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Was a Guru
Not Kill” or “Thou Shalt Not Murder”?
In 1974, near ISKCON’s center
in Frankfurt am Main, West Germany, Çréla Prabhupäda
and several of his disciples took a morning walk with father Emmanuel Jungclaussen,
a Benedictine monk from Niederalteich Monastery. Noticing that Çréla
Prabhupäda was carrying meditation beads similar to the rosary, Father
Emmanuel explained that he also chanted a constant prayer: “Lord Jesus
Christ, be merciful unto us.” The following conversation ensued.
What is the meaning of the word Christ?
Christ comes from the Greek word Christos, meaning “the anointed one.”
is the Greek version of the word Kåñëa.
This is very interesting.
an Indian person calls on Kåñëa, he often says, “Kåñöa.”
Kåñöa is a Sanskrit word meaning “attraction.” So when
we address God as “Christ,” “Kåñöa,” or “Kåñëa,”
we indicate the same all-attractive Supreme Personality of Godhead. When
Jesus said, “Our Father, who an in heaven, sanctified be Thy name,” that
name of God was “Kåñöa” or “Kåñëa.”
Do you agree?
I think Jesus, as the son of God, has revealed to us the actual name of
God: Christ. We can call God “Father,” but if we want to address Him by
His actual name, we have to say “Christ.”
Yes. “Christ” is another way of saying Kåñöa, and “Kåñöa”
is another way of pronouncing Kåñëa, the name of God.
Jesus said that one should glorify the name of God, but yesterday I heard
one theologian say that God has no name—that we can call Him only “Father.”
A son may call his father “Father,” but the father also has a specific
name. Similarly, “God” is the general name of the Supreme Personality of
Godhead, whose specific name is Kåñëa. Therefore whether
you call God “Christ,” “Kåñöa,” or “Kåñëa,”
ultimately you are addressing the same Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Yes, if we speak of God’s actual name, then we must say, “Christos.” In
our religion, we have the Trinity: the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit.
We believe we can know the name of God only by revelation from the Son
of God. Jesus Christ revealed the name of the father, and therefore we
take the name Christ as the revealed name of God.
Actually, it doesn’t matter—Kåñëa or Christ—the name
is the same. The main point is to follow the injunctions of the Vedic scriptures
that recommend chanting the name of God in this age. The easiest way is
to chant the mahä-mantra: Hare Kåñëa, Hare Kåñëa,
Kåñëa Kåñëa, Hare Hare/ Hare Räma,
Hare Räma, Räma Räma, Hare Hare. Räma and Kåñëa
are names of God, and Hare is the energy of God. So when we chant the mahä-mantra,
we address God together with His energy. This energy is of two kinds, the
spiritual and the material. At present we are in the clutches of the material
energy. Therefore we pray to Kåñëa that He may kindly
deliver us from the service of the material energy and accept us into the
service of the spiritual energy. That is our whole philosophy. Hare Kåñëa
means, “O energy of God, O God [Kåñëa], please engage
me in Your service.” It is our nature to render service. Somehow or other
we have come to the service of material things, but when this service is
transformed into the service of the spiritual energy, then our life is
perfect. To practice bhakti-yoga [loving service to God] means to become
free from designations like “Hindu,” “Muslim,” “Christian,” this or that,
and simply to serve God. We have created Christian, Hindu, and Muhammadan
religions, but when we come to a religion without designations, in which
we don’t think we are Hindus or Christians or Muhammadans, then we can
speak of pure religion, or bhakti.
No, bhakti. When we speak of bhakté, mukti [liberation from material
miseries] is included. Without bhakti there is no mukti, but if we act
on the platform of bhakti, then mukti is included. We learn this from the
“One who engages in full devotional
service, who does not fall down under any circumstance, at once transcends
the modes of material nature and thus comes to the level of Brahman.”
mäà ca yo
sa guëän samatétyaitän
Is Brahman Kåñëa?
Kåñëa is Parabrahman. Brahman is realized in three aspects:
as impersonal Brahman, as localized Paramätmä, and as personal
Brahman. Kåñëa is personal, and He is the Supreme Brahman,
for God is ultimately a person. In the Çrémad-Bhägavatam
(1.2.11), this is confirmed:
“Learned transcendentalists who know
the Absolute Truth call this nondual substance Brahman, Paramätmä,
or Bhagavän.” The feature of the Supreme Personality is the ultimate
realization of God. He has all six opulences in full: He is the strongest,
the richest, the most beautiful, the most famous, the wisest, and the most
vadanti tat tattva-vidas
tattvam yaj jïänam
bhagavän iti çabdyate
Yes, I agree.
God is absolute, His name, His form, and His qualities are also absolute,
and they are nondifferent from Him. Therefore to chant God’s holy name
means to associate directly with Him. When one associates with God, one
acquires godly qualities, and when one is completely purified, one becomes
an associate of the Supreme Lord.
Father Emmanuel: But
our understanding of the name of God is limited.
Yes, we are limited, but God is unlimited. And because He is unlimited,
or absolute, He has unlimited names, each of which is God. We can understand
His names as much as our spiritual understanding is developed.
May I ask a question? We Christians also preach love of God, and we try
to realize love of God and render service to Him with all our heart and
all our soul. Now, what is the difference between your movement and ours?
Why do you send your disciples to the Western countries to preach love
of God when the gospel of Jesus Christ is propounding the same message?
The problem is that the Christians do not follow the commandments of God.
Do you agree?
Father Emmanuel: Yes,
to a large extent you’re right.
Then what is the meaning of the Christians’ love for God? If you do not
follow the orders of God, then where is your love? Therefore we have come
to teach what it means to love God: if you love Him, you cannot be disobedient
to His orders. And if you’re disobedient, your love is not true.
All over the world, people love
not God but their dogs. The Kåñëa consciousness movement
is therefore necessary to teach people how to revive their forgotten love
for God. Not only the Christians, but also the Hindus, the Muhammadans,
and all others are guilty. They have rubber-stamped themselves “Christian,”
“Hindu,” or “Muhammadan,” but they do not obey God. That is the problem.
Visitor: Can you say in what way the Christians are disobedient?
Yes. The first point is that they violate the commandment “Thou shalt not
kill” by maintaining slaughterhouses. Do you agree that this commandment
is being violated?
Personally, I agree.
Good. So if the Christians want to love God, they must stop killing animals.
Father Emmanuel: But
isn’t the most important point—
If you miss one point, there is a mistake in your calculation. Regardless
of what you add or subtract after that, the mistake is already in the calculation,
and everything that follows will also be faulty. We cannot simply accept
that part of the scripture we like, and reject what we don’t like, and
still expect to get the result. For example, a hen lays eggs with its back
part and eats with its beak. A farmer may consider, “The front part of
the hen is very expensive because I have to feed it. Better to cut it off.”
But if the head is missing there will be no eggs anymore, because the body
is dead. Similarly, if we reject the difficult part of the scriptures and
obey the part we like, such an interpretation will not help us. We have
to accept all the injunctions of the scripture as they are given, not only
those that suit us. If you do not follow the first order, “Thou shalt not
kill,” then where is the question of love of God?
Christians take this commandment to be applicable to human beings, not
That would mean that Christ was not intelligent enough to use the right
word: murder. There is killing, and there is murder. Murder refers to human
beings. Do you think Jesus was not intelligent enough to use the right
word—murder—instead of the word killing? Killing means any kind of killing,
and especially animal killing. If Jesus had meant simply the killing of
humans, he would have used the word murder.
But in the Old Testament the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” does refer
to murder. And when Jesus said, “Thou shalt not kill,” he extended this
commandment to mean that a human being should not only refrain from killing
another human being, but should also treat him with love. He never spoke
about man’s relationship with other living entities, but only about his
relationship with other human beings. When he said, “Thou shalt not kill,”
he also meant in the mental and emotional sense—that you should not insult
anyone or hurt him, treat him badly, and so on.
We are not concerned with this or that testament but only with the words
used in the commandments. If you want to interpret these words, that is
something else. We understand the direct meaning. “Thou shalt not kill”
means, “The Christians should not kill.” You may put forth interpretations
in order to continue the present way of action, but we understand very
clearly that there is no need for interpretation. Interpretation is necessary
if things are not clear. But here the meaning is clear. “Thou shalt not
kill” is a clear instruction. Why should we interpret it?
Isn’t the eating of plants also killing?
The Vaiñëava philosophy teaches that we should not even kill
plants unnecessarily. In the Bhagavad-gétä (9.26) Kåñëa
“If someone offers Me with love and
devotion a leaf, a flower, a fruit, or a little water, I will accept it.”
We offer Kåñëa only the kind of food He demands, and
then we eat the remnants. If offering vegetarian food to Kåñëa
were sinful, then it would be Kåñëa’s sin, not ours.
But God is apäpa-viddha—sinful reactions are not applicable to Him.
He is like the sun, which is so powerful that it can purify even urine—something
impossible for us to do. Kåñëa is also like a king, who
may order a murderer to be hanged but who himself is beyond punishment
because he is very powerful. Eating food first offered to the Lord is also
something like a soldier’s killing during wartime. In a war, when the commander
orders a man to attack, the obedient soldier who kills the enemy will get
a medal. But if the same soldier kills someone on his own, he will be punished.
Similarly, when we eat only prasäda [the remnants of food offered
to Kåñëa], we do not commit any sin. This is confirmed
in the Bhagavad-gétä (3.13):
yo me bhaktyä prayacchati
tad ahaà bhakty-upahåtam
bhuïjate te tv aghaà
ye pacanty ätma-käraëät
“The devotees of the Lord
are released from all kinds of sins because they eat food that is first
offered for sacrifice. Others, who prepare food for personal sense enjoyment,
verily eat only sin.”
Kåñëa cannot give permission to eat animals?
the animal kingdom. But the civilized human being, the religious human
being, is not meant to kill and eat animals. If you stop killing animals
and chant the holy name Christ, everything will be perfect. I have not
come to teach you, but only to request you to please chant the name of
God. The Bible also demands this of you. So let’s kindly cooperate and
chant, and if you have a prejudice against chanting the name Kåñëa,
then chant “Christos” or “Kåñöa”—there is no difference.
Çré Caitanya said: nämnäm akäri bahudhä
nija-sarva-çaktiù. “God has millions and millions of names,
and because there is no difference between God’s name and Himself, each
one of these names has the same potency as God.” Therefore, even if you
accept designations like “Hindu,” “Christian,” or “Muhammadan,” if you
simply chant the name of God found in your own scriptures, you will attain
the spiritual platform. Human life is meant for self-realization—to learn
how to love God. That is the actual beauty of man. Whether you discharge
this duty as a Hindu, a Christian, or a Muhammadan, it doesn’t matter—but
to a string of 108 meditation beads]: We always have these beads, just
as you have your rosary. You are chanting, but why don’t the other Christians
also chant? Why should they miss this opportunity as human beings? Cats
and dogs cannot chant, but we can, because we have a human tongue. If we
chant the holy names of God, we cannot lose anything; on the contrary,
we gain greatly. My disciples practice chanting Hare Kåñëa
constantly. They could also go to the cinema or do so many other things,
but they have given everything up. They eat neither fish nor meat nor eggs,
they don’t take intoxicants, they don’t drink, they don’t smoke, they don’t
partake in gambling, they don’t speculate, and they don’t maintain illicit
sexual connections. But they do chant the holy name of God. If you would
like to cooperate with us, then go to the churches and chant, “Christ,”
“Kåñöa,” or “Kåñëa.” What could be
Father Emmanuel: There
is none. For my part, I would be glad to join you.
we are speaking with you as a representative of the Christian church. Instead
of keeping the churches closed, why not give them to us? We would chant
the holy name of God there twenty-four hours a day. In many places we have
bought churches that were practically closed because no one was going there.
In London I saw hundreds of churches that were closed or used for mundane
purposes. We bought one such church in Los Angeles. It was sold because
no one came there, but if you visit this same church today, you will see
thousands of people. Any intelligent person can understand what God is
in five minutes; it doesn’t require five hours.
the people do not. Their disease is that they don’t want to understand.
Visitor: I think understanding
God is not a question of intelligence, but a question of humility.
means intelligence. The humble and meek own the kingdom of God. This is
stated in the Bible, is it not? But the philosophy of the rascals is that
everyone is God, and today this idea has become popular. Therefore no one
is humble and meek. If everyone thinks that he is God, why should he be
humble and meek? Therefore I teach my disciples how to become humble and
meek. They always offer their respectful obeisances in the temple and to
the spiritual master, and in this way they make advancement. The qualities
of humbleness and meekness lead very quickly to spiritual realization.
In the Vedic scriptures it is said, “To those who have firm faith in God
and the spiritual master, who is His representative, the meaning of the
Vedic scriptures is revealed.”
But shouldn’t this humility be offered to everyone else, also?
Yes, but there are two kinds of respect: special and ordinary. Çré
Kåñëa Caitanya taught that we shouldn’t expect honor
for ourselves, but should always respect everyone else, even if he is disrespectful
to us. But special respect should be given to God and His pure devotee.
Father Emmanuel: Yes, I agree.
I think the Christian priests should cooperate with the Kåñëa
consciousness movement. They should chant the name Christ or Christos and
should stop condoning the slaughter of animals. This program follows the
teachings of the Bible; it is not my philosophy. Please act accordingly
and you will see how the world situation will change.
Father Emmanuel: I
thank you very much.
The spiritual leader of the Hare
Kåñëa movement here recognizes Lord Jesus Christ as “the
son of God, the representative of God... our guru... our spiritual master,”
yet he has some sharp words for those who currently claim to be Christ’s
Christ Was a Guru
states that any bona fide preacher of God consciousness must have the qualities
of titikñä (tolerance) and karuëä (compassion). In
the character of Lord Jesus Christ we find both these qualities. He was
so tolerant that even while he was being crucified, he didn’t condemn anyone.
And he was so compassionate that he prayed to God to forgive the very persons
who were trying to kill him. (Of course, they could not actually kill him.
But they were thinking that he could be killed, so they were committing
a great offense.) As Christ was being crucified he prayed, “Father, forgive
them. They know not what they are doing.”
of God consciousness is a friend to all living beings. Lord Jesus Christ
exemplified this by teaching, “Thou shalt not kill.” But the Christians
like to misinterpret this instruction. They think the animals have no soul,
and therefore they think they can freely kill billions of innocent animals
in the slaughterhouses. So although there are many persons who profess
to be Christians, it would be very difficult to find one who strictly follows
the instructions of Lord Jesus Christ.
A Vaiñëava is unhappy
to see the suffering of others. Therefore, Lord Jesus Christ agreed to
be crucified—to free others from their suffering. But his followers are
so unfaithful that they have decided, “Let Christ suffer for us, and we’ll
go on committing sin.” They love Christ so much that they think, “My dear
Christ, we are very weak. We cannot give up our sinful activities. So you
please suffer for us.”
taught, “Thou shalt not kill.” But his followers have now decided, “Let
us kill anyway,” and they open big, modern, scientific slaughterhouses.
“If there is any sin, Christ will suffer for us.” This is a most abominable
take the sufferings for the previous sins of his devotees. But first they
have to be sane: “Why should I put Jesus Christ into suffering for my sins?
Let me stop my sinful activities.”
Suppose a man—the favorite son
of his father—commits a murder. And suppose he thinks, “If there is any
punishment coming, my father can suffer for me.” Will the law allow it?
When the murderer is arrested and says, “No, no. You can release me and
arrest my father; I am his pet son,” will the police officials comply with
that fool’s request? He committed the murder, but he thinks his father
should suffer the punishment! Is that a sane proposal? “No. You have committed
the murder; you must be hanged.” Similarly, when you commit sinful activities,
you must suffer—not Jesus Christ. This is God’s law.
was such a great personality—the son of God, the representative of God.
He had no fault. Still, he was crucified. He wanted to deliver God consciousness,
but in return they crucified him—they were so thankless. They could not
appreciate his preaching. But we appreciate him and give him all honor
as the representative of God.
the message that Christ preached was just according to his particular time,
place, and country, and just suited for a particular group of people. But
certainly he is the representative of God. Therefore we adore Lord Jesus
Christ and offer our obeisances to him.
Once, in Melbourne,
a group of Christian ministers came to visit me. They asked, “What is your
idea of Jesus Christ?” I told them, “He is our guru. He is preaching God
consciousness, so he is our spiritual master.” The ministers very much
anyone who is preaching God’s glories must be accepted as a guru. Jesus
Christ is one such great personality. We should not think of him as an
ordinary human being. The scriptures say that anyone who considers the
spiritual master to be an ordinary man has a hellish mentality. If Jesus
Christ were an ordinary man, then he could not have delivered God consciousness.
Shalt Not Kill” or
Jesus Christ said, “Thou shalt not kill.” So why is it that the Christian
people are engaged in animal killing?
“Thou Shalt Not Murder”?
At a monastic retreat near Paris,
in July of 1973, Çréla Prabhupäda talked with Cardinal
Jean Danielou: “... the Bible does not simply say, ‘Do not kill the human
being.’ It says broadly, ‘Thou shalt not kill.’... why do you interpret
this to suit your own convenience?”
Certainly in Christianity it is forbidden to kill, but we believe that
there is a difference between the life of a human being and the life of
the beasts. The life of a human being is sacred because man is made in
the image of God; therefore, to kill a human being is forbidden.
But the Bible does not simply say, “Do not kill the human being.” It says
broadly, “Thou shalt not kill.”
We believe that only human life is sacred.
That is your interpretation. The commandment is “Thou shalt not kill.”
It is necessary for man to kill animals in order to have food to eat.
No. Man can eat grains, vegetables, fruits, and milk.
Human beings are meant to eat vegetarian food. The tiger does not come
to eat your fruits. His prescribed food is animal flesh. But man’s food
is vegetables, fruits, grains, and milk products. So how can you say that
animal killing is not a sin?
We believe it is a question of motivation. If the killing of an animal
is for giving food to the hungry, then it is justified.
But consider the cow: we drink her milk; therefore, she is our mother.
Do you agree?
So if the cow is your mother, how can you support killing her? You take
the milk from her, and when she’s old and cannot give you milk, you cut
her throat. Is that a very humane proposal? In India those who are meat-eaters
are advised to kill some lower animals like goats, pigs, or even buffalo.
But cow killing is the greatest sin. In preaching Kåñëa
consciousness we ask people not to eat any kind of meat, and my disciples
strictly follow this principle. But if, under certain circumstances, others
are obliged to eat meat, then they should eat the flesh of some lower animal.
Don’t kill cows. It is the greatest sin. And as long as a man is sinful,
he cannot understand God. The human being’s main business is to understand
God and to love Him. But if you remain sinful, you will never be able to
understand God—what to speak of loving Him.
I think that perhaps this is not an essential point. The important thing
is to love God. The practical commandments can vary from one religion to
So, in the Bible God’s practical commandment is that you cannot kill; therefore
killing cows is a sin for you.
God says to the Indians that killing is not good, and he says to the Jews
No, no. Jesus Christ taught, “Thou shalt not kill.” Why do you interpret
this to suit your own convenience?
Cardinal Danielou: But
Jesus allowed the sacrifice of the Paschal Lamb.
But he never maintained a slaughterhouse.
[Laughs.] No, but he did eat meat.
When there is no other food, someone may eat meat in order to keep from
starving. That is another thing. But it is most sinful to regularly maintain
slaughterhouses just to satisfy your tongue. Actually, you will not even
have a human society until this cruel practice of maintaining slaughterhouses
is stopped. And although animal killing may sometimes be necessary for
survival, at least the mother animal, the cow, should not be killed. That
is simply human decency. In the Kåñëa consciousness movement
our practice is that we don’t allow the killing of any animals. Kåñëa
says, patraà puñpaà phalaà toyaà yo
me bhaktyä prayacchati: “Vegetables, fruits, milk, and grains should
be offered to Me in devotion.” (Bhagavad-gétä 9.26) We take
only the remnants of Kåñëa’s food (prasädam). The
trees offer us many varieties of fruits, but the trees are not killed.
Of course, one living entity is food for another living entity, but that
does not mean you can kill your mother for food. Cows are innocent; they
give us milk. You take their milk—and then kill them in the slaughterhouse.
This is sinful.
Prabhupäda, Christianity’s sanction of meat-eating is based on the
view that lower species of life do not have a soul like the human being’s.
That is foolishness. First of all, we have to understand the evidence of
the soul’s presence within the body. Then we can see whether the human
being has a soul and the cow does not. What are the different characteristics
of the cow and the man? If we find a difference in characteristics, then
we can say that in the animal there is no soul. But if we see that the
animal and the human being have the same characteristics, then how can
you say that the animal has no soul? The general symptoms are that the
animal eats, you eat; the animal sleeps, you sleep; the animal mates, you
mate; the animal defends, and you defend. Where is the difference?
We admit that in the animal there may be the same type of biological existence
as in men, but there is no soul. We believe that the soul is a human soul.
Our Bhagavad-gétä says sarva-yoniñu, “In all species
of life the soul exists.” The body is like a suit of clothes. You have
black clothes; I am dressed in saffron clothes. But within the dress you
are a human being, and I am also a human being. Similarly, the bodies of
the different species are just like different types of dress. There are
soul, a part and parcel of God. Suppose a man has two sons, not equally
meritorious. One may be a Supreme Court judge and the other may be a common
laborer, but the father claims both as his sons. He does not make the distinction
that the son who is a judge is very important and the worker-son is not
important. And if the judge-son says, “My dear father, your other son is
useless; let me cut him up and eat him,” will the father allow this?
Cardinal Danielou: Certainly
not, but the idea that all life is part of the life of God is difficult
for us to admit. There is a great difference between human life and animal
That difference is due to the development of consciousness. In the human
body there is developed consciousness. Even a tree has a soul, but a tree’s
consciousness is not very developed. If you cut a tree it does not resist.
Actually, it does resist, but only to a very small degree. There is a scientist
named Jagadish Chandra Bose who has made a machine which shows that trees
and plants are able to feel pain when they are cut. And we can see directly
that when someone comes to kill an animal, it resists, it cries, it makes
a horrible sound. So it is a matter of the development of consciousness.
But the soul is there within all living beings.
But metaphysically, the life of man is sacred. Human beings think on a
higher platform than the animals do.
What is that higher platform? The animal eats to maintain his body, and
you also eat in order to maintain your body. The cow eats grass in the
field, and the human being eats meat from a huge slaughterhouse full of
modern machines. But just because you have big machines and a ghastly scene,
while the animal simply eats grass, this does not mean that you are so
advanced that only within your body is there a soul and that there is not
a soul within the body of the animal. That is illogical. We can see that
the basic characteristics are the same in the animal and the human being.
But only in human beings do we find a metaphysical search for the meaning
Yes. So metaphysically search out why you believe that there is no soul
within the animal—that is metaphysics. If you are thinking metaphysically,
that’s all right. But if you are thinking like an animal, then what is
the use of your metaphysical study? Metaphysical means “above the physical”
or, in other words, “spiritual.” In the Bhagavad-gétä Kåñëa
says, sarva-yoniñu kaunteya: “In every living being there is a spirit
soul.” That is metaphysical understanding. Now either you accept Kåñëa’s
teachings as metaphysical, or you’ll have to take a third-class fool’s
opinion as metaphysical. Which do you accept?
But why does God create some animals who eat other animals? There is a
fault in the creation, it seems.
It is not a fault. God is very kind. If you want to eat animals, then He’ll
give you full facility. God will give you the body of a tiger in your next
life so that you can eat flesh very freely. “Why are you maintaining slaughterhouses?
I’ll give you fangs and claws. Now eat.” So the meat-eaters are awaiting
such punishment. The animal-eaters become tigers, wolves, cats, and dogs
in their next life—to get more facility.
Incidently Cardinal Danielou was found several days later dead
at the house of a known prostitute.
The names of God are
One and the same as He is.
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Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare