The Krishna Consciousness Movement Is the Genuine Vedic Way

BY: BHAKTA JOHN JAGANNATHA - 25.4 2018

On January 11, 1970, an article appeared in the Los Angeles Times on the Krsna consciousness movement. What follows are excerpts from the article and the unusual correspondence that ensued between the two authorities, A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami and Professor Staal.

Excerpt from the Los Angeles Times Article

"Dr. J. F. Staal, Professor of Philosophy and Near Eastern Languages at UC Berkeley and an instructor in Indian philosophy, believes that the Krsna sect is an authentic Indian religion and that its adherents are sincere. He attributes the Society's rapid increase in members to the tendency of today's younger generation to reject organized churchgoing while at the same time searching for fulfillment of a belief in mysticism.

"He points out, however, that persons who turn away from Christianity, Muhammadanism, and Judaism have usually lost faith with the personal god of those religions and are looking for a mystical religion without absolutes.

"'These people in the Krsna movement have turned to Hinduism, but, curiously, it is a cult that is highly personalistic,' Staal said. 'They accept a personal god, Krsna, and Christianity has that. I feel that they have transferred some of their Christian background to a Hindu sect.'

"He also feels that they spend too much time chanting to develop a philosophy. On these grounds he and others on the faculty turned down the request to grant credit for an experimental course in Krsna consciousness that will be taught during the winter quarter by Hans Kary, president of the sect's Berkeley temple."

 

Srila Prabhupada's Letter to the Los Angeles Times

Editor 
Los Angeles Times
January 14, 1970

Dear Sir: 
With reference to your article in the Los Angeles Times dated Sunday, January 11, 1970, under the heading "Krsna Chant," I beg to point out that the Hindu religion is perfectly based on the personal conception of God, or Visnu. The impersonal conception of God is a side issue, or one of the three features of God. The Absolute Truth is ultimately the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Paramatma conception is the localized aspect of His omnipresence, and the impersonal conception is the aspect of His greatness and eternity. But all these combined together make the Complete Whole.

Dr. J. F. Staal's statement that the Krsna cult is a combination of Christian and Hindu religion, as if something manufactured by concoction, is not correct. If Christian, Muhammadan, or Buddhist religions are personal, that is quite welcome. But the Krsna religion has been personal from a time long, long ago when Christian, Muhammadan, and Buddhist religions had not yet come into existence. According to the Vedic conception, religion is basically made by the personal God as His laws. Religion cannot be manufactured by man or anyone except God superior to man. Religion is the law of God only.

Unfortunately, all the svamis who came before me in this country stressed the impersonal aspect of God, without sufficient knowledge of God's personal aspect. In the Bhagavad-gita, therefore, it is said that only less intelligent persons consider that God is originally impersonal but assumes a form when He incarnates. The Krsna philosophy, however, based on the authority of the Vedas, is that originally the Absolute Truth is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. His plenary expansion is present in everyone's heart in His localized aspect, and the impersonal Brahman effulgence is the transcendental light and heat distributed everywhere.

In the Bhagavad-gita it is clearly said that the aim of the Vedic way of searching out the Absolute Truth is to find the personal God. One who is satisfied only with the other aspects of the Absolute Truth, namely the Paramatma feature or the Brahman feature, is to be considered possessed of a poor fund of knowledge. Recently we have published our Sri Isopanisad, a Vedic literature, and in this small booklet we have thoroughly discussed this point.

As far as the Hindu religion is concerned, there are millions of Krsna temples in India, and there is not a single Hindu who does not worship Krsna. Therefore, this Krsna consciousness movement is not a concocted idea. We invite all scholars, philosophers, religionists, and members of the general public to understand this movement by critical study. And if one does so seriously, one will understand the sublime position of this great movement.

The chanting process is also authorized. Professor Staal's feeling of disgust in the matter of constant chanting of the holy name of Krsna is a definite proof of his lack of knowledge in this authorized movement of Krsna consciousness. Instead of turning down the request to give Kary's course credit, he and all other learned professors of the University of California at Berkeley should patiently hear about the truth of this authorized movement so much needed at present in godless society. [Credit for the course was later established.] This is the only movement which can save the confused younger generation. I shall invite all responsible guardians of this country to understand this transcendental movement and then give us all honest facilities to spread it for everyone's benefit.

A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami 
Spiritual Master of the 
Hare Krsna Movement

cc: J. F. Staal

Download the complete exchange, published as a booklet by ISKCON Press, Boston