are the instigators of crime, violence, and gang activity - all symptoms of lack of identity. True that everything is a matter of personal choice, to give up their former culture or not to; to engage in something potentially harmful or not to; to allow oneself to be manipulated or not to; but we have to be honest in recognising how much influence vast amounts of money, troops and educational or re-educational propaganda can have on an environment. To which we can all thank the British Crown, and its Ministry's (the Christian Missions).
The following is an article found in the Watchtower magazine of te Jehova's
Witnesses, dated February 15th 1997., pages 25-28.
"Agreement Between "God's Temple" And Idols In Greece?
On this ver hot summer day, the sun beats down on the glittering stones. The extreme heat, however, does not seem to dampen the spirites and fierce detemination of a throng of devout Greek Orthadox pilgrims who head for the chapel at the top of the hill.
You see an exhausted old woman, who journeyed from the other end of the country, struggling to keep her tired feet going. A little farther up, an eager man is heavily perspiring as he anxiouly tries to make his way through the jostling crowd. And a young gorl, obviously in pain and with a despirate expression on her face, crawls on her badly bleeding knees. The goal? To reach on time, to pray before and, if possible, to touch and kiss the icn of the celebrated 'saint'.
Scenes similar to this one are repeated all over the world at places devoted to the veneration of 'saints'. Apparently, all these pilgrims are convinced that in this wa they are follwing God's way for approaching him, thus expressing their devotion and faith."
I personally do not have a problem with asking an obviously advanced and devout soul, either in his personal form - him standing there before me, or in his deity form, either way, one of God's own, to help me in my progression along the same path towards Him. This I believe to be the intrinsic difference in approaching a genuine saint for help in one's devotional development, and going before someone like Sai Baba, and a miriad of other modern day 'saints' and asking for material boons etc.
"The book Our Orthodox Christian Faith states: 'We commemorate [the
saints], and ascribe glory and honour to their holy personages....., and
we ask their prayers before God on our behalf and their supplications and
aid in many needs of our lives...... We recourse to the wonder-working
Saints.....for our spiritual and bodily needs'. Also, according to synodic
canons of the Roman Catholic Church, 'saints' are to be invoked as intercessors
with God, and both the relics and the images of the 'saints' are to be
The primary concern of a genuine Christian should be to worship God 'with spirit and truth.'(John 4:24.) For this reason let us consider some facts about the way in which the veneration of 'saints' was introduced as part of the religious practices of Christendom. Such an examination should be very enlightening for everyone desiring to aproach God in a way acceptable to Him."
A few interesting statements are found here; It seems that some people don't think that they need the help of devoted God conscious souls around them. I for sure do, in fact many of us are honest enough to admit that we need all the help that we can get. Spritual life is sometimes described as being like one person reaching upwards to God, while one person extends their hand offering a hand down-ward, to those less fortunate, or less experienced or advanced in spiritual development. So not only do I pray to the 'saints' but I pray to those devotees who are around me, that I can always remain on the progressive path to pure God consciousness.
I find it a little disturbing, that always there seems to be some finger pointing within the Christian camp as to who is a real or genuine Christian.
"How 'Saints' Were Accepted.
The Christian Greek Scriptures designate as 'holy ones', or 'saints', all those early Christians who were cleansed by the blood of Christ and who were set apart for God's service as prospective joint heirs with Christ (Acts 9:32; Corinthians 1:1;13:13.) Men and women prominent and lowly ones in the congregation, all werer described as 'holy ones' while living here on earth. Recognition of their being saints Scripturally was obviously not deferred until after they had died.
After the second century C.E., though, while apostate Christianity was taking shape, the tendency was to try to make Christianity popular, a religion that would appeal to pagan peoples and be readily acceptable to them. these pagans worshipped a pantheon of gods, and the new religion was strictly monotheistic. So a compromise would be possible through the adoption of 'saints', who would take the place of the ancient gods, demigods, and mythical heros. Commenting on this, the book Ekkliasiastiki Istoria (Ecclesiastical History) states: 'For those being converted from paganism to Christianity, it was easy to recognise their abandoned heroes in the person of the martyrs and start rendereing them the honour they previously gave to the former ones...... Very often, however, the rendering of such honours to the saints came to be pure idolatry'.
Another reference work explains how 'saints' were introduced into Christendom: 'In the rendereing of honour to the saints of the Greek Orthadox Church, we find obvious traces of the strog influence that pagan religion had. Qualities that were attributed to the Olympian gods before [people] were converted to Christianity were now ascribed to the saints..... From the early years of the new religion, we see its adherents replacing the sun-god (Phoebus Apollo) with the Prophet Elijah, building churches on, or next to, the ruins of ancient temples or shrines of this god, mostly on the top of hills and mountains, at every place where the ancient Greeks honoured the light-giver Phoebus Apollo....... They even identified the Virgin-goddess Athena with the Virgin Mary herself. Thus, the gap that was created when the idol of Athena was torn down was eliminated
This is the promise of the Quran: "It is Our will that We show favor to those who have been oppressed throughout history for Me, by making them leaders and the inheritors of the earth." (28:5) "God promises those among you who believe and do good deeds that He will make you viceregents on earth, that He will firmly establish the religion He has chosen for you, and that He will bestow on all the believers safety after their fear of the enemy this, in order that you might worship Me alone and not ascribe to Me any partners/equals/couterparts." (24:55)
God is Great, There is only one God, He has many names, He has many pure devotees - prophets
BY NARARATNA DAS
Date: Wed, 29 Sep 2004 02:49:03 -0000
From: "vrnparker" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: How A Muslim Came To Krsna
September 27, 2004 VNN8707
EDITORIAL, Sep 27 (VNN) — Hare Krsna Maharajs, Prabhus & Mothers.
Please accept my humble obeisences, all glories to Srila Prabhupada.
Some of you know me from Mayapur and what we are doing in the Middle East but for those who don't, I'll give you a brief account of our history.
Yes! All glouries to Srila Prabhupada transendental book distribution & the surrendered souls that distribute them, why?
Well, for 24 years I lived with my strict Muslim family as a desent Muslim in London. Then in 1994, after watching most of my friends and 2 of my brothers become swallowed and trapped by Regular material life (get married, get a house, go to work everyday, come home, watch TV, sleep and then get up to do the same mundane things) I came to my senses and thought this cant be all there is to lifa? There must be something more Although I was quite a happy positive 24 year old adult, I didnt feel satisfied. Something was always missing but what, I asked!! My brothers & I were all brought up as strict Muslims following the principls of Islam. My father would force us study the koran, we would get the belt if we didnt study every night and memorise our verses. As life went by, I started asking questions that were not answered, such as who is Allah, what does He look like, what does he do? and What happens to people who die now, where does the soul go? And if God were fair, Why are souls put into different circumstances at the time of birth which gave rise to a soul living and suffering in Africa while another soul, born to a rich American family lives in complete comfort and safety? I was told I shouldn't ask such questions and to not pursue the answers!
Unfortunaely, this is how most Muslims are brought up, Here are the rules to follow and some little information but don't ask questions that can't be answered! This lack of freedom and encouragement to enquire and question the teachings is what has led to the kind of fanatic Muslims we have today.
(As His Divind grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta swami Prabhupada has stated,Philosophy without Religion is speculation and Religion without the philosophy becomes fanaticism.) Not that Islam doesn't have philosophy because it does but the way it is being used and presented today is the problem. Fortunately for me, Krsna arranged that I wasnt complete happy. By the time I was 24, Krsna gave me the courage, faith and push to stop everthing and leave London on a planned two year trip that would take me in a caravan from London through Europe, Eastern Europe, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan and finally to India. My inspiration was this was the only way I could satisfy myself, to learn as much as I could from other cultures and become a better person. That final leaving day came, as I surrounded by heart broken weeping family members and friends, one of my brothers gave me a book. He said that a friend had given it to him as a birthday gift but had been too busy to read it or even look at it. I put it in my caravan and slowly drove away. I can honestly say That this was the most painful time of my life, I was 24 yet I cried as I drove to the coast for the next 3 hours and my so called heart was in london for the next 2 months! It was so hard to leave things behind (even for just two years)and focus knowing that ` wouldn't see them for a long two years. Inspite of this, I held on to the thought that if I really wanted to become a better person, there was no other way! Six months later I found myself in Turkey getting back into studying the Koran because unlike the Muslims I had known in London who taught one thing but practiced something different,the Turks seemed to apply the teachings of the Koran into there daily life a bit more. But Again as I read and asked questions I came up against the same frusrations, a lack of satisfying information for my queries. I put the Koran back onto my book shelf and feeling dejected I went through my book shelf hoping there was something to enthuse my soul. Suddenly a book jumped out at me. I didn't recognise it, it was the book that my brother had given to me as I was leaving London. It had a beautiful picture of a blue celesial person with 4 arms and the name of the book was just the title to excite me THE SCIENCE OF SELF REALISATION, wounderful title! I couldn't put it down until I had finished it all. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said I owed a magnificent day to the Bhagavad Gita. It was as if an empire spoke to us, nothing small or unworthy, but large, serene, consistent, the voice of an old intelligence which in another age and climate had pondered and thus disposed of the same questions which exercise us now. His divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta swami Prabhupada answered all my questions and gave me alot more in such clear and easy to understand English, just perfect! For me a big hole in my life had just been filled and I felt alittle strange, pain from having my false ego exposed and cut by the sword of knowledge but happy to finally get the truth!
Now at least philosophically I knew we were all souls and there was a Supreme soul Known as Krsna or Visnu and we all had an eternal relationship With Him in the spiritual world as well as here in this world of temporary life. Infact right there in Turkey I started to apply this. I was alone in my caravan and my friend, his wife and son were in another caravan. I would wake up early to do some exercises, feeling alone I would imagine youthful Krsna jogging along side me and racing with him. I would go to disco clubs and as the song would sing about a boy's love for a girl or girl's love for a boy, I simply converted so that the song was about Krsna. Is was great! My world was slowing changing so Krsna became the center.
Unlike Muslims (and preachers of other religions) who would tell me that only Muslims would go to heaven, the rest would go to hell, Prabhupada said Doesn't matter what bonafide process of religion you chose to follow, if that process increases your love and attraction to God (krsna), the supreme personality of Godhead, then that process was perfect.
This simple but pure truth was so pleasing to hear, I would hate it and reject whatever when people said this is the only way. Of course, I immediately understood and accepted that this Vedic knowledge gave me what the Koran was giving me and the bonus of alot more confidentail (higher) information about God and as Prabhupada again so innocently says how could you or anyone love God if you know nothing or very little about Him, so more detail information was essential and natural just like in any other relationship.
I looked for a Krsna conscious temple or some kind of center but nothing exsisted here in Turkey. I was hungry for more information and practical tips on how to perform bhakti-yoga in daily life. Just before I left Turkey the same brother who had given me the book visited me here and all I could talk about was this vedic information and how it had completely changed my out look on life, from a selfish materialist to a thoughtful understanding human willing to live with, work with and love all species of life as members of my own family. My brother appriciated the concept but said that unless everyone changed at the same time it wouldn't work. So why bother! I simply answered that the change must start with the man in the mirror! To my great surprise two weeks later I received a parcel from him. Eventhough he thought vedic teachings were somewhat different from Islam still he had gone to the temple, bought and sent me the Jewel of all Eastern philosophy The Bhagavad Gita. I still don't think he knows how much I appriciated this because I knew he didn't like the Bhagavad Gita (thinking it was some Indian book for Indians) but he sent it because I liked it. I don't know if you can understand, but this was a Muslim buying something for another Muslim that (in his eyes) could possibily lead him (me) astray.
I was eating the Bhagavad Gita night and day.
From the transendental pages of the Bhagavad Gita I learnt about my real identity, nature around me, why we all exsist, how we are interconnected and ofcourse how to attain full freedom by self realisation. And for me this was the answer to all our worldly problems, this was the information that everyone needed to hear and know to gain real internal peace and happiness. I knew with this information the world could really be a happy place with everyone living and working in harmony. Later on I would accept this as my duty to humanity.
As a result of this I became a strict vegeterian (actually only eating food that was first offered to Krsna), I started chanting the Hare Krsna Maha Mantra and following the four regulative principles given to bring one to the human platform of life.
1, No intoxications
2, No eating Meat (incl chicken, fish and eggs)
3, No sex outside of marriage
4, No gambling
I was so happy and stress free. Really! I was singing the Hare Krsna mantra in the rain, at work, everywhere! People were asking me what is this song and how come I was so happy and full of positivity so I would explain it to them and some would try to sing the mantra with me.
On observing Turkish people and how nice and openly friendly they were to everyone I remember saying there should definately be a Krsna conscious temple or some kind of center here, that would be great!! Yes, just a dream? ( a dream that Krsna would later manifest? Lets see?) There was no such center in Turkey, neither was anything listed in Iran or pakistan.I had to patiently drive and wait until I got to India to meet devotees who practiced this bhakti-yoga way of life.
I drove to Vrindavan and upon hearing the hare Krsna Maha mantra being sung so sweatly at night and seeing all the devotees sparkle and dance in ecstacy, I knew this was the life for me. and joined the Hare Krsna Movement there but after 4 days I was advised that Mayapur would suit me better as it was the center of learning. The night I arrived in Mayapur I was introduced to Jananivas and pankajangri prabhus because they came from london too. The next morning I took a bath in mother ganga but on trying to get into my van ` suddenly realised that ` had swum with the keys to the van in my pocket and now they had gone! Devotees joked that Caitanya Mahaprabhu didnt want to leave me with a way to escape so ofcourse I joined the bhakta training program for 3 months and on completion I then immediately joined the interfaith communications program. This project attracted me because I had read and seen so many poeple and organisations try to use knowledge and religion to create distinctions for the purpose of segregating people but these devotees had the aim of bringing all people and their religions together under one flag through the spiritual scientific analysis and understanding of Science, Philosophy and Religion.
After being there for one year receiving futher education and learning how to practically apply this philosophy in my own life, I was happily shocked and amazed when the head of this dept said ok, you are ready to start helping others and we think you should go and start sharing this knowledge with others. And which place did they think I should go to? Yes! Turkey.
This was like sweet music to my ears. Although everyone that I spoke to told me I should NOT go because I was relatively new and Muslim people specially in Muslim countries were heavy, no place for a new devotee! Fortunately, Krsna gave me such a clear feeling that this was what he wanted me to do as my service to Him. It was very clear to me that He had prepared me for this so I didn't feel scared at all. I knew He was behind me and infront of me.
So, after praying intensely to all the presiding deities in Mayapur,SRI SRI RADHA-MADHAVA / LORD NARASIMHADEVA and THE PANCA TATTVA and asking all the devotees to give us their blessings, we set of for Turkey in 1996.
The plan was to slowly expose ourselves to this new enviroment in stages.
We would go for 3 months first then return for 6 months then go for 6 months and return for 6 months. Our stay in Mayapur didn't lose it's focus on our objectives. We continued to study, research and compile books aimed at bringing people of all religions together. We wrote five books specially connected with Krsna Consciouness and Islam.
1,SRILA PRABHUPADA ON ISLAM( everything His Divine Grace A.C. Prabhupada ever said about Islam)
2,BHAKTI YOGA and ISLAM (questions and answers encountered in the field by Srila Prabhupada & devotees sharing Krsna Consciousness with Muslims in Muslim countries)
3,THE HIDDEN TREASURE OF AL-QURAN. (the HOLY QURAN as explained by CAITANYA MAHAPRABHU)
4,COMPARATIVE COSMOLOGY. (a comparative study of Modern science, the QURAN, the BIBLE and VEDIC KNOWLEDGE) 5,ENLIGHTENMENT OF CHAND KAZI. (the teachings of Caitanya Mahaprabhu to the Muslim leader Chand Kazi)
6,KRSNA CONSCIOUNESS & ISLAM. A newly produced 20 hour double CD presentation about KC & Islam.
The books are designed to help Krishna-conscious devotees present a Vedic viewpoint to members of the Muslim community in a non-argumentative way, as well as to encourage Muslim readers to deepen and strengthen their efforts at God-realisation. Our goal is to build a strong foundation of mutual understanding so that everyone's love and devotion towards the Supreme Lord whom we call Krsna and whom Muslims call Allah -- can be ignited and cultivated favourably.
So, you can see we were very serious and commited to this goal as a life times mission.
The first 3 month period in Turkey was both wonderful and very very difficult. Wounderful because we were experiencing a closeness to Krsna that I hadn't experienced even in Mayapur. Our prayers were intense specially to Lord Nrishimhadeva because we were alone in a Muslim country, no temple, no devotees, no kirtans, no Indian community and no support! Just the two of us! We could clearly feel and see how Krsna was behind everything that happened to us. For example, We had practically no money and we expected to be sleeping on the beach but Krsna arranged that someone offered us their cafe floor to sleep on after it closed at 10pm.
Then someone offered us a half complete flat to stay in, no windows or doors but there was water and a roof which was better that nothing! Then for 3 weeks I suffered form Malaria, I really thought I might leave my body. During the day I would ok and would go around looking for a job then come 4pm the hellish region would desend on me and all night I would struggle with a burning body, the amazing thing was each time I would come back to an awaken state ` found my self chanting hare Krsna so I really wasnt scared of dying but luckily again Krsna was there to finally arrange some free treatment, they took care of me in hospital for 2 weeks something that would have cost us thousands we got for free. Slowly we got to know the people but we couldn't really find anyone who was interested in spirituality. Language was one big barrier we would have to overcome and the area we were in was made up of mostly conservative Muslims. Nevertheless, we had expected things to be like this so had planned that the first stage of our service would be to simply get to know the enviroment and the people.
The second and third time around we planned to stay for 6 and then 9 months, each time continuing where we had previously left off .
As we moved around and stayed in different areas we got to know the people more and more and how things worked here, we got jobs that allowed us to really mingle and become like normal people (from this angle we hoped we could better understand the poeple's problems and how best to help them. This gave us the time and experience to really see and feel how people reacted to our exsistence and our presentations. We came to realise a very important point, these Muslim people were very very nice helpful and welcoming but if you push the wrong buttons and touch some sensative areas in thr wrong way, specially topics connected with their religious sentiments then your so called friendly friend could change into an erupting volcano in seconds. So be careful out there when you are dealing with Muslims dont judge the book by the cover. Actually, an any area, make a commitment, be patient & get to know your field before you farm it.
Prabhupada often compares us to docters and what we have to give as the all liberating medicine so a good doctor studies his patient first then prescribes the right medicine in the right dose.
I always remmember being told in Mayapur by our leader that for this service we had to give up the conditioning and identity that we were preachers and just see ourselves as normal people living among others because Muslims are really really sensative about poeple trying to change them and they can sense it immediately. People should see and really feel that we are simply living our personal life styles and who ever is interested in what we do, we are happy to share this spiritual culture with them. What they do with that info afterwards must be left to them. As Krsna says in the Bhagavad Gita ( 18.63 ) to Arjuna
Thus I have explained to you Knowledge still more confidential.Deliberate on this fully, and then do what you wish to do.
After our 9 month stay, we had to make an huge decision. In Mayapur our same team ran two departments: The interfaith communications dept and the Bhaktivedanta Research Institue which had produced 12 books for the education of both devotees in The Hare Krsna Movement and the general mass of people. Unfortunately the time had come where we could no longer be in two places for parts of the year, India and Turkey.
Turkey needed us to be there all year round. We knew that for this project to develop nicely, we had to be there full time and there was no one else who would do it so in 1999 we left our merciful base Mayapur and headed for full time Turkey.
This moved us into stage two of our plan. We found and started to rent a flat of our own where we soon held Sunday programmes and the reading of The transendental, all liberating, Bhagavad Gita.
We started to teach people about The Vedic culture way of life, mantra meditation, vegeterian cooking and playing traditional devotional music. All aimed at the liberation of the soul, giving him entrance into the spiritual realm. We are endeavoring to continue to do tha same.
One of the main problems we have faced is the small numbers of people that have come to our programme when you compare that to the 19 million people that live in this city. We have no choice other than to slowly get to know people and see if they themselves are intersted in what we have to offer, slowly cultivating that interest and then if it's safe (as in they won't call the police upon seeing or hearing something they don't like in our flat) we extended an invitation to our flat to learn more about the benifits of meditation and self realisation. Fortunately, we have never had any complaints from anyone, even our neigbours don't mind the singing on Sunday. We have always focused on developing good friendly relationships with everyone. After all we want to give this oppertunity to everyone. Once, we even had concerned parents of one boy come to see what there son was getting into, but when they came they really liked what they heard, the teachings of Bhagavad Gita ( we aren't body, we are soul, as such we are all related as brothers and sisters with one Supreme father, so try to give up using and abusing each other and try to help eachother come to the point of real understanding, real peace, real love, only to be experienced through full self realisation which this Vedic knowledge is teaching).
You can imagine how much time & energy this takes with each person, plus the fact that we have to work at the same time in order to be able to maintain eveything financially, not easy!
Since personally coming here in 1996, we have spent the first 3 years part time moving around this city and then another 3 years based in one flat (temple) and then last year we moved to the flat we are in now. During this time we have got to know the people, the country, the culture, the police and how they all work and interact better, we now feel confident that more people are interested and will come to learn more about Vedic culture, yoga, mantra meditation, vegetariansm and eventually bhakti yoga if given the chance. We have always faced two problems, TIME & MONEY.
To generate money to finance things we have to scarifice time doing jobs and spending time with people that are not interested in spiritual life.
Remember, this isnt England where you can get donations from the locals to help, these are Muslim people in a Muslim country. This means only a small amount of out potential time is really spent with people personally helping them. At present I pay 600 dollars per month for our flat and definately we will be here for a long time. From 1998 I've helped support other iskcon projects as well as this project by selling my small flat in London. Now I dont have any bulk money left. I just depend on what I earn monthly to run everything here. As taught by srila Prabhupada, we are always trying to be self dependent and not hassle others but in this case, I really do desprately need your assistance. We now have a strong desire to buy the flat we are currently in or one similar in a similar location.
I really dislike it when it seems like we are wasting Krsna's money thus I feel alittle frustrated because I dont have the money to buy this place but are giving 600 dollars a month to the bin! Please help me stop wasting Krsna's money and purchase our own place for two big reasons.
1, As renters we can be kicked out anytime if someone doesnt like us for any reason whcih is a daily possibility and will become more likely if more poeple come. In real life here, a renter has no rights. On the otherhand we will have full rights to do what we want as long as it is within the confines of our flat if we own it. Ofcourse we will not be desrespectful or thoughtless. As prabhupada says, We must always be respectful and courtious even to our enimies, so if we want to invest our time and energy here to develop a spiritual oasis where people can come and revitalise themselves, owning our own property is a must.
2, Ofcourse we will save alot of money. Instead of paying 7,200 dollars per year for the next 20 years and get nothing, we can pay a simillar amount and within 20 years we will have our own building. No more rent!! Radha-istanbulisvara will have there own place and devotees wont have to worry about paying the rent. They can fully focus on the real work, rescuing souls from the clutches of this temporary material energy and setting them free.
So many of the younger generation are interested in learning about spiritual life but are afraid to come and ask because of socail pressure from the older more conservative Muslims but finally under pressure from the youth of today and the European union spiritual or religous organisations will be given the rights and freedom to practise. This will take EVEN MORE TIME to actually manifest in peoples attitudes but the green light is definately coming in the future.
So when that clear green light comes this center will be ready to transform into a fully fledged legal Hare Krsna center operating directly as Srila Prabhupada wanted, giving everyone the chance to experience the alternative to the struggle and stress of the imbalanced material life that is currently on offer to the frustrated soul. Openly, freely and directly educating people in all aspects of spirirtual life and how to directly apply such knowledge in daily life so that each and every indivdual can become a happy person and from a happier person we get a happier family, a happier city, a happier nation and eventually a happier world for everyone. Please Please feel our sincerity, see our commitment and understand krsna is pleased by any service you do but this service really does have a special place in Prabhupada's heart. As he himself said those who preach to Muslims, I take the dust from their lotus feet You can just read this as any other pamphlet, walk away and nothing will happen but I'm personally begging you not to do that. Please decide right now what you can do to help and contact us at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Here are some of my suggestions (we need 120 thousand dollars): 1, We only need 120 devotees (individually or collectively) to donate 1,000 dollars each.
2, Devotees can loan us 1,000 dollars each and specify howlong they could give it to us for so those who need it back the quickest will be paid back first.
I am personaly willing and able to pay back 600 dollars per month to anyone that loans us any money or arranges a loan for us.
3, Someone can secure us a 120 thousand dollar (morgage) loan for which the place can be registered in their name as security and I will pay back 600 dollars per month (if we dont buy a place I will have to pay 600 dollars per month as rent anyway so I can do this)
Please impower us to give them such a nice revitalising experience that they will be inspired to look deeper into the subject of real health, the needs of the soul. As Srila Prabhupada has said we are concerned to have conviction as opposed to conversion.
We are trying to inpire devotees to take advantage of the most auspicious
day on which to give your donation Radhastani, fasting till noon.
I would be very encouraged and happy to hear your comments on this
or any sugestions you may have to help us achieve this goal that is
very pleasing to Srila Prabhupada and the whole Parampara
Hare Krsna. All glouries to Srila Prabhupada.