Q. What is difference between Goloka and Vaikuntha?
And on what basis is it decided that a soul will go to Vaikuntha or Goloka?
A. These are two separate but related questions so we will answer them together.
Go means cow and loka means abode. So Goloka is the spiritual abode of the cows where Shyamasundara Krishna is eternally engaged in His pastimes with the cows, cowherd men and cowherd women. Vai is a modified prefix (upasarga) which has a sense of negation and kuntha means anxiety. So Vaikuntha is place without anxieties. Vaikuntha has several Vaikuntha planets – each presided by Narayana the Lord of Vaikuntha. Continue reading Difference between Goloka and Vaikuntha?
Q. How we can detach ourselves from the materialistic world to get back to Krishna?
A. It begins with hearing about Krishna in disciplic succession. By regularly hearing about Krishna in the association of devotees and rendering service according to what we hear, knowledge and detachment automatically arise and attachment to Krsna is awakened. Then all the impurities in the heart are vanquished and we become eligible to go back to Godhead.
Q. I have been in contact with ISKCON for one year, but I am still not happy. I believe that I have taken birth to serve India. I want to live and die for India. I don’t want to go to the kingdom of God until I feel that I have completed my job on this earth.
My problem with ISKCON is that the lectures teach only the ways to go to God, but I want to know the ways to live in this Kali-yuga. Of course, I will remain a devotee of Lord Krishna. But please give me some tips that will help me live in this Kali-yuga.
Let me tell you my aim in this life: I want to fight for justice. I want to serve the people of India. I want to serve the society.
A. Lord Krishna has appeared in this Kali-yuga as Lord Caitanya, who states that the duty of every Indian is to make his life perfect by becoming Krishna conscious and helping others become Krishna conscious. If you accept that as your service for India, you will make a great contribution. Because Srila Prabhupada took Lord Caitanya’s instruction seriously, he was able to greatly benefit the world by giving the perfection of India’s spiritual culture, pure devotion to Lord Krishna. If you follow in his footsteps, that will be the greatest service you can perform for Krishna, for India, for the world, and for yourself.
The best way to live in this world is the same as the way to go to the spiritual world: to fully engage in God’s service.
It is said that those who have lost their spiritual vision in this age of Kali can get light from Srimad-Bhagavatam. So you can study under the guidance of a realized soul and be enlightened and act in an enlightened way. The Srimad-Bhagavatam says that those who know the essence of things worship the age of Kali because in this age one can attain all desirable things simply by chanting the holy name of the Lord.
The greatest injustice is that because people lack real knowledge, they are being systematically slaughtered life after life as a result of neglecting their relationship with God. You can teach, by your own example, that life’s goal is spiritual realization, and you can also help educate others and end this slaughtering by teaching them Bhagavad-gita. If you want to do good to others, why not work for their eternal benefit? If you do this, you will be forever gloried and your soul be fully satisfied.
Q. In light of the Wars, could you please give some Vedic insight besides chanting the holy name?
A. War arises from false claims of proprietorship over God’s property and from accepting as real designations based on the body and acting according to them. These problems can be eliminated if we all chant the Lord’s name, which purifies us from these defects, but unfortunately faithless people will never chant and so the wars will continue to come and go, only to return again.
As long as we live in the material world, there will be lighting. Even in heaven, Lord Indra has to worry about people like Bali Maharaja usurping his position. But troublemakers cannot make it to Vaikuntha, the spiritual world and therefore we should be determined to go there and we should encourage others to make the same determination.
It is simple: In the material world there is always war and in the spiritual world there is always peace; therefore we should aspire to go to the spiritual world. We should take advantage of the opportunity to encourage people to solve the problem of war by going back to Godhead. People do not consider that God is all good and all powerful and so in His world there is no anxiety. We should plan to go there by following the path chalked out by the great teachers who have understood the truth. Therefore chanting the holy name is the real solution to the ultimate problem. We cannot eliminate war from this planet, but we can elevate our consciousness to the point where we will be able to attain the spiritual world and thus eliminate war from our life.
Q. If Krishna is all powerful and wants us to come back to Him, then why does He not simply do it?
A. The answer to your question, which you have said is a very fundamental one, rests on the understanding of the living entity’s free will. Because there is free will, the living entity can choose to misuse their free will. When this choice of misuse of free will is exercised by the living entity, the Lord may sanction it. But the punishment is also there along with the sanctioning, so that the living entity learns the lesson that misuse of free will, will not bring happiness. If you look on the other side of the question, `Why is it that God does not restrict our free will so that we cannot misuse it?’, then you have a situation where love is also not voluntary but forced. That is not love, that is something else. In order for there to be real love for God, there must also be the opportunity for free will, including the misuse of free will.
Q. I am a Life Member of ISKCON. I understand that a more materialistic life means a less spiritual one. But I’m not strong enough to follow all of God’s rules (as mentioned in the Gita). I therefore follow a more materialistic life and less of a spiritual life, apart from praying to Lord Krishna almost daily.I want to make money, get married, have a sex life, and eat meat. If I do all these things, does that mean I can never enter God’s kingdom when I die, even though I believe in God’s existence and pray to Him daily?
A. You are correct in saying that material life and spiritual life oppose each other. Fortunately, the power of Krishna consciousness is such that you don’t have to give up your ordinary life and leave for the forest. You can spiritualize your life by connecting it with Krishna. But connecting with Krishna means following His instructions. If we disobey Krishna or his representative, how can we expect to please Him with our prayers? The regulative principles followed by members of ISKCON are traditional rules found in the Vedic scriptures. Although any civilized person should follow them, in modern society they seem like great austerities. Our conditioning and karma make us think we can’t follow them. But if we are sincere in making spiritual progress, we’ll get the resolve to follow them.
Achieving the association of Krishna is no small feat. We shouldn’t think we don’t have to work for it. It takes effort or what we refer to as austerity. In the Srimad-Bhagavatam, Lord Rishbhadeva tells his sons that human life is meant for austerity because by austerity one can attain unending bliss. Our problem is that we’re not serious about attaining the goal. Materialists are so serious about such things as making millions of dollars or winning Olympic medals that they perform incredible austerities to attain their goals. We have to muster at least a minimum amount of desire if we expect to attain Krishna.
Srila Prabhupäda said that performing sinful activities while trying to advance in spiritual life is like trying to ignite a fire while pouring water on it; it won’t work. What you propose won’t work. You can’t have it both ways. Your problem is one of desire. You have to increase your desire for spiritual life. How can you do that? Regularly chant Hare Krishna, read Srila Prabhupada’s books, associate with devotees, visit the temple, and so on. You are fighting an inner conflict, being pulled in two directions. If you want to be successful, you have to increase your attraction to the pull of Krishna. Sinful life will dampen the power of even the best spiritual practices. Again, you have to have enough determination to give up sinful life. Pray to Krishna for that, not for material things. He can give you strength and determination, as He has for thousands of others.
Most ISKCON devotees came from backgrounds that included sinful acts, but they were able to give them up. It’s not so hard to give up meat-eating, for example. Millions of people who aren’t even spiritually inclined have given up this vicious habit. Don’t think that you can sincerely offer prayers to the Lord while slaughtering his innocent creatures. We suggest you at least give up this bad habit to show Krishna you’re trying.