ISKCON-Delhi: Festival of Inspiration – 28 May, 2016 (Album with…

ISKCON-Delhi: Festival of Inspiration – 28 May, 2016 (Album with photos)
Several thousands attended ISKCON’s Festival of Inspiration to celebrate the 500th Anniversary of Lord Sri Chaitanya.
India’s Union Minister for Tourism and Culture Dr Mahesh Sharma inaugaurated the event and spoke on how Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s movement is about devotion and compassion. He thanked ISKCON for taking India’s culture around the world.
The festival saw several stunning presentations by national and international artists. These included Odisi Dance on Dasavatar, Shadow Play, Drama on Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
A kirtan team of members from Urugauy, Venuzeual, Uganda, Russia, Spain, India, Mauritius enthralled the audience with their meditative and uplifting kirtans.
ISKCON Sannyasis and members spoke on the legacy of Sri Chaitanya and Srila Prabhupada.
Find them here:

Prabhupada Festival 2016 — New Dvaraka, Los Angeles (playlist of…

Prabhupada Festival 2016 — New Dvaraka, Los Angeles (playlist of 10 brief clips)
Srila Prabhupada: Lord Krishna stresses the importance of remembering Him. One‘s memory of Krishna is revived by chanting the maha-mantra, Hare Krishna. By this practice of chanting and hearing the sound vibration of the Supreme Lord, one’s ear, tongue and mind are engaged. This mystic meditation is very easy to practice, and it helps one attain the Supreme Lord. (Bhagavad-Gita 8.8 Purport)
Watch them here:

Living Your Calling in an Age of Confusion. On the evening of…

Living Your Calling in an Age of Confusion.
On the evening of Friday, May 6th, New York’s Bhakti Center partnered with Upbuild to hold a dinner event featuring a talk by Radhanath Swami on the topic “Living Your Calling in an Age of Confusion”.
Upbuild is an educational social enterprise created by Rasanath Das and Hari Prasad, who both used to live and serve at The Bhakti Center as monks. Upon graduation from the monastic order they went on to launch Upbuild which aims at maximizing the human potential by creating environments that inspire genuine purpose and authentic connection. Among the dinner’s 100 guests were many leaders in business, journalism and other creative fields.
Below are excerpts from Radhanath Swami’s talk on how true wealth and happiness are found through finding and sharing the divine love that lies within the soul.
Living Your Calling in an Age of Confusion.
Radhanath Swami: The times like we are facing these days are periods in human history that could potentially bring a rise in enlightenment, or just the opposite. Times of difficult, individually and collectively, are crossroads where we have to really question our lives.
What gives a thing value to a person’s heart is not the monetary price of it, or how it may stimulate the eyes or the mind. What gives value to anything is the exchange of love.
What is valuable? Things can give some degree of pleasure to the senses and the mind but things can never give fulfillment to the heart. Only love can do that. The nature of the heart is to love and be loved. The heart is starving for love. If it is not nourished, no matter what we get, we can never be satisfied and we can never be an instrument to give true satisfaction.
When we realize that love within us, and make it our life’s service to be an instrument of that love, which is expressed through compassion for the body, mind and souls of others, then our life is truly meaningful and fulfilling. With that integrity we can work harder than anyone, if that is required, but it is not motivated by greed, envy or arrogance – it’s motivated by love. By really caring and wanting to make a difference.
The greatest thing that we can pass down through our legacy is compassion, love and care based on moral values – principles of spiritual integrity. There is a saying, that if you lose your wealth you lose nothing, if you lose health you lose something, and if you lose your character you lose everything. Of course we need wealth and we see that when the economy is struggling it can really bring out the worst in people. But where there is compassion, where we see humanity and life itself as a family, then we will make our policies with the mindset that we are caretakers of each other, whether we are in investment bankers, farmers or even swami’s.
To read the entire article click here:

Door to door book distribution. Bhakta Akshay: Since the start…

Door to door book distribution.
Bhakta Akshay: Since the start of this year, in the mood of Haridasa Thakura and Nityananda Prabhu, I’ve been doing a lot of what I think is an under-rated form of book distribution: door to door. I was inspired by a devotee friend, who used to be a Jehovah’s Witness.
She said that they are really systematic. They keep notes and even revisit favorable people they’ve met. I adopted this systematic approach in distributing Srila Prabhupada’s books, and I now make notes on the favorable people I meet. I revisit them and bring them gifts, prasada, and beads.
It’s been less than half a year, and I’m really pleased with the results.
While the quantity of books going out may be less than through other forms of book distribution, door to door may be more powerful, because you can cultivate the really favorable people you meet in the comfort of their homes.
Already, by Krishna’s mercy, I meet regularly (roughly once a week) with a really nice lady and discuss the Bhagavad Gita in her own home. I simply revisited her and brought her gifts like prasadam and beads. Before I knew it, she invited me into her home and wanted to discuss the Bhagavad Gita with me on a regular basis.And this isn’t the only case like this. I’ve met dozens of people who receive me favorably when I revisit them.
By Krishna’s mercy many of them are willing to let me in to talk about Krishna conscious philosophy. You can really feel the mercy of Nityananda Prabhu and Haridasa Thakura, the original door-to-door book distributors. It’s also great for those of us who aren’t full-time sankirtana devotees. Right now I’m a student, and I mainly go out when people are getting back from work and on weekends. I really wish door-to-door book distribution would catch on. I’ve seen too many devotional creepers wither away, because no one watered them. Door-to- door book distribution solves this problem by letting us cultivate the people we meet.
Your servant, Bhakta Akshay

ISKCON Pakistan: Presentation on Sindhi Bhagavad Gita printing…

ISKCON Pakistan: Presentation on Sindhi Bhagavad Gita printing in Damodhardesh-May 2016 (3 min video)
Srila Prabhupada: I don’t say, “Follow me.” I say “Follow Krishna.” Krishna says, “Surrender unto Me.” I say “Surrender unto Krishna.” Is there any difference? My position is simply repeating because Krishna says, “Anyone who preaches this confidential subject matter, he is dear to Me.” Allahabad, January 18, 1971
Watch it here:

Go to Krishna Now

From Back to Godhead

By Gopamatrka devi dasi

A mother’s extraordinary love for her premature son draws those around her closer to transcendental knowledge of the soul.

In college Carol studied psychology and sociology, preparing for social work. Living in a Catholic convent during her first two years of college, she had hoped her aspiration to serve God and humanity would find its fulfillment there. But feeling that there must be a universal platform on which all people can relate, she felt compelled to search beyond the confines of sectarian religion. In hopes of having exposure to a variety of alternatives, Carol moved to New York City. Though she worked for some time for the United Nations and the Peace Corps, she still felt lacking. She frequented libraries and bookstores, poring over book after book of theology and philosophy. She also dabbled in kriya-yoga and Zen Buddhism and became a vegetarian. Occasionally Carol would see the Hare Krishna devotees in Central Park. She was intrigued by them. And although at first she spoke with the devotees in a challenging spirit, upon reading a Back to Godhead magazine, she felt that here might well be the life she was looking for.

She went to a Sunday feast, spent the night, and never left. In 1972 she was initiated by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and received the spiritual name Ragatmika-devi dasi. For many years, Ragatmika dedicated herself to distributing her spiritual master’s books. Daily she experienced the satisfaction of offering to countless people a practical solution to all of their problems: knowledge of the soul and service to God. Yet Ragatmika was not merely giving out books of philosophy; she was also imbibing the same philosophy in a very deep and personal way. This became evident as her life unfolded and Lord Krishna used her to preach the beauty of spiritual life in a unique and poignant way. In 1982 Ragatmika married a devotee named Karnapura dasa, and the two of them moved to the ISKCON community in Los Angeles. They planned to conceive a child, and in the spring of 1985, Ragatmika learned that she was pregnant. Ragatmika had the firm conviction that within her womb was a spirit soul entrusted to her by Krishna. Because she knew from the Vedic literature that transcendental sounds could benefit even an unborn child, she would place a speaker against her abdomen and play tapes of Srila Prabhupada chanting.

The pregnancy had been difficult for Ragatmika from the start, and she was only in her fifth month when she was rushed to the hospital. She was in labor. The doctors were able to stop the contractions for some time, but they began again. At 4:40 a.m. on October 25, Ragatmika gave birth to a tiny boy. The infant weighed just one pound and was immediately transported to the neonatal intensive care unit. Karnapura brought an auto-reverse tape recorder and placed two small speakers within his son’s incubator so that the child could always hear Srila Prabhupada chanting. Dr. Dan Polk, in charge at the time, assured the parents that he had instructed the staff that the tape should be considered as much a life-saving instrument as any other device the baby required. Making the incubator into a little temple, Ragatmika decorated it with flower garlands, pictures of Krishna, and—in bold letters—the baby’s name: “Nitai-prana,” a name of Lord Chaitanya meaning “the life air of Lord Nityananda.” Tiny Nitai-prana was smaller than an adult human hand, yet he was a perfectly formed person.

Laksmi-priya, a Godsister and friend of Ragatmika’s, was fascinated to note how even at such a young age the child had the same features and mannerisms as his father. When Laksmi-priya told Nitai-prana what his name was, he began waving his arms and moving his mouth. She told his parents of this, and there was much relief and laughing. Ragatmika began regularly going to the hospital in the morning, staying until 4:00 P.M. She would sit and read to Nitai-prana, even though the doors to his incubator weren’t open. She felt responsible for serving and assisting this spirit soul in his sojourn for as long as Krishna desired that he stay with them. The staff at the hospital marveled at Ragatmika’s concern for her child. Generally the parents of children so premature don’t give the child so much attention. There’s such a little chance of survival. Yet Ragatmika came daily, exhibiting a kind of parental love the hospital staff had never seen before. Ragatmika was always reading or playing tapes, considering the spiritual needs of the child. She also distributed prasadam (food offered to Krishna), books, and garlands to the nurses and doctors. The staff was touched, not only by Ragatmika’s preaching, but by her saintly character.

The head nurse, Sue, was so curious that she arranged to become Nitai-prana’s personal nurse. She was a Chinese-American, and she gave Ragatmika a pendant cut from jade that hung on a red string. In China parents traditionally put this around the neck of their child, so that he might “grow healthy and strong and keep safe and free from fear, wherever life’s travels take him.” Sue had been saving the pendant for her own child, but she had come to feel that it was meant for Nitai-prana. Sue became grateful for her contact with Krishna consciousness, feeling that it was what she had been seeking for years. She took pride and relish in serving Nitai-prana and made sure his tape player constantly played transcendental chants. Ragatmika cut out a special picture of Lord Krishna for Nitai-prana’s incubator. She told the nurses that it should be in Nitai-prana’s view at all times. The nurses, who regularly turned the infant’s little head at different times so that he wouldn’t get bed sores, would also move the picture into his range of vision. On each shift, day and night, there were about twelve nurses and three doctors. They sympathized with Ragatmika and were inspired by her.

In January Nitai-prana developed a lung disease, and the doctors predicted that he wouldn’t make it out of the hospital. Upon first hearing this, Ragatmika could not refrain from crying, thinking that she would never hold her child. But then she soberly considered that if Krishna chose to put Nitai-prana into His own arms rather than hers, what was the loss? Isn’t this what all devotee parents hope for-that their child makes significant progress in his journey toward God? As February passed, Nitai-prana’s lungs began to show improvement. The situation looked hopeful. Then he developed an infection in the upper chamber of his heart. Ragatmika watched as the doctors juggled the alternative treatments for this tiny infant, and she realized that there is no greater pain for a mother than to helplessly witness her child’s suffering. Then she considered how easily and naturally she felt compassion for this infant because he was her child. Yet so many people were suffering all over the world—without the purification of hearing Krishna’s holy name. “Where is my compassion for them?” she thought. Then she remembered Shrila Prabhupada, who exhibited inconceivable compassion, far more intense and spontaneous than what any mother has for her suffering child. As Ragatmika looked upon her child, she prayed for a drop of such compassion.

The doctors decided to perform open heart surgery to remove the blood clot in Nitai-prana’s heart. They had never performed heart surgery on such a tiny heart, and the chances for survival were quite slim. Ragatmika and Karnapura came to the hospital that morning with all the paraphernalia ready for cremation. Karnapura requested that the tape be played during the surgery, so that if the baby passed on, he would hear the chanting of the holy name. As Lord Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita, “And whoever, at the end of his life, quits his body remembering Me alone at once attains My nature” (Bg. 8.5). One of the nurses got a tiny earphone for the tape recorder and taped the earphone to Nitai-prana’s ear. The operation was a remarkable success. When Ragatmika came to the hospital the next day, she overheard two of the doctors joking, “Gee, maybe we should use the Hare Krishna tape for this one too. Maybe it will make it a success.” When Nitai-prana was four months old, Ragatmika was able to hold him as she sat in a rocking chair. As she held him, she reflected on how the knowledge Srila Prabhupada had given her was relieving what would have been a depressing situation. Usually when we meet with reverses we blame the creator. But knowledge of the law of karma, the eternal soul, and devotional service had liberated Ragatmika from such a blunder.

Early on the morning of April 9, Ragatmika called the hospital to hear how Nitai-prana was doing, and she heard that he’d had a bad night. She had been planning to go to the hospital at 9:00 A.M., but she decided to go immediately. Ragatmika had never seen Nitai-prana in such a bad condition. His abdomen was so distended that he looked as if he were about to burst. But his face was very peaceful. His eyes were open wide, and he was looking at his mother very deliberately. The doctors were discussing performing another operation on him, while Ragatmika stood a couple of feet behind them quietly chanting. Suddenly the heart monitor dropped dramatically. One of the doctors turned to Sue, the head nurse, and said, “I think you’d better take the mother out and tell her—he won’t live much longer.” But Sue disregarded the doctor’s direction and motioned for- Ragatmika to come over to the bed. “Nitai-prana is leaving his body now,” Sue said. Realizing the urgency, Ragatmika immediately went to Nitai-prana’s side. Her voice was so choked that she became afraid that her chanting would not be clear enough for Nitai-prana to hear.

As she looked intently at Nitai-prana, she pleaded with the doctors and nurses around her, “Please help me chant ‘Hare Krishna’ for him. Please help me chant ‘Hare Krishna’ for him.” Sue and another nurse immediately began to chant. As soon as Ragatmika heard the chanting, she was filled with relief. She could understand that the soul’s departure would be a success. Within five minutes the monitor showed no heartbeat. Sue picked up the body of the infant and placed it in Ragatmika’s arms. Ragatmika didn’t know the formal prayers for a soul departing the body, but she began to speak to her departed child very clearly: “Don’t be diverted by this mother-and-son relationship. Take shelter of Krishna’s lotus feet, which are our only real shelter. Go to Krishna now.”

The doctors and nurses were stunned. Never had they witnessed a baby dying in the presence of its parents without the parents sobbing. Ragatmika’s obvious deep love and concern and her serenity impressed everyone present. Three days after Nitai-prana left his body there was a feast at the temple in his honor. Immediately after the feast Ragatmika took some of the various dishes to her friends at the hospital, who enjoyed the sumptuous feast. She thanked the hospital staff for their endeavors and service. Many of them shed tears. A devotee lives to relieve the suffering of others by enlightening them about the eternal nature of the soul. This enlightenment brings more than philosophical satisfaction; it relieves the bewildered soul of the agony of material existence. As Ragatmika passed through a difficult test in an exemplary, Krishna conscious way, she brought everyone in contact with her closer to Krishna. This is the glory of the Lord’s devotee.

Hare Krishna

Birth Control Myths

From Back to Godhead

By Urmila Devi Dasi

Proponents of contraception claim it solves many social problems. Are they right? Thirteen-year-old Jenny broke the silence. “Rhoda, I was a birth-control baby.” “Birth-control baby? I never heard of that.” “The birth control my mother and father used didn’t work, and the result was me.” “You mean you weren’t wanted.” Jenny didn’t answer. She hunched the covers over her shoulders. Rhoda leaned across the beds to touch Jenny’s shoulder. “I’m sorry. I don’t know why I said such a stupid thing.” Jenny lay still for a long time. Her thoughts drifted to her family….

“Rhoda,” she said softly after a while. “Rhoda, you were right, anyway. I’m the family accident.” Rhoda was sleeping already. Surprised at what [Rhoda] had said, and yet, feeling as if she’d always known it, [Jenny] understood now the plea that was always in her mother’s eyes when her mother looked at her….

[Jenny] closed her own eyes and went to sleep, too. —A Figure of Speech, by Norma Fox Mazer, p. 44 ABUSED, UNLOVED, unwanted, neglected children are an image of pain that tugs at the heart of any caring person. And what is modern technology’s answer? Birth control. Politicians, scientists, educators, and even religious leaders advise contraception—and its commander in reserve, abortion—as the answer to many social and economic woes. Yet when we examine the problems that contraception and abortion aim to solve and the benefits they are supposed to give, we may be surprised to see how they fall short. In ancient history, the saint Prahlada taught that a materialistic solution is worse than the original problem. Birth control exemplifies this principle. Let’s consider the reputed benefits of birth control and abortion: no more births of unwanted children, all children raised in a stable home and nurtured with affection, more freedom and respect for women, better health for women, fewer financial burdens for families, and less of a population burden on the planet. No more unwanted children? The prime objective of birth control and abortion is to eliminate unwanted children. Despite the increase of birth control and abortion worldwide, however, evidence shows that the problem of unwanted children has worsened the more the “solution” has been applied. In the essay Right Reason, William F. Buckley, Jr., writes, “The general availability of birth control information has caused a rise in illegitimacy.”

In Sweden, for example, the percentage of children born out of wedlock has risen steadily and today stands at 52%. In the United States, from 1950 to 1980 the annual rate of illegitimate births increased by 450%. One might imagine that with birth control and abortion easily available, all children, or nearly all, would be born to a married couple who want a child. But that’s not the case. The number of unwanted children is on the rise. A major cause is teenage promiscuity, and 81% of physicians surveyed agree that the availability of contraceptives has led to increased promiscuity among teens. (A. Pietropinto, “A Survey on Contraceptive Analysis,” Medical Aspects of Human Sexuality, May 1987, p. 147) Teenagers who have had birth control education have a 50% higher sexual activity rate than teens who have not. (Louis Harris and Associates, “American Teens Speak: Sex, Myths, TV and Birth Control,” Harris and Associates for Planned Parenthood of America, Inc., 1986, p. 53)

Coleen Mast, author of the Sex Respect curriculum, compares teaching about contraceptives to teaching how to light fires “safely” in garbage cans. Such an education would no doubt increase the number of house fires. By offering some limited protection against the consequence of pregnancy, contraceptives encourage illicit sex. But contraceptives don’t solve problems of poverty, illiteracy, drug use, and uncontrolled sexual desire—all of which contribute to illegitimate births. In fact, people may feel that simply by using some pill or device, they can avoid becoming responsible adults capable of moral choice.

All Children Raised With Stability and Love?

The growing acceptance and use of birth control and abortion has also led to an increase in divorce, abandonment, child neglect, and child abuse. Half of all children in America will grow up without one parent, usually the father, because of illegitimacy or divorce. More than one million children a year live through divorce. Again in America, from 1986 to 1993 the number of abused and neglected children nearly doubled, and the numbers of children seriously injured or endangered from abuse both quadrupled. Having the right to “plan” one’s children through unnatural means may lead to family instability and child abuse; it certainly has not solved these problems. If we ask, “Why are so many children today not raised with love in a stable home?” and “Why do people use birth control?” the answers will be practically the same: the parents think sex is for pleasure only, not for reproduction. Why, then, take much care with children who come accidentally? And “accidental” children will come. Women who use contraceptives with a high rate of compliance still have a 10-13% pregnancy rate. (Family Planning Perspective, Sept./Oct. 1980, p. 236)

Contraceptive use reveals a selfish attitude: one wants enjoyment without any responsibility other than giving pleasure in return. Some may argue that a married couple may be “responsible” in their contraceptive use and still care for the children they plan for. But isn’t that like a company employee who regularly steals from the business yet claims to be honest with the other employees? Perhaps some people can practice “selective love,” but they remind us of an unusual creature—the scorpion mouse, which kills and eats scorpions, being immune to the poison. It also eats other mice, even other scorpion mice. But scorpion mice are some of the most caring parents in the animal kingdom, mourning long if one of their babies becomes a meal for an owl. Such “love” is a kind of extended selfishness, rather than selfless giving for the welfare of others. If the motive for our “love” is selfish, we will act without concern for our formerly lovable person if our desires appear to be better fulfilled by not loving.

Those who try to prevent pregnancy—through surgery, devices, chemicals, or unnatural sexual practices—develop a mentality of seeing their body as meant for their own purposes, rather than seeing both their body and the bodies of their children as gifts from God to be engaged in His service. The contraceptive users so much despise Krishna’s plan for the human body that they alter its natural function. They come to hate the responsibilities integral to their own bodies. When those responsibilities take the form of children, they may resent the children as well. Contraceptive use means trying to outwit Krishna, to take what one wants while short-circuiting and sabotaging the system. That is the mentality of a thief. Shrila Prabhupada often said that Krishna can be the greatest cheater. We may try to cheat Him, but in the end we will find ourselves cheated of genuine spiritual life and happiness, as the cheating employee will find that his friends don’t trust him and his boss fires him.

One may further argue that abuse, neglect, divorce, instability, and so on, exist, if to a lesser extent, among those who do not artificially avoid having children. Clearly, simply having children as nature intended is not enough to insure genuine love for them. Yes, without spiritual realization, our loving relationships will be more or less selfish. But the mentality of the contraceptive user is so opposed to the Lord’s plan that spiritual life, with its true love and selflessness, has no chance to develop. And a life that fully respects the link between sex and reproduction is part of a foundation upon which one can exhibit real love.

More Freedom and Respect for Women?

Because of widespread contraceptive use, women have increasingly become exploited slaves of irresponsible men. Formerly, a woman who conceived a child outside marriage had choices. She could marry the child’s father, raise the child alone, or give the child to an adoptive couple. If she wanted to marry the child’s father, her parents and community would put moral and social pressure on him. Now boyfriends, parents, and even husbands often pressure women to avoid or kill their own children. The thinking is, “This woman entered the relationship with a stated or implied agreement that children weren’t included. Why should the man be obligated now that a child has come by accident?”

Mary Pride, a leading advocate of the return to family values, writes, “Our society has been separating sex from the responsibilities and joys of having children for over thirty years…. Wives, who used to be regarded primarily as mothers and therefore sacred, are now seen as fancy vessels for men to relieve their sexual frustrations. Look at the ads in magazines, stores, TV, and billboards. Is this a noble picture of women, for their bodies to be used to sell everything from jeans to toothpaste?” (The Way Home, p. 30)

Women who rely on contraception and abortion may feel unfettered to pursue their own desires and careers, but is that real freedom? Real freedom comes in loving and serving God. Having children, even many children, doesn’t interfere with that. Besides, a woman who rejects contraception is expressing her freedom to control her sexual urges. By using contraception and abortion, others show they are hopeless slaves of lust and selfish bodily urges.

Better Health for Women?

We’re told it’s dangerous for women to have “too many” children, or to have children later in their childbearing years. Actually, having and nursing children prevents many of the health problems of modern women. For example, a woman who breast feeds for a total of at least seven years has nearly a zero percent chance of breast cancer at any time in her life. Most women who get various cancers of the reproductive system have had no or few babies. Conversely, many medical problems come directly from contraception. And abortion is not only very risky physically, but often brings the mother lifelong psychological problems. Of course, as with anything in this world, pregnancy and childbirth include risks. The risks, however, need not deter us from doing what is best for us and most pleasing to God. Those devoted to illicit sexual life are willing to sacrifice their money, health, and reputation to maintain their way of life. Even the fear of AIDS doesn’t discourage them. Can we not be at least as willing to sacrifice for the right cause?

Fewer Financial Burdens for Families?

It is common in modern society to think of children as a problem rather than a blessing. And today, children may indeed be financial burdens, especially if they’re extravagant consumers. On the other hand, many parents find that their children are a blessing and enrich their lives in many ways, even economically. Despite their freedom from the financial burden of children, childless couples face financial burdens nonetheless, because their desires induce them to work hard for money. Instead of spending money on educating and training their children, they spend for an extra car, a vacation home, a large-screen TV, and so on. Do these acquisitions bring more joy and fewer burdens than children would? Which life inspires one to be a better person? Certainly having children costs money, time, and effort. But, again, life is full of sacrifice and responsibility. A man who works hard so he can raise children dedicated to Lord Krishna is blessed with spiritual growth and satisfaction.

Less of a Population Burden on the Planet?

Many people will argue that without birth control, families will have a dozen or more children. Yet in societies where birth control isn’t practiced, the average number of children per family is six. Six children per family may seem too many for the earth, but the entire present world population could fit in France or in the state of Texas, with 1,500 square feet per person. We could feed ten times the present population on an American-style diet, and thirty times the population on a Japanese-style diet. (Colin Clark, Oxford University) All the world’s scriptures urge us to have many children, and describe children as a blessing. The only burden on the earth mentioned in the Vedic scriptures is that of a large population of sinful people who live lives of crime and deceit. The Lord, Sri Krishna, is unlimitedly wealthy and can easily provide adequately for all His obedient children. Harmful Side Effects Not only does birth control not solve the problems for which it claims to be the solution, but it has harmful side effects as well.

Homosexuality: Contraception may lead to increased homosexuality. If the purpose of sex doesn’t include children, then why not relations between two women or two men? Why not any type of unnatural relations? (note: The GVT does not promote homophobia, or gay basing. While ISKCON takes a rather conservative position about homosexuality like most religions, the GVT supports the idea that everyone must be treated with compassion and respect. Within and out of ISKCON you will find the whole spectrum of opinions regarding homosexuality. I have received a number of emails complaining about this article’s statements here so I have added this disclaimer. The GVT has not formulated an official view regarding homosexuality. The web servant and his wife are on the more liberal end of the debate, while others differ. Karnamrita )

Abortion: Acceptance of birth control leads to acceptance of abortion. Fifty percent of women who have had abortions say they were using birth control and it failed. Abortion is simply a more extreme way of saying that one’s personal needs, desires, status, and so on, are more desirable than the birth of a child. And being a form of child abuse (torturing and killing an unborn child), abortion leads to abuse of children in general. Why not hurt or kill a child who interferes with my life? People may claim that an unborn child is not yet human, but is an acorn seedling not simply an immature oak? The fetus is growing because the soul is present from conception. In any case, all life is sacred, not just life outside the womb, and not just human life.

Illicit sex: Immoral sexual relationships increase when contraception and abortion are available. People feel that with control over pregnancy, they need not consider commitment or the criticism of society. And because birth control promotes a mentality of separating sexual pleasure from procreation, people begin to feel that relationships based only on physical pleasure are not only morally acceptable, but natural.

Loss of respect and love for God: The spiritual harm of birth control is its most damaging—to individuals and society. The contraceptive user doesn’t respect Krishna’s design and plan. How can I love God if I don’t even respect Him? Rather, I think I would be a better God and am ready to redesign the world according to my vision. The mentality of envying Krishna’s supremacy and control is the root of material consciousness.

The Spiritual Solution All the arguments for the benefits of contraception presume that people cannot control their sexual appetites. We expect adults to control their appetites for food, so why not for sex? Of course, modern society doesn’t expect much self-control in eating, either. The artificial sex created when using contraceptives has its parallel in the artificial foods that have taste but no calories or nutrition. Sterilization has its parallel in stomach stapling. Krishna’s devotees know that mastery over our bodies, senses, and minds is both desirable and possible. Those who dedicate their lives to worshiping and pleasing Lord Krishna know that real pleasure comes from serving His plan, including His plan for the human body. They don’t try to separate physical pleasure from the whole of the reproductive function. In fact, those completely serious about spiritual perfection in this lifetime either live as unmarried celibates or, in marriage, restrict sexual union to the time when the wife is most likely to conceive. Before conception, the husband and wife meditate on the Lord and chant His holy names to purify themselves of selfish desire so as to offer the procreative act as a sacrifice to Him. Krishna says that He is present in such a union, and the couple therefore feels not only bodily pleasure but also spiritual bliss. They don’t feel a burden in raising their children to love Krishna; rather they take it as great happiness.

For people in general, a return to a life where children can assist their parents with running the household and earning the livelihood would greatly contribute toward the vision of children as a blessing rather than a burden. Spiritually, when children are raised to grow in love of God they are a great blessing to their families and society in all respects. The unlimitedly wealthy Lord will surely provide for those who wish to raise such children. Society must also return to the vision that this entire creation, including one’s own body, operates according to the plan of an unlimitedly intelligent and caring Supreme Being. We only hurt ourselves when we try to circumvent or obstruct that plan, even when dealing with our body, which we can’t truly claim to be our own.

Hare Krishna

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