January 14, 1970Editor Los Angeles Times
Dear Sir: With reference to your article in the Los Angeles Times dated Sunday, January 11, 1970, under the heading “Krishna Chant,” I beg to point out that the Hindu religion is perfectly based on the personal conception of God, or Vishnu. 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 Paramātmā 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 Krishna 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 Krishna 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 svāmis who came before me in this country stressed the impersonal aspect of God, without sufficient knowledge of God’s personal aspect. In the Bhagavad-gitā, therefore, it is said that only less intelligent persons consider that God is originally impersonal but assumes a form when He incarnates. The Krishna 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-gitā 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 Paramātmā 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 Krishna temples in India, and there is not a single Hindu who does not worship Krishna. Therefore, this Krishna 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 Krishna is a definite proof of his lack of knowledge in this authorized movement of Krishna 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 Krishna Movement
[An excerpt from The Science of Self-Realisation, available at all Hare Krishna Centers]ALSO READ: A Letter To My Friend Iqbal: Shankaracharya’s Impersonalism OM versus HARE KRISHNA – Which is Better? KRISHNA IS BEYOND DIRECT PERCEPTION