By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda
Religion is one. There cannot be two religions. If God is one… And what is religion? Religion means the law given by God. That is religion. This is a simple definition. “What is religion?” If somebody says… They will say, “Religion means this; religion means that.” No. The simple definition of religion is “the law of God.” Dharmam tu sāksād bhagavat-pranītam [SB 6.3.19].
Just like law. Law means the order given by the state. That is law. Your order is not law, or my order is not law. But when the state orders, “Keep to the right,” you must keep your car to the right side. Or the state orders that “Keep your car to the left side.” In Europe, and somewhere, it is right side … So, so, the, according to the state… You cannot say, “Why somewhere it is left side, and somewhere right side?” No. It may be. Whatever it is, but because it is the state order, you have to abide by it. You cannot say that “I was driving my car in India to the left side. Why shall I drive on the right side?” Sometimes they feel inconvenienced. But no, you have to, because that is the state order.
So similarly, as the law means state order, similarly, religion means God’s order. That’s all, simple definition. dharmam tu sāksād bhagavat-pranītam [SB 6.3.19]. Nobody knows what is dharma, neither the human being, nor the demigods, nor big, big sages, saintly persons; nor philosophers. Nobody knows what is religion. Dharmasya tattvam nihitam guhāyām mahājano yena gatah sa panthāh [Cc. Madhya 17.186]. Mahājana means those who are authorized person by God. One who knows what is the law of God is a mahājana. So a guru is mahājana because he knows what is religion and what is the law given by God. Therefore he’s mahājana. How he has become mahājana? Because he is following the previous mahājana. That’s all. It is not difficult.
So dharma means the codes or the law given by God. That is dharma. And our life is meant for dharma. But unfortunately we have created so many dharmas. But there cannot be so many dharmas. There cannot be. Suppose if gold… Gold is gold, pure gold. There cannot be… Just like they have made twenty-carat gold, fourteen-carat gold, sixteen-carat gold. That is mixture. That is not pure gold. We are preaching, “If you say it is religion, it is pure religion, not carat.” “Fourteen-carat religions” or “Twenty-carat religion,” no. Real, pure religion. What is that pure religion? Sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekam śaranam… [Bg. 18.66]. We are teaching, “Just surrender to Krishna.”
Krishna consciousness – That is pure religion, original gold, no carat gold. Therefore our Vrndāvana dāsa Thākura has said very clearly, prthivīte yāhā kichu dharma nāme cale: “Whatever is going on, all over the world, in the name of dharma,”bhāgavata kahe tāhā paripūrna chhale “according to the opinion of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, all this rascaldom is simply cheating.” Now, if you say that, everyone will be rebellious. But that is the fact, because if dharma means the order of God, then what is God’s order? That “You become My devotee.” Man-manā bhava mad-bhakto mad-yājī mām namaskuru [Bg. 18.65]. Four things: “You always think of Me, and you become My devotee, you offer your obeisances,” man-manā bhava mad-bhaktah, “and worship Me.”
So we are teaching this real religion. Here is Deity, Krishna. So we are thinking of Krishna, “Hare Krishna.” We are worshiping Deity, Krishna. There is no difference between Lord Krishna and Deity. He’s Krishna. And we are offering obeisances. Therefore it is real religion because we are strictly following the laws of God. Anyābhilāsitā… We have no other business. So therefore this is real religion, real culture, real society—everything real. Because God is real, anything in connection with God, according to His instruction, that is real. All other things are imitation. So always remember that if somebody takes us as religionists, yes, we are religionists, but pure religionists. If somebody says socialist, we are pure socialist. If somebody says we are diplomats, politicians, yes, we are pure politicians.
What is “pure politicians”? Politics requires violence – To annihilate the demons and give protection. Politics means two things. The state, government, what is that? Government gives protection to the good citizen, and those who are rogues, punish them. Law and order. Two things are there: maintenance and law and order. So similarly, our Krishna consciousness is also the same thing. But so far we are concerned, because we are not in political power… Otherwise we have, would have followed the principles of Krishna.
But Caitanya Mahāprabhu has shown us the way – that we kill the demons in a different way. We kill the demons in this way: By chanting Hare Krishna mantra, we purify him so that his demonic activities are stopped. That is also another way of killing. He stops his demonic activities. That is Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s mercy, that He did not kill Jagāi-Mādhāi. Although He wanted to kill them because they insulted Vaisnava, but still, Nityānanda Prabhu reminded Him that “In this incarnation, You promised that You’ll not kill. So have mercy upon them.” So their demonic activities were killed. That is also killing. Caitanya Mahāprabhu accepted Jagāi-Mādhāi on this condition, that “You have to stop your sinful activities. Whatever you have done, that is done.” So we make this condition. The demonic activities, we say, you have to stop. Whatever is done is done. Strictly following Caitanya Mahāprabhu, there is no consideration. Because you were previously a demon; therefore you cannot become a Vaisnava—no. Anyone can become Vaisnava provided he stops his demonic activities. Anyone. Anyone is welcome provided he accepts this philosophy, sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekam śaranam vraja [Bg. 18.66].
[An excerpt from a lecture on the Srimad Bhagavatam 1.8.41 delivered in Mayapur, West Bengal, India on Oct 21, 1974]