The following is a correspondence between myself (Pradeep Sharma) and an ex-devotee turned Christian:
I read your letter and was automatically reminded of the words of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura wherein he states,
“The followers of this religion (Christianity) have no power to worship God selflessly. In general, their idea is that by cultivating fruitive work and speculative philosophy one should work to make improvements in the material world.”
For the past 2000 years Christianity has evolved based on speculative philosophy. Because the Bible is vague and can be interpreted in countless ways we find so many different opinions. Christianity has broken into countless sects each with a different opinion based on mental speculation. Even within each sect you can hardly find two Christians who agree. I can see you have come up with yet one more concocted idea about Christianity to add to the quagmire.
“Namaste. pranams to you. I am writing your article on ‘An Indian Speaks Out on Christianity.’ I have read it with care and would like to point out a few things. Sorry to say that your conception and understanding of Jesus Christ is incorrect. I know you are taking the Vaishnava view, but it is flawed. If you read in Genesis the Lord says, “Let Us make man in Our image”. There are a few other references in the Bible where the Lord is using the plurality of His Being. This plurality is The Lord Himself and Jesus. Jesus is co-creator in God¹s creation. Simply by God¹s Divine Instruction, By His Word, there was light, there was day, etc. God and His word are non-different. They are Absolute as He is. If you read the Book of John, Chapter one, we see that that Word became flesh. God’s manifestation, God’s Word manifested in the flesh, and that was Jesus Christ. You might say this is simply “our own interpretation” No, it isn’t, it is God’s Word and revelation. You can ask why according to Vaishnava Philosophy is some jivas bound (jiva-baddha) and some free. Why is the jiva tatasata-shakti, and some not. The Vaishnava answer is it is the Lord’s lila. If that is so, we jivas have to suffer so much in this material world. This is as absurd as your claim to the Bible’s creation.”
You are taking words from here and there, stringing them together and then speculating on the meanings. You say Jesus is a ‘co-creator’, but where in the Bible have you found verification that Jesus is a co-creator other than a few vague and cryptic references? The verses you cite can be interpreted many ways. You say the word and God are non-different and on the absolute platform. This is similar to the Holy Names of Krishna and Krishna being non-different. But there is no evidence the Bible is teaching this knowledge. There is no indication or mention in the Bible putting forth such a notion that Jesus was a co-creator. The idea of the word and God being non-different is something that you are borrowing from Vedic thought. And the idea of the co-creator being Jesus you have borrowed from Srimad Bhagavatam. Furthermore, the idea that Jesus is Brahma is a concoction that you have borrowed from a deviant Hindu group (Science of Identity Foundation) in Hawaii.
The fact is that Christianity has borrowed what little philosophy it has from other sources.
The Veda is lucidly clear concerning who the co-creator of the Universe is and clearly explains that the Holy Name of Krishna and Krishna Himself are non-different. Where the Bible is ambiguous, hazy and downright confusing the Veda is vividly clear, distinct and logical. The following history may interest you. Back in the 1700s the Christians claimed that the followers of Srimad Bhagavatam had derived their philosophy from the Bible. In the end it was proven by European Indologists that the worship of Krishna and the philosophy of Krishna Consciousness, existed long before the worship of Jesus.
I have come to know after speaking with some senior Gaudiya Vaishnavas that you have had some dealing with the Gaudiya Vaishnava sampradaya in the past. Apparently you were an initiated disciple of Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada but for some reason you have now gone towards Christianity and like most Christians you now claim Jesus as your guru – thereby negating surrender and service to a bona-fide living spiritual master.
“Another point that you are missing, as so are all of you, including the acharyas (I do not intend to make Vaishnava aparadha), is that you are all very much Biblically illiterate.”
I beg to differ with your statement. You are greatly mistaken concerning our acharyas being “Biblically illiterate”. The fact is that Bhaktivinoda Thakura was well versed in the Bible having studied in Christian schools in his youth. In contemporary times there are also numerous acharyas and other Vaishnavas that are well read in the teachings of Christianity and the Bible. And as for my humble self my second major at the university was Biblical History and Philosophy. So modestly speaking some of my colleagues have on occasion called me a Biblical scholar.
“Because of the Lord¹s Infinite Love & Mercy, He came with a plan to save the lost souls. The Vaishnava philosophy states how can the sin of one man affect the whole race for generations. God was testing His creatures to see if they would obey. Because He is a God of Love, He will not force anyone to do anything. Justice and Mercy must both be there. If the Vaishnava thinks that this is absurd, then we can say that there are numerous absurdities in the Vedas such as the monkeys and bears that helped Ramachandra, or Putana being so big. In fact, we can say that all such (lilas) are absurd. We can say that all the brahmastras the kshatriyas used such as weapons that quenched the fire weapons, etc., are absurd.”
Simply put here you are giving a very one-dimensional answer that no thinking person will respect. You are alluding to the one and only original thought in Christianity, the idea of original sin. However, nowhere in Bible is the idea of original sin mentioned. Did you know that the idea of original sin is just a theory? Did you know that there are three theories concerning original sin? The theories are known to all Biblical scholars as, The Augustinian Theory, The Federal Theory, and The Theory of Mediate Imputation.
The first theory (The Augustinian Theory) came about from the speculations of Augustine in the 5th century, 400 years after the supposed disappearance of Jesus. The other two theories (The Federal Theory, and The Theory of Mediate Imputation) did not appear until the 17th century, or 1600 years after Jesus.
At present all Christians take as gospel truth one of the above mentioned theories concerning original sin. However, it is just one more mental speculation that has no valid Biblical reference. Good Christians believe it is the absolute truth. Christian theologians themselves however argue over which theory is true showing the absurdity of the other theories that they disbelieve.
The theologians themselves, who advocate the doctrine of original sin, prove conclusively that it is false. For instance, those theologians who advocate the Augustinian Theory prove conclusively that the Federal and Mediate Imputation Theories are unscriptural and false. On the other hand, those theologians who advocate the Federal Theory prove just as conclusively that the Augustinian Theory and Mediate Imputation Theories are unscriptural and false. Each theologian, in his turn, proves the other theories to be false. So we agree here with the Christian theologians. The theory of Original Sin has no validity and is a false doctrine.
The idea that all persons on earth must pay for the sins of the first created beings will not be acceptable to anyone advanced in culture, philosophy and science. Even in material society we do not punish all for the sins of one or two. By this logic God is less merciful than a common man. Yes, we think this is absolutely absurd.
“You state that Christianity has put forth a lie, a front, but really it is an aggressive religion. Well what about all the Hindu-Muslim riots? You cannot say that Christianity is aggressive, as Christ was the perfect example of humility and tolerance. You will never find anyone who has such infinite love and mercy. Look at all the so-called gurus that Prabhupada made. Look at Jayatirtha, Hamsaduta, Bhagavan, etc. Look at Bhavananada who molested little boys. Look at the child molestation of the gurukula children in Dallas. Now this demoniac. These persons posing as spiritual master did more harm than you can imagine. They were aggressors. Were they wrong, or was Prabhupada wrong for making them gurus? Look at Tamala-Krishna Goswami. His agenda was one of political gain. The same in Christianity. If there are demons in the group, don¹t say that was the intention of Christ.”
In the first place Moslems were aggressors from the beginning, as far back as the 13th century, when the first Moslems acted as aggressors and invaded India with the intent of controlling and converting all to Islam by force. Islam has been a challenge to not only Vaishnavas but all Hindus in India since the first Moslems stepped foot here. Vaishnavas or Hindus have never invaded another country and always welcomed other religions. However, those religions of the Abrahamic line like Islam and Christianity have a long history of intolerance especially of other religious thought and they have been hell bent on destroying all other religions.
Because both Islam and Christianity teach exclusivists doctrines i.e. that all others outside their religion are bound for hell and therefore should be converted by any means is good reason to object to their preaching and converting activity. Sri Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi wanted Christian missionaries kicked out of India once and for all. And no one can label Gandhiji as a fundamentalist fanatic Hindu. He was as liberal as you can get.
All are welcome in India but those who get in the door just to tear down the house and to destroy the religions and culture of India must be challenged. So your citing Hindu-Moslem riots is a very bad counter argument to the fact that Christianity is and always has been an aggressive religion designed to wipe out all other religious thought and all other non-Christian cultures. This is well recorded history, whether you like it or not. From the Crusades to the inquisitions, to the witch hunts to the wiping out of the American Natives, to the atrocities in Goa to the Conquistadors, to the torture, rape and mass murder perpetrated at the hands of conquering Christians, sometimes carried out by the nuns, priests and monks themselves – Christianity is a religion soaked in the blood of innocents. And this appalling barbarity has continued all the way into modern times, unabated.
You contend that we cannot blame Jesus on the evil doings that have been carried out in the name of Christianity. But the fact of the matter is that all the atrocities were justified by the Christians by citing the Bible. We are not talking about just a few rogue Christian leaders – we are talking about the entire Christian Church and its grizzly history.
So your argument is moot, you are trying to compare the fall down of a handful of devotees in ISKCON to the carnage of the Christian Church over 2,000 years. No intelligent person will accept your argument.
You speak of Jesus Christ as a historical person however the evidence for a historical Jesus is small. But if Jesus did exist in the historical sense then of course we do not blame him personally for all the atrocities of Christianity. However, the Bible and its fundamental teachings can indeed be blamed for the destruction of many cultures and societies. We would like to think that the person Jesus is not responsible. But the reality is that all this genocide, mass murder, rape, plunder and pillage have been done in his name using the Bible to validate such heinous activities. Just as the Islamist can use the Koran to back their foul deeds the Christians use the Bible.
“Before there was sin in this world, Lucifer in heaven rebelled and was cast out. You might say, “how can anyone cause rebellion in heaven”. No one is forced to stay anywhere, because we eternally have free choice. If you say this is absurd, you can also say that Jaya and Vijaya being thrown out of Vaikuntha was also absurd.”
The story of Lucifer that you mention is yet another borrowed idea from a much older religion than Christianity. The idea is found originally in the teachings of Zoroaster who was a priest of Varuna prior to the writing of the Rig Veda. Zoroaster was rejected from the Vedic civilization for concocting many novel ideas such as the fall from the eternal kingdom, the devil, the first persons in the garden (Adam and Eve), powers of good and evil always in conflict, Armageddon, the day-of-judgment and an eternal kingdom on Earth after evil is destroyed. All these ideas were concocted by Zoroaster and later on transplanted in Judea after the Persian conquests (the fall of Babylon). In turn the ideas eventually found their way into Christianity and then Islam.
“Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami says that Christianity was made for meat eaters. This is incorrect. The Bible clearly states that we are to be vegetarians. If some do not adhere to this principle, we can¹t force them.”
The Bible is contradictory on the issue of vegetarianism. Nowhere does it explicitly state one must be a vegetarian to be a follower of Christ. In fact, according to the Bible the 12 Apostles objected to Paul allowing gentiles to not follow the dietary laws and other laws and rituals of Judaism. One of the laws Paul threw out was the kosher law, namely that all meat must be kosher which included the practice of draining the blood from the slaughtered animal. Thus the first Christians under Paul were allowed to eat both meat and blood. This was to include cows, goats, sheep, fish and even pigs, which Jews and the 12 Apostles never ate before. Jesus and the 12 Apostles considered pigs as unclean animals and thus unfit to eat.
So it can be said that not only were the first Christians not vegetarian but Paul even allowed them to eat blood and pigs. The original Christians were all meat eaters. There is really no doubt about this among Christian scholars and theologians.
According to the Bible, in the beginning Cain offered God grains and vegetables. His brother Abel offered a sacrificed goat. God rejected the vegetarian foodstuff offered by Caine but accepted the blood sacrifice of Abel. This does nothing to promote the God of the Old Testament, of which Jesus is saying we must love, as being inclined towards a vegetarian diet. According to the New Testament Jesus offered fish to the multitudes with his own hands. And Jesus asks us to engage in ritualistic cannibalism by eating his flesh and drinking his blood. Sorry to say but this is not the mentality of a vegetarian. You are simply reading into the Bible what you want to believe but the support is not actually there.
The meat eaters have a stronger argument for their case when it comes to diet and the fact that 99% of Christians are meat eaters speaks for itself. Christianity, Islam and Judaism are religions for the meat eaters as Srila Prabhupada clearly stated.
“Just like in India, in the name of Hinduism and Kali Puja, many goats are sacrificed and eaten.”
Yes, goats are sacrificed to Kali (but not Mother cow). Materialistic people in India believe that by such sacrifice they will be awarded some material benediction and have a better material life. They also believe the karma for killing the animal will be reduced by sacrificing it before the goddess. But this practice has nothing to do with Vaishnavism and love of God.
“In fact, there is still a temple in Calcutta that sacrifices children.”
Here you are speaking like a true Christian bigot. As far as sacrificing children in a temple in Kolkata is concerned – that is absolutely ridiculous. The truth is that it is anti-Hindu propaganda. We hear this type of rhetoric from Christians as a means to defile and smear India. This type of rhetoric is commonly spoken by those who have an extreme hatred and bias toward Hinduism. These types of lies are commonly coming from people intent on destroying India’s religious traditions and replacing it with Christian or Islamic values.
But since you have raised the topic of child sacrifice I would like to remind you that the ancient Hebrews were rich in the practice of human child sacrifices to the god Moloch who’s temple was situated in a valley not far from Jerusalem. The performance of human child sacrifice was practiced by the Hebrews in ancient times. This is a historically and archaeologically proven fact. These were the people from the house of David and Abraham from which Christianity also claims its roots. In fact, at one point in the Bible we find the story wherein God is asking Abraham to sacrifice his own son but in the last minute God opts for the sacrifice of a ram instead. The point being that human sacrifice was not unknown to the house of Abraham.
So before you go around fabricating stories about child sacrifice in Kolkata you would be better off to discover the alarming facts surrounding the descendants of Abraham and develop a little humility and shame for yourself.
The fact is that when the tribes of Abraham were performing human sacrifice at the same time the Vaishnavas in India were offering God Krishna fruits and flowers and singing his glories by chanting his holy names. The sub-human standards of worship and blood sacrifice that was being offered to Moloch by the Hebrews was known to the seers of Vedic culture at the time and those worshippers were called Mlecchas by the people living in India. Later on this name came to refer to anyone from the west living outside Vedic culture.
“And there is a temple where the rats are sacred and run all over the people. They get bit and get the plague. You can say this is not really Hinduism or Vaishnavism. Similarly, when people in the name of Christianity are eating meat, this isn’t true Christianity. If you want to call it maya or Satan, then be it so.”
Dale, you have been watching too many Indiana Jones movies! However, there is one temple in India where rats are fed and allowed to run free (Rajasthan’s famous Karni Mata Temple). Tourist, especially ‘western tourist’ love to go there and gawk. This temple was built in modern times and does not reflect India’s ageless theistic concepts.
As far as the plague is concerned there have been no cases of people being bitten at the Karni Mata Temple and then getting the plague. You are just listening to gossip and lies. Many people in the west have the idea that the plague is an everyday happening in India. This is due to Christian propaganda and not fact. But comparatively speaking Europe has suffered much more plague than India.
Incidentally, in the Dark Ages (the hay-day of Christendom) as much as two thirds of the population of Europe succumbed to the plague. Furthermore, if you take the Bible as the word of God then you must believe the plague originated in the land of the Hebrews as it is mentioned that God used it to curse the Philistines, the enemies of his so-called chosen people.
“Prabhupada says the Bible isn¹t an eternal scripture. Again that isn’t correct. As Jesus is eternal, His message is eternal. But because of man’s sin, there was no need for a scripture before that. And you cannot prove the eternality of the Vedas. It is only your word of what you believe. Before any written scripture was in effect, all were perfect in their understanding by the hearing process, shrautya. Before written scripture in any country this was the standard of the saints.”
Putting aside eternal or not eternal which is hard to prove let’s just say that the Vedas were written thousands of years before any of the Abrahamic literatures were ever invented. And that is historical fact recognized by all unbiased scholars in this age.
“Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita that many lives we all have had, but we can’t remember them, but he can. Then you can cite the example of Jada Bharata who took three lives and became a deer. You cannot prove this. It is only your belief system.”
What actually is your point here? Are you saying that neither Christianity or Vaishnavism can empirically prove their teachings? In matters of faith this might be so but there are volumes of knowledge in the Vedas that can be and have been empirically proven by modern scientific methods. Even such advanced physics theories such as parallel universes are mentioned in the Vedas and are now being investigated by science.
Furthermore, over the past 300 years much scientific evidence has been revealed that disproves the Biblical view of the world, its age, etc. So by comparison the Vedic knowledge is far superior to the Biblical knowledge and verifiable as well.
“Srila Prabhupada states that the spiritual master suffers the karma of their disciples, especially at initiation. He many times said the only reason he is suffering is because of the sinful reaction of his disciples. Then why does he belittle Jesus for the plan of redemption? Because of Christ’s love for you and me, He accepted that position to save the human race. No matter how much japa we chant, how many vratas we undertake, how many parikramas we do, nothing will free us from our sin. Only God, and God alone can free us. No man can do it, nor can we do it alone. That is why Christ appeared to redeem us. It was His Infinite Love. Christ Himself says, “without Me you can do nothing”.”
In the first place, Srila Prabhupada never belittled Jesus and he did not state ‘many times’ that he was suffering due to the sins of his disciples. In fact, Srila Prabhupada went out of his way not to offend Christians and to glorify Jesus and he did not blame his followers for his own suffering as you say he did.
The idea that Jesus or the guru takes the sins of his followers has its origins in the Veda. Once again we see how Christianity has borrowed ideas from other places. That the guru removes the karma or sins of his followers is well known to the followers of the Veda. But nowhere do we find God punishing Himself for the sins of man. This is an absurd idea. So we give logic as our evidence that the philosophy you follow is for no sane thinking person. By your logic God created imperfect beings who are prone to sinful activity. In other words, he made a mistake. Then he can’t figure out a way to correct his imperfect creatures. He made a mistake and must find an answer to correct his mistake. The only way he sees to redeem the world is to punish Himself? Then he appears as his own son just to be tortured and murdered for the mistakes of those he created imperfectly. No this is not the logic of saints.
“Prabhupada also quotes that Christians say that if we are sinful, we can stay in eternal hell. There is nowhere in the Bible that says God puts us in eternal hell. It just doesn’t exist. Thast¹s another example how Prabhupada really didn’t know the Bible nor do most of the human race. But there are some that do.”
Christians over all do teach that there is an eternal Hell. Your particular sect of Christianity (Seventh Day Adventists which began in the 1800s as a Christian cult) may not accept eternal Hell but for that all other Christians would consider you a heretic and thus possibly eligible to be burned alive. At least that is their past history.
It is nice that the Seventh Day Adventists do not accept the eternal hell concept and are trying to be better people by promoting vegetarianism, but the fact is that you are a small number of Christians whereas the bulk of Christianity does teach about eternal hell and advocates a meat based diet with great fervour. According to mainstream Christianity the Seventh Day Adventists are a cult the same as the Mormons.
“I could go on and on. Jesus was the Perfect Example of selfless love. Either Chaitanya left this world by entering Tota Gopinatha or jumped in the ocean. You can say he was absorbed in his own bhakti. But Christ, on the cross at His death wasn’t concerned for His welfare, but for the welfare of the people. Even He cared about those who were persecuting Him. He said, “My father, please forgive them for they know not what they are doing”. This is the epitome of selfless love.”
The idea that God should punish himself by his own death in my opinion smacks of your own envy of God. You want him to suffer because you think he made you suffer. Not a very loving conception if you ask me. Devotees of Krishna and Sri Chaitanya cannot even tolerate the thought that God should even suffer the trouble of walking bare foot on the earth what to speak of hanging on a cross for someone’s sins. But this seems to be a coveted Christian concept – God has to suffer! On the other hand, Vaishnavas want God to enjoy, not suffer.
Krishna’s and Sri Caitanya’s devotees are considered to be the mercy manifestation of God and as such they are thousands of more times more merciful than Jesus Christ. Take for example the devotee Vasudeva Datta who prayed to God that all living beings in the universe should automatically be freed from their sins and go back to Godhead and that he (Vasudeva Datta) would suffer for all their sins. Whereas, Jesus only prayed to God to forgive those who offended him. Vasudeva Datta was willing to bear the sins of the universe even if they did not know him or believe in him but Jesus only saves those who believe in him. So categorically Vasudeva Datta is much more merciful than Jesus.
You allude to a myth that the only way God can redeem the world is by a blood sacrifice. On the one hand you preach God punishes himself for the sins of man then you say he forgives those who are punishing him? This is contradictory and is evidence that you have no real philosophy. I will reiterate this point again, you say God creates imperfect beings, he cannot figure out a way to redeem them other than by punishing Himself, so He incarnates as His son. Then He is tortured and murdered. Before he dies he utters ‘forgive them’?
I must ask, forgive who? According to the Bible and your philosophy the whole thing is God’s plan. It would be a more believable story if Jesus thanked them for carrying out God’s plan. Why is there a need to forgive them when they are doing the will of God? You cannot see the absurdity of what you believe?
And to make matters even worse the Christian community blamed the Jews for the death of Jesus and thus gave birth to anti-Semitism causing the suffering and deaths of many innocent men, women, and children throughout the ages.
But if this were God’s plan to suffer himself on the cross, then why the blaming and killing of Jews?
“When Narottama Dasa was chanting his japa with his guru, Lokanatha Dasa Goswami, a poor and thirsty person came who was on the verge of collapsing. Narottama Dasa out of his compassionate heart stopped his japa to get her a drink of water. Lokanatha Goswami was outraged. He told Narottama Dasa that he made an offence to the chanting and banished him. You can say this was lila, but the fact remains that a human being needed water. Jesus says that He is that Living Water, and once drinking from Him, you will never thirst again. If you say that this was done because the chanting was more important, then I will say that you have an inferior religion and not Christianity. Don¹t try to make it that Hinduism is superior or more transcendental. If you think so, you are only fooling yourself and the followers who abide by such propaganda.”
Unless you can quote this story above from a verifiable Vaishnava source then it is useless to discuss because it is hearsay. The story as you tell it does not represent the true heart of a Vaishnava who is always compassionate for the suffering of others.
“Jesus Himself requested that His followers go to the highways and byways, to the ends of the earth to give His sublime gospel call. It is not for the exploitation that you state. You will never find the depth of love and mercy that is in Christ Jesus. He is a loving God and will never force. He is ready to accept you if you come with a contrite heart and seek His mercy. Jesus is not a liar. He said that He will return. We accept that.”
What “sublime gospel call” are you talking about? I hope it’s not the one about “love thy neighbour”? If so you should remember that the Buddha preached about love thy neighbour, nonviolence, vegetarianism and lots more several centuries before anyone ever heard about Christ. In fact, those sorts of principles were common in all the Vedic religions thousands of years before Jesus. So why is he so special when every sadhu (saint) in India for the past 10,000 years has demonstrated such qualities and more. Every quality except the quality of having himself killed on a cross to save his followers. A ludicrous concept as we have already discussed.
Basically you are simply ‘love bombing’ with all this ‘love’ talk. This is the latest method of deception now used by Christians worldwide. But ‘love bombing’ is just a ploy used because Christians can no longer get away with their original methods of forced conversions, aggression and intimidation in the modern democratic countries that promote pluralism of thought.
The history of Christianity paints a different picture than the ‘love bombing’ picture you and your preachers are trying to project. History does indeed record Christianity as being an aggressive plunderer. The fact is Christianity is an aggressive religion that has plundered Mother Earth and her people for two thousand years and it is about time the truth was spoken.
Your claims of Jesus coming soon has echoed through the ages (for the past 2000 years). Every generation of Christians has claimed Jesus was coming in their time and now you are saying the same thing. The fact is that the first 12 Apostles claimed he was coming in their time also. And the Bible states clearly that Jesus was expected to return shortly after his death on the cross. But after all this time Jesus has not appeared. Instead the earth has suffered at the hands of those who exploit her in the name of the Bible and Jesus.
My dear Dale, Mother Earth can no longer bear the burden of Christianity and that is why your religion is being taken apart brick by brick. The western world has changed in the last 2,000 years and intelligent people are no longer inclined toward superstitious illogical doctrines. Christianity had its chance and its time is over. We are seeing its demise and we welcome it. Let Mother Earth be relieved of this heavy burden.
OM TAT SAT