Inculturation: The Frank Morales Jesus videos – Vijaya Rajiva

Gods of Hinduism

Hindu polytheism and the worship of murtis (images) cannot be wished away. The creation of a sanitised Rishi tradition is a travesty of the Vedic heritage for the Hindus, a heritage which is both Sruti and Smriti. – Dr. Vijaya Rajiva

Dr. Frank Morales aka AcharyajiThe U-turn that Dr. Frank Morales took in glorifying the historical Jesus (Part 2 of the  video ‘Jesus the Dharma Master’ (2008)) caused some consternation in the Hindu Samaj. The present writer wrote about it in two articles ‘From Sanatana Dharma to Jesus‘ and  ‘The Enemy at the Gates‘. Dr. Frank Morales, a brilliant and erudite Hindu of European descent (he is described as of European descent, specifically Spanish and Italian in some of the biographical sketches about him) started an unusual career of endorsing Sanatana Dharma (Hinduism), especially in his 2005 article ‘A Philosophical Critique of Radical Universalism‘ where he took to task the Indian Neo-Vedantins who since the 19th century in India, tried to water down the central message of Hinduism by placating the white sahibs and holding forth that all religions are the same. They tried to present this as the traditional attitude of Hinduism. Not so, says Morales, the acharyas of Hinduism have roundly debated and defeated the non Hindu religions as being inferior to Hinduism. In Dr. Morales’s own view Hinduism is a unique religion and is superior to others. The reader is referred to his extremely interesting and provocative article (mentioned above).

A brief sketch of his life and achievements to date may be useful. At the very young age of 14 he visited a Hindu temple and was struck by the devotional aspects of theistic Hinduism. In 1986 he was ordained as a spiritual teacher (acharya) by a famous Vaishnavite acharya who had been the guru of Sri Prabhudpada the founder of ISKON. His academic career can be briefly summed up:

  • B.A. in Philosophy and Theology from the Loyola University of Chicago (1994)
  • M. A. from the same place in South Asian Languages and Literature(1999)
  • Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin in South Asian Languages & Religion (2002)
  • In 2010 his doctoral dissertation was published as The Vedic Way of Knowing God

Srila Bhakti Raksak Sridhar Dev Goswami MaharajHe is now known as Sri Dharma Pravartaka Acharya and was the resident acharya of the Hindu temple of Nebraska (2007-2009).

He is also the founding head of International Sanatana Dharma Society. He has publised numerous articles and books . He has been endorsed by some leading North American exponents of Hinduism such as Dr. David Frawley (aka Vamadeva Shastri). In 2005 he wrote the article ‘A Philosophical Critique of Radical Universalism’ (as mentioned above), which brought him immediately to the Hindu Samaj’s attention.

Then in 2008 he produced the Part Two of the video on Jesus the Dharma Master, in which he glorifies the historical Jesus as a great Dharma Master, obviously alongside of the Hindu Rishis. The present writer and other Hindus noticed the contradiction in his trajectory. His claim that these talks (captured in the videos) were for Christians whom he hoped to bring around to Sanatana Dharma sounds hollow. This is indeed somewhat of a questionable argument and can only be verified if follow-up studies were done as to whether these listeners returned to the Church (as the Church gladly hoped) or they went on to take up Sanatana Dharma. As a strategy it is not helpful to the Hindu Samaj, which is already under attack from evangelical and Catholic Christianity, both in the scale of conversions (especially in the homeland of Hinduism) and in the ongoing process of Inculturation, a process by which the Church insinuates itself into local culture and traditions with a view to eventually overcoming them.

Fr. Robert de Nobili SJThe present writer is of the opinion that Dr. Morales is an Inculturator (with due respect) of a refined and not so easily recognisable category, partly because he does not believe himself to be so, and seems to be in earnest in his expositions of Hinduism, and mainly because of the appropriation of the Vedic heritage and the Vaishnava tradition. He can be placed alongside of Dr. Francis Xavier Clooney, the Jesuit priest and scholar who teaches at Harvard university. The latter is a polite and well spoken individual who is also a scholar in Hindu Vaishnavism; neverthless he is a committed Jesuit for whom the Vatican’s message that Jesus Christ is the final saviour and that Christ’s message is to be actively propagated cannot be abandoned. Frank Morales at first glance is somewhat different in that he has been initiated into Vaishnavite Hinduism by no less a personage than the acharya mentioned above.

Furthermore he has never been a Catholic (according to his own statements). And judged from the honours bestowed on him by some sections (not all) of the Hindu diaspora, he seems to be well on his way to being a confirmed Hindu.

But does all this add up to negate the idea of his being an Inculturator in the time-honoured Catholic tradition since the 17th century when Robert de Nobili insinuated himself into Hindu culture in order to better carry out his design of spreading the Gospel? Perhaps Dr. Morales’s work can be better understood in the context of three well-known Inculturators Fr. Bede Griffiths OSB, Swami Abhishiktananda (original name Fr. Henri le Saux OSB) and Fr. Raimon Panikkar.

Fr. Bede Griffiths OSBBede Griffiths (1906-1993) who settled permanently in India was born Richard Griffiths and took the name of Swami Dayananda. He was a British-born Benedictine monk who lived in ashrams in South India and became a noted yogi (so his biographical accounts tell us). He became a leading thinker in the development of the dialogue between Christianity and Hindusim. He was also part of the Christian ashram movement. For all practical purposes he became an Indian Christian. Neverthless, his goal had always been the Christianisation of India and indeed the whole world! He was therefore a devout Christian with an agenda. In an interview he gave a year before his death, in response to a question from the interviewer as to how Christian spirituality will renew itself, this is what he had to say:

” . . . I think the way I see it is the Gospel came out of Palestine into the Roman empire, and all our Christian spirituality is the result of this meeting of the Gospel from Jesus and the Apostles with the spiritual tradition of Greece and Rome, particularly Platonism. Nearly all the Fathers, both Greek and Latin, were Platonists, and Plato gave mystical understanding which sort of consolidated the Christian vision, and then Aristotle came later, and St. Thomas Aquinas made his great synthesis using Aristotle, but still, you know, preserving the Platonic Augustinian tradition of mysticism, and particularly Dionysius the Areopagite, the great Christian mystic. So I would say the Christian Church, the Catholic Church, so far has built up its mystical contemplative tradition on the Gospel interpreted in the light of a Platonic philosophy and experience. And now we are challenged to interpret Vedanta, Mahayana Buddhism, Sufism, of the whole oriental tradition, and to me THAT’S THE WORK OF THE NEXT THOUSAND YEARS.” (emphasis added by the present writer).

AbhishiktanandaHindu readers will recall the eerie echo of all this in the visit of Pope John Paul to India where the pontiff openly said in the third millennium India (and Asia) will be the focus of Christian evangelisation!

Henri le Saux (1910-1973) was a Benedictine monk who took the name of Abhishiktananda and lived his entire adult life in India, and set up the Catholic ashram Shantivanam in 1950 in Tamil Nadu. Here, he adopted the local rituals and traditions while performing the Catholic mass. He and his followers adopted the sannyasa robes, became vegetarians and lived a simple life. His spiritual journey included an intense engagement with Advaita Vedanta and his diaries reflect his anguish at having to give up his Christina faith. In the end, however, he returned to his Christian faith and made Christ the central figure of mystical experiences which included the union of the soul with the Trinity. As with Bede Griffiths he made mysticism into the common ground with Hinduism and Christianity, but emphasised the superior role of the Christian experience in mysticism. The Trinity experience is different and superior to the Vedantic experience of Atman-Brahman.

Fr. Raimon PanikkarLikewise, his friend Raimon Panikkar, the Roman Catholic priest (1918-2010) and scholar of comparative religion, was greatly involved in that aspect of Vedanta which could be bent to his Christian agenda. His writings include such works as ‘The Unknown Christ of Hinduism‘ (1964). He was also an advocate of Hindu Christian dialogue ( at this stage one wonders why any self-respecting Hindu would be enticed into the garden of interfaith dialogue!).

Hence, whether the entry point is Vaishnavite Hinduism (Francis Xavier Clooney) or Advaita (Bede Griffiths, Raimon Panikkar, Abhishiktananda) their commonality is that in the end their refined Inculturation serves the purpose of the Christianisation of India, even if it takes another thousand years! Of course, Hindus living in India know that this is an ongoing process, and the frenetic conversion activity is all too visible on a daily basis because of the coercion, bribery and superior funds coming from abroad. Needless to say, the northeastern provinces have fallen to the conversion process.

Priest-kingWhat is curious is that the above account reveals that all four of the figures are either engaged in Vasihanavism or Advaita. They have no time or interest in the Hinduism of the aam admi or the traditional acharyas, both of which are Vedic in origin. Hindu polytheism and the worship of murtis (images) cannot be wished away. The creation of a sanitised Rishi tradition is a travesty of the Vedic heritage for the Hindus, a heritage which is both Sruti and Smriti. The Christian Inculturators can never accept the polytheism of Hindu worship and the worship of murtis. Their sanitised version of the Sruti, the Vedas, is also a truncated version of the same. The Rig Veda is an invocation of the terrestrial, atmospheric and cosmic deities and cannot be forced into the procrustean bed of Abrahamic monotheism. All the Vedic rituals preserved from that time (as in the Adirathram of the Kerala Nambudiris to cite one example) are the worship of those powers, in this case Agni.

What can be said of the above four figures can also be said of Frank Morales, with due respect. The globalisation of Hinduism and the curious detaching of it from the living history and traditions of Hinduism and refining the Vedas to the point of their obliteration in some universal Divine message, the abandoning of the Gods and Goddesses of the Vedas in favour of a universal something euphemistically called the Divine, smacks of the bringing in by the back door the monotheistic faith of the Abrahamic religions, their one god. Indeed Abhishiktanandas’s refinement of this union of the Trinity must be carefully read to understand that Jesus, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit are both one and yet many.

A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami PrabhupadaIn addition, the so-called ‘theism’ of the Hindu Vaishnavite tradition lends itself easily to distortions. Both Krishna and Krishna Consciousness can be manipulated by those with an agenda. And it must be pointed out that Frank Morales ends his Jesus videos with Jai Krishna! Readers who have interpretation of the Bhagavad Gita by Sri Prabhupada will remember that the Swami seemingly rejects the avatars of Hinduism. Krishna is not an avatar. He is the supreme Godhead. Here again, the nuances of the Swami’s interpretations can easily be distorted to form the basis of a reintroduction of the Jesus figure into the Hindu pantheon. And Krishna Consciousness can also be easily inculturated into the worship of the Trinity.

Frank Morales is also curiously averse to using the word Hinduism. His explanation is that the word is not found in any of the traditional scriptures. While no Hindu could object to the use of Sanatana Dharma (the eternal Dharma) the lack of grounding in the history of the subcontinent is not to be encouraged. The Sindhu river’s name was changed to Hindu because the Persian invaders could not readily pronounce the word and changed it to Hindu. And the British changed it to the greek Indus. All this is well-known.

However, what has been neglected until recently in this narrative is that a mighty river was called the Saraswati in Vedic times. The Rig Veda mentions it at least 78 times. The river disappeared owing to techtonic shifts after the Vedic period. Contemporary Indic scholars and researches in the field have discovered through satellite photography the remains of a dried up river bed flowing from north to south and has identified it as the Sarasvati river. Hence, the name now for the Indus valley civilisation is the Sindhu Saraswati civilisation.

Hindus should not be shy of holding on to the word ‘Hinduism’ and the historical and sociological associations which are being ironed out in the globalisation of Hinduism. The Hindu Samaj should take note of this new trend.

»  Dr. Vijaya Rajiva is a political philosopher who taught for several years in the part-time faculty of a Canadian university. She is now retired and lives in Canada with her husband who is also an academic. Since retirement her interests are in Indian history, culture and politics. She holds a B.A. Hons. & M. Litt. in Literature (University of Madras, India), an M.A. in Philosophy (University of Madras, India), an M.A. in Political Science (McGill University, Canada) and a Ph.D. in Humanities in Political Science, Philosophy, Political Economy & History (Concordia University, Canada).

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3 Responses

  1. Dr. Rajiva, we can hardly blame the foreign shishyas for doing their Jesus number when their gurus, all of them sons of the soil of Bharat, are also promoting Jesus to the skies.

    Srila Prabhupada has even identified Prophet Muhammad as a kind of avatar!

    Have you ever heard of anything more ridiculous!

    Srila Prabhupada sat in Brindavan for decades before migrating to the US. He is supposed to be some kind of Hindu saint and jnani. But he has proved beyond doubt that however learned and saintly these Hindus gurus are, they are extraordinarily dumb when it comes to the Abrahamic religions and their prophets.

  2. The question is: Why are Hindu gurus and Srivaishnavas at that, promoting this wicked character?

  3. Srila Prabhupada’s views on Jesus taken from the Bhakta Handbook, Chapter 27 called “Krishna and Jesus”.

    Many people often wonder what is the view of Lord Jesus Christ in the Krishna consciousness movement.

    Srila Prabhupada, the foremost exponent of the Krishna consciousness movement explains that Jesus is Krishna’s representative, son of God, and spiritual master.

    Below are excerpts from Srila Prabhupada’s books, lectures, and conversations about Jesus Christ and his
    relationship with Krsna.

    “If one loves Krishna, he must love Lord Jesus also. And if one perfectly loves Jesus he must love Krishna too. If he says, “Why shall I love Krishna? I shall love Jesus,” then he has no knowledge. And if one says, “Why shall I love Jesus? I shall love Krishna”, then he has no knowledge either. If one understands Krishna, then he will understand Jesus. If one understands Jesus, you’ll understand Krishna too” (Srila Prabhupada – Room conversation with Allen Ginsberg, May 12, 1969 / Columbus – Ohio)

    As Lord Jesus Christ said, we should hate the sin, not the sinner. That is a very nice statement, because the sinner is under illusion. He is mad. If we hate him, how can we deliver him? Therefore, those who are advanced devotees, who are really servants of God, do not hate anyone. When Lord Jesus Christ was being crucified, he said, “My God, forgive them. They know not what they do.” This is the proper attitude of an advanced devotee. He understands that the conditioned souls cannot be hated, because they have become mad due to their materialistic way of thinking. In this Krsna consciousness movement, there is no question of hating anyone. Everyone is welcomed to come and chant Hare Krsna, take krsna-prasada, listen to the philosophy of Bhagavad-gita, and try to rectify material, conditioned life. This is the essential program of Krsna consciousness. (Path of Perfection Chapter 3: Learning How to See God)

    Christian, Muhammadan, Hindu-it doesn’t matter. If he is simply speaking on behalf of God, he is a guru. Lord Jesus Christ, for instance. He canvassed people, saying, “Just try to love God.” Anyone-it doesn’t matter who-be he Hindu, Muslim, or Christian, is a guru if he convinces people to love God. That is the test. The guru never says, “I am God,” or “I will make you God.” The real guru says, “I am a servant of God, and I will make you a servant of God also.” It doesn’t matter how the guru is dressed. As Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, “Whoever can impart knowledge about Krsna is a spiritual master.” A genuine spiritual master simply tries to get people to become devotees of Krsna, or God. He has no other business.(Science of Self Realization Chapter 2: Choosing a Spiritual Master)

    So Lord Jesus Christ said, “My Lord, hallowed be Thy name.” He wants to glorify the name of the Lord. And some people says that there is no name of God. How? If Lord Jesus Christ says “Hallowed by Thy name,” there must be name. The name is there, but he did not pronounce it because the people at that time will not be able to understand or maybe some reason, but he says there is name. So we are making this propaganda, Krsna consciousness movement, the “Hallowed by Thy name. My Lord Krsna, the Personality of Godhead, let Your holy name be glorified.” This is our movement. It is not a sectarian…(Lecture: Bhagavad Gita 3.27 Melbourne June 27, 1974)

    Sometimes Sri Krsna descends Himself, and sometimes He sends His representative. The major religions of the world-Christian, Hindu, Buddhist and Moslem-believe in some supreme authority or personality coming down from the kingdom of God. In the Christian religion, Jesus Christ claimed to be the son of God and to be coming from the kingdom of God to reclaim conditioned souls. As followers of Bhagavad-gita, we admit this claim to be true. So basically there is no difference of opinion. In details there may be differences due to differences in culture, climate and people, but the basic principle remains the same-that is, God or His representatives come to reclaim conditioned souls. (Raja Vidya Chapter 6 :Knowledge of Krsna’s Appearance and Activities)

    Just like Lord Jesus Christ. He was so badly treated and still he was thinking, “Father, they do not know what they are doing. Please excuse.” This is suhrdah. He is praying to God This is sadhu, mahatma. Suhrdah prasanta. Not that… In India there are examples like Haridasa Thakura, Prahlada Maharaja. And the Western countries also, Lord Jesus Christ, he is saktyavesa-avatara, God’s son. And he tolerated so much. These are the examples of mahatma. Don’t misunderstand that we are preaching that mahatmas are only in India. No. By the order of the Supreme Personality of Godhead there are mahatmas even amongst the birds, even amongst the beasts, even amongst the lower than animals. Because this Krsna consciousness movement is going on in different places, in different circumstances.(Srimad Bhagavatam 5.5.3 –vrndavana Oct 25, 1976)

    Conversation with Father Emmanuel – In 1974, near ISKCON’s center in Frankfurt am Main, West Germany, Srila Prabhupada and several of his disciples took a morning walk with father Emmanuel Jungclaussen, a Benedictine monk from Niederalteich Monastery. Noticing that Srila Prabhupada 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.

    Conversation with Cardinal Danielou – “Thou Shalt Not Kill” or “Thou Shalt Not Murder”?

    At a monastic retreat near Paris, in July of 1973, Srila Prabhupada 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?”

    From Perfect Questions, Perfect Answers – Discussions between Peace Corps Worker Bob Cohen and His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

    Jesus Christ Was a Guru – The spiritual leader of the Hare Krsna 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 followers…

    A devotee of Krsna is friendly to everyone. Therefore it is said here that he has no enemy (nirvairah). How is this? A devotee situated in Krsna consciousness knows that only devotional service to Krsna can relieve a person from all the problems of life. He has personal experience of this, and therefore he wants to introduce this system, Krsna consciousness, into human society. There are many examples in history of devotees of the Lord who risked their lives for the spreading of God consciousness. The favorite example is Lord Jesus Christ. He was crucified by the nondevotees, but he sacrificed his life for spreading God consciousness. Of course, it would be superficial to understand that he was killed. Similarly, in India also there are many examples, such as Thakura Haridasa and Prahlada Maharaja. Why such risk? Because they wanted to spread Krsna consciousness, and it is difficult. A Krsna conscious person knows that if a man is suffering it is due to his forgetfulness of his eternal relationship with Krsna. Therefore, the highest benefit one can render to human society is relieving one’s neighbor from all material problems. In such a way, a pure devotee is engaged in the service of the Lord. Now, we can imagine how merciful Krsna is to those engaged in His service, risking everything for Him. Therefore it is certain that such persons must reach the supreme planet after leaving the body. (Chapter 11 Bhagavad gita text 55 purport)

    HERE IS SOME MORE …

    Christ and Krishna – the Name is the Same by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

    When an Indian person calls on Krishna, he often says, Krsta. Krsta is a Sanskrit word meaning attraction. So when we address God as Christ, Krsta, or Krishna we indicate the same all-attractive Supreme Personality of Godhead. When Jesus said, Our Father who art in heaven hallowed be Thy name, the name of God was Krsta or Krishna.

    Srila Prabhupada: What is the meaning of the word Christ?

    Father Emmanuel: Christ comes from the Greek word Christos, meaning “the anointed one”.

    Srila Prabhupada: Christos is the Greek version of the word Krishna.

    Father Emmanuel: This is very interesting.

    Srila Prabhupada: When an Indian person calls on Krishna, he often says, “Krsta”. Krsta is a Sanskrit word meaning “attraction”. So when we address God as “Christ”, “Krsta”, or “Krishna” we indicate the same all-attractive Supreme Personality of Godhead. When Jesus said, ” Our Father who art in heaven hallowed be Thy name,” the name of God was Krsta or Krishna. Do you agree?

    Father Emmanuel: 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”.

    Srila Prabhupada: Yes. “Christ” is another way of saying Krsta and Krsta is another way of pronouncing Krishna, 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 Krishna. Therefore whether you call God “Christ”, “Krsta”, or “Krishna”, ultimately you are addressing the same Supreme Personality of Godhead.

    Father Emmanuel: 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 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.

    Srila Prabhupada: Actually, it doesn’t matter — Krishna 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 maha-mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare/ Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare. Rama and Krishna are names of God and Hare is the energy of God. So when we chant the maha-mantra we address God along 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 Krishna that He may kindly deliver us from the service of the material energy and accept us into the service of the spiritual energy. This is our whole philosophy. Hare Krishna means, “O energy of God, O God (Krishna), 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 Mohammedan religions, but when we come to a religion without designations, in which we don’t think we are Hindus or Christians or Mohammedans, then we can speak of pure religion, or bhakti.

    Father Emmanuel: Mukti? [liberation from material miseries]

    Srila Prabhupada: No, bhakti. When we speak of bhakti, mukti 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 Bhagavad-gita (14.26):
    mam ca yo ‘vyabhicarena
    bhakti-yogena sevate
    sa gunan samatityaitan
    brahma-bhuyaya kalpate
    “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.”

    Father Emmanuel: Is Brahman Krishna?

    Srila Prabhupada: Krishna is Parabrahman. Brahman is realised in three aspects: as impersonal Brahman, as localised Paramatma and as personal Brahman. Krishna is personal and He is the Supreme Brahman, for God is ultimately a person. In Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.2.11), this is confirmed:
    vadanti tat tattva-vidas
    tattvam yaj-jnanam advayam
    brahmeti paramatmati
    bhagavan iti sabdyate
    “Learned transcendentalists, who know the Absolute Truth, call this nondual substance Brahman, Paramatma or Bhagavan.” The feature of the Supreme Personality is the ultimate realisation 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 renounced.

    Father Emmanuel: Yes, I agree.

    Srila Prabhupada: Because God is absolute, His name, His form and His qualities are all 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 he becomes an associate of the Supreme Lord.
    Father Emmanuel: But our understanding of the name of God is limited.

    Srila Prabhupada: Yes, we are limited, but God is unlimited. And because He is unlimited, or absolute, he has unlimited names, each if which is God. We can understand His names as much as our spiritual understanding is developed.
    What is the difference between Krishna consciousness and Christianity?

    Father Emmanuel: May I ask a question? We Christians also preach love of God, and we try to realise 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?

    Srila Prabhupada: 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.

    Srila Prabhupada: 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 are disobedient your love is not real.

    Srila Prabhupada: All over the world people don’t love God. They love their dogs. The Krishna 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 Mohammedans and all others are guilty. They have rubber-stamped themselves as Christian, Hindu or Mohammedan, but they do not obey God. This is the problem

    Visitor: Can we say in what way the Christians are disobedient?

    Srila Prabhupada: Yes. The first point is they violate the commandment “Thou shall not kill” by maintaining slaughterhouses. Do you agree that this commandment is being violated?

    Father Emmanuel: Personally, I agree.

    Srila Prabhupada: Good. So if the Christians want to love God, they must stop killing animals.

    Father Emmanuel: But isn’t the most important point…

    Srila Prabhupada: 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 the 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 it’s back part and eats with it’s 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 any more 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 scriptures as they are given , not just those that suit us. If you do not follow the first order, “Thou shall not kill,” then where is the question of love of God?

    Visitor: Christians take this commandment to be applicable to human beings, not to animals.

    Srila Prabhupada: That would mean 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. 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.

    Mathew:5:21: Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:

    Mark:10:19: Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.

    Luke:18:20: Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother.

    Romans:13:9: For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

    James:2:11: For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.

    Father Emmanuel: But in the Old Testament the commandment “Thou shall not kill” does refer to murder. And when Jesus said, “Thou shall not kill,” he extended the commandment to mean 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 shall 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.

    Srila Prabhupada: 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 shall not kill” means, “The Christians should not kill.” You may put forward interpretations in order to continue the present way of action but we understand very clearly there is no need for interpretation. Interpretation is necessary if things are not clear. “Thou shall not kill” is a clear instruction. Why should we interpret it?

    Father Emmanuel: Isn’t the eating of plants also killing?

    Srila Prabhupada: The Vaisnava philosophy teaches that we should not even kill plants unnecessarily. In the Bhagavad-gita (9.26) Krishna says:
    patram puspam phalam toyam
    yo me bhaktya prayacchati
    tad aham bhakty-upahrtam
    asnami prayatatmanah
    “If someone offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, a fruit or a little water, I will accept it.” We offer Krishna only the kind of food He demands, and then we eat the remnants. If offering vegetarian food to Krishna were sinful, then it would be Krishna’s sin, not ours. But God is apapa-vijna — 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. Krishna is also like a king, who may order a murderer to be hanged, but who himself is not subject to 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 prasada [the remnants of food offered to Krishna], we do not commit any sin. This is confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita (3.13):
    yajna-sistasinah santo
    mucyante sarva-kilbisaih
    bhunjate te tu agham papa
    ye pacanty atma-karanat
    “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.”

    Father Emmanuel: Krishna cannot give permission to eat animals?

    Srila Prabhupada: Yes — in 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 about chanting the name Krishna then chant “Christos” or “Krsta” — there is no difference. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu said: namnam akari bahu-dha nija-sarva-saktis. “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 Mohammedan, 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-realisation — 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 Mohammedan, it doesn’t matter — but do it?

    Father Emmanuel: I agree.

    Srila Prabhupada: [pointing 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 loose anything; on the contrary, we gain greatly. My disciples practice chanting Hare Krishna 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 other churches and chant, “Christ”, “Krishna” or “Krsta”. What could be the objection? Instead of keeping the churches closed, why not give them to us?

    Father Emmanuel: There is none. For my part I would be glad to join you.

    Srila Prabhupada: No. 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 the 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.

    Father Emmanuel: I understand.

    Srila Prabhupada: But 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.

    Srila Prabhupada: 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 everybody thinks 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 realisation. 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.”

    Father Emmanuel: But shouldn’t this humility be offered to everyone else also?

    Srila Prabhupada: Yes, but there are two kinds of respect: special and ordinary. Sri Krishna Caitanya taught that we shouldn’t expect honour 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.

    Srila Prabhupada: I think the Christian priests should cooperate with the Krishna consciousness movement. They should chant the name of 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: Thank you very much

    Srila Prabhupada: Hare Krishna!

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