BBC News – TIM GARDAM – Sep 11, 2011
Throughout the 20th Century, Christianity was associated with Western imperialism. After the Communist victory in 1948, the missionaries were expelled, but Christianity was permitted in state-sanctioned churches, so long as they gave their primary allegiance to the Communist Party.
Mao, on the other hand, described religion as “poison”, and the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and 70s attempted to eradicate it. Driven underground, Christianity not only survived, but with its own Chinese martyrs, it grew in strength.
Since the 1980s, when religious belief was again permitted, the official Churches have gradually created more space for themselves.
They report to the State Administration for Religious Affairs. They are forbidden to take part in any religious activity outside their places of worship and sign up to the slogan, “Love the country – love your religion.”
In return the Party promotes atheism in schools but undertakes “to protect and respect religion until such time as religion itself will disappear”.Go to story
Dharma means it is translated into English as “religion.” And religion means a kind of faith. But so far the Sanskrit word dharma is there, it does not mean a kind of faith. It is a fact. It is a fact. Faith, you can believe for some time and again you can reject. That is faith. But what is fact, that cannot be changed. Just like water: water is liquid. That is a fact. It is not a kind of faith, it is a fact. You cannot make water solid. As soon as you talk of water, you have got immediate knowledge that it is a liquid thing. Similarly, if you take stone, the quality of stone: it is hard; it is not liquid. If somebody says, “I have brought some liquid stone.” Is it possible? No, what is this nonsense? So dharma means that quality which cannot be changed. As soon as you take water, it must be liquid. You can say that water sometimes becomes ice, very hard. But that is not the natural state. Ice is there, but it is trying to come to the natural state to become again liquid. Again liquid. Because liquidity is the natural state of water. It cannot be changed. Similarly dharma means… the exact word, in Sanskrit — those who are Sanskrit scholars here, they will understand — dharma means you cannot change. That is not possible. In any circumstances, you cannot change.
So here it is said, kaumaram acharet prajno dharman. Dharman bhagavata. So dharma, that is one for everyone. It is not that we are Hindus, somebody else Christians, somebody else Buddhists, “we have got different faith,” [and someone else says:] “we have got different faith.” What is depending on faith, that is not dharma, that is not religion. The quality which you cannot change, that is religion.
Therefore, the definition of dharma is given in the Vedic literature: dharmam tu sakshad bhagavat-pranitam [SB 6.3.19]. Dharma means the codes or the laws which is given by God. This is the simple definition of dharma. Dharmam tu sakshad bhagavat-pranitam [SB 6.3.19]. Just like law. What is that law? Law means the codes or the order given by the state. That is law. You cannot manufacture law at home, that “I have manufactured something.” So at the present moment the so-called religion is going on in the name that it is religion but it is manufactured by some concoction and it is being supported by persons that “You can manufacture your own religion.” No, that you cannot. You cannot manufacture your own religion. Religion means the codes given by God. Just like law means the order given by the state. Just like the law is “keep to the right.” That is given, the order is given by the state. You cannot say, that “Now I have made a law, keep to the left.” That is not possible. Nobody will be pleased or nobody will accept that. Dharma you cannot change.
So Prahlada Maharaja says, kaumara acharet prajno dharman bhagavatan iha [SB 7.6.1]. “My dear friends, from the beginning of your kaumara age, as soon as you are on the age of ten years,”… Of course, he was preaching when he was five years old. Actually, education begins, that is the Indian system, from five years. Up to five years, the children are not bothered with any kind of education. They play and become free. But as soon as he is five years old, he’s sent to the school. And actual education begins from tenth year. So Prahlada Maharaja says, “My dear friends, that, you try to be educated in religion, especially in the Bhagavata religion.” Bhagavata religion means the Science of God, to understand what is God.
So why it is so urgent? That is replied here. Durlabham manusham janma. This human form of life is very rarely obtained. As I have explained, that, there are 8,400,000 species of life. But unfortunately, there is no proper education how the living entity, what is that living entity and how it is transmigrating from one body to another? Tatha dehantara-praptir. In the Bhagavad-gita you’ll find, dehino ‘smin yatha dehe kaumaram yauvanam jara tatha dehantara-praptir [Bg. 2.13]. Krishna says, the authoritative knowledge, that, as the soul, dehi, the proprietor of the body. We do not know whether I am this body or I am the proprietor of this body. That knowledge is also lacking. Big, big professors, they do not know. I was talking in Moscow, one big professor, Professor Kotofsky, he said: “Swamiji, after this body’s finished, everything is finished.” This is their knowledge. Blunt knowledge. No, it is not finished. We get from the Vedic literature: na hanyate hanyamane sharire [Bg. 2.20]. Nityo shashvato yam na jayate na mriyate va kadachit. The soul is eternal. Soul is eternal and soul does not take birth. The body, we get a new body, that is called birth. And when this body is annihilated, that is called death. So birth and death is in reference with the body, not with the soul.
… I am not this body; that is the fact. The example is given. What is that? Dehino asmin dehe, in this body there is the proprietor, the soul. Dehino ‘smin yatha dehe [Bg. 2.13]. Within this body, there is proprietor. And he’s changing bodies. Just like the same soul in a childhood body, in a boyhood body, in a youth-hood body. Then again in a body like me, an old body. So all the previous bodies, they are now finished. Although I know I am soul, I know that I possessed a childhood body, I possessed a boyhood body, I possessed a youthful body, those bodies are not existing. They are finished. But I am existing. I know. Therefore this is very simply formula Krishna gives. Dehino ‘smin yatha dehe kaumaram yauvanam jara [Bg. 2.13]. This body is changing, but the soul is eternal. Nityo shashvato yam purano. Although it is very, very old. Because soul is the part and parcel of God. As God is existing eternally, similarly, the soul is also existing eternally. This is a great science.
Therefore Prahlada Maharaja is requesting, “My dear friends, you try to learn this science,” dharman bhagavatan iha, “from this very childhood life.” Because this human form of life, he says that, durlabham manusham janma. Manusham janma, this form of body we have got by evolutionary process. It is a chance given by nature to understand what is God. This is the main business of this body. Not that economic development. That is not the business of human body. Nor sense gratification. Sense gratification is there in the animals. That is stated in the Srimad-Bhagavatam [5.5.1]. Nayam deho deha-bhajam nriloke kashtan kaman arhate vid-bhujam ye. The human form of life is not meant for to live like the dogs and the hogs. They are busy always for maintaining the body. They are busy. They have no other business. They cannot understand. If I bring some dog in this meeting and try to make him understand, “Please note that you are not this body,” it is not possible for him to understand. But a human being, he may be educated like dogs and hog, but if he’s given reasonably the facts, as Krishna is giving, that the soul is the proprietor of this body… He’s changing in this body. … Baby means he has got a baby’s body. Young man means he has a youth’s body. So this body has been changed. Similarly when this body is useless, no more can be used, then he transmigrates to another body.
… Now what kind of body he’s going to get? Because I have already explained. There are 8,400,000 different forms of body. So the answer is he can get any of these forms. There is no guarantee that he will again get the American body or Englishmen body or Swiss body — not like that. That will depend on nature. That is not in your hand. As soon as you change your body, the next change will be offered by nature according to your desire. So in this life we are creating different types of desires. Therefore, we find different types of bodies. This is nature’s work. Prakriteh kriyamanani gunaih karmani sarvashah [Bg. 3.27]. Don’t think that you are independent. None of us are independent. We may think independently that “There is no God, there is no nature’s work, we are everything.” Crazy statements may be there, but there is good management, beyond our conception. As you see there is good management in the natures — exactly in due course of time the sun is rising, the moon is rising, the seasons are being changed, the water is there in the ocean, it is not transgressing the limit, the Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean. There is full control of the material nature. And behind this material nature, there is God. Prakriteh kriyamanani [Bg. 3.27]. Prakriti, nature is working, but nature is working under the direction of God. That we get information from this Vedic literature.
Don’t think nature is blind. Nature is matter, material energy. It cannot work independently, just like machine. Machine, it is made of matter. But if there is no driver, however efficient machine may be, it is useless, a lump of matter (only). There must be driver. Similarly, whatever wonderful activities you find within this material nature, that is not being done independently. That is being done under the driver. Just like the big car or this airship is running very nicely so long the pilot is there, so long the driver is there. Without pilot, even the arrangement is very nice, good machinery assembly, but it cannot work. Similarly, this nature, although we find very wonderfully working, but behind this nature, there is the living entity, supreme living entity, God.
So to understand that God, how He is working, what we are, what is our relationship with God, why we are here, why we are transmigrating from one body to another — all these are called bhagavata-dharma.
Bhagavata means in relationship with God. So our, this Krishna consciousness movement is bhagavata-dharma. Bhagavata-dharma means we are presenting God. People are searching out whether there is God, God is dead or alive. But we are giving, “Here is God. Here is His name, here is His address, here is His activities.” Everything we are giving distinctly. Not blindly, but there is philosophy, there is reason, there is logic, and these are all stated in the Srimad-Bhagavatam, sixty volumes.
So Prahlada Maharaja says that everyone from the very childhood, that means when education begins, this bhagavata-dharma. Otherwise, we are missing the point. We are missing the opportunity of this human form of life. We are simply living like cats and dogs and dying like cats and dogs. And if we maintain that mentality like cats and dogs, then next life… Because we are given the opportunity by nature to utilize our consciousness, to utilize our intelligence, to understand God. But if we do not utilize, if we live like cats and dogs, then next life we have to accept, by nature’s law, the body of cats and dog. This is bhagavata-dharma. This is an opportunity. Here is the opportunity to make your choice whether again you are going to be cats and dogs or whether you are going to be elevated to the highest position, back to home, back to Godhead. That is highest perfection. Na te vidhuh svartha-gatim hi vishnum.
Practically, the so-called civilized men at the present moment, they do not know what is the actual goal of life. The Prahlada Maharaja advising, although he’s a child, but he has heard from authority, from Narada Muni, therefore he’s instructing his class friend. Because his father was a great atheist, Hiranyakashipu. He was very angry. When Prahlada Maharaja used to talk of God consciousness, he was very much disturbed, he used to chastise him, “Wherefrom this nonsense boy has learned this God, God, God?” He was very much disturbed. So he was very afraid of his father at home. But in the school, as soon as the teachers were away, tiffin hour, he would take the opportunity and preach something about God. That is the statement here. So he says, durlabham manusham: “My dear friends, this human form of life is very rarely obtained.” Durlabham manusham janma tad apy adhruvam. Adhruvam means it will also not stay. “Because I have got this human form of body, therefore, I’ll live forever.” No. I’ll have to die like cats and dog. But because I have got this human form of life, I can understand what is the truth. That is my opportunity. Durlabham manusham janma tad apy adhruvam. It will not stay.
… So the human form of life is meant for that purpose, but there is no facility in the educational institution. Many universities there may be, but not very perfectly well-situated. But we are trying our bid, this Krishna consciousness movement, to give education about this bhagavata-dharma, and we are trying to present in so many languages. So we wish that you should cooperate, try to understand this philosophy. We have got books, we have got talks. Any way we can convince you about this philosophy of God consciousness, I hope you’ll take advantage of it. Not only that, it is very easy. It is not very difficult. Just like you see all our students, they come from Europe, America. Four or five years ago they did not know what is this bhagavata-dharma, what is this Krishna. Now you can see the result, that all over the world, not only in Europe, but in America, Australia, in Japan, in Canada, everywhere, we have got this type of devotees, and they are understanding what is God, what is our relationship with God.
It doesn’t matter, God is neither Hindu, Muslim, or Christian — God is God. So it is the duty of everyone. It is not that only Christians should understand God and the Hindus should understand nobody. No. Any human being. Any living entity in the human form of life must understand. Otherwise, he’s missing the opportunity. So we have got to say many things about this thing. In short time, we cannot speak so many things, but we invite you to take advantage of this movement, try to understand the science of God and be benefited.
GIRL: …you cannot change dharma. But love can change dharma.
PRABHUPADA: First of all, you have to understand what is dharma. Dharma, as I have already explained, is the order given by God. That is dharma. And what is the order of God? God says that “You surrender unto Me.” Man-mana bhava mad-bhakto mad-yaji mam namaskuru [Bg. 18.65]. God says that “You always think of Me,” and, man-mana bhava mad-bhakto, “You just become My devotee,” and, man-mana bhava, mad-yaji, “You worship Me, and you offer your obeisances.”
These things we are doing. We are thinking of somebody. Because without thinking you cannot remain. But God says, “You think of Me.” You cannot avoid thinking of somebody. Just like a girl is thinking of her lover, a boy, a boy is thinking of his lover. So we must be thinking of somebody. Or in grown-up stage, I am thinking something else, my child, my home. So Krishna says, God says, that “You think of Me.” So you have to change your thinking process. Man-mana bhava mad-bhakto. And we are already devotees. We are devotees of the country, of the society, of the person, of the president, of the king, so many. God says, that, “You become My devotee.” Man-mana bhava mad-bhakto. Mad-yaji: We are worshiping our leader. So God is the supreme leader.
Therefore, this question I put to Professor Kotovsky, that “Your philosophy, Communist philosophy, and our philosophy, where is the philosophically different? Because you have selected a leader, Lenin, and you are worshiping him. And we have selected a leader, Krishna, we are also worshiping Him. So where is the change? How we have advanced? You have selected another leader, that’s all. You have to select. So the worship must go on. Either you become Communist or not Communist.” So God says that “Instead of worshiping so many others, you worship Me.” So, and man-mana bhava mad-bhakto mad-yaji mam namaskuru [Bg. 18.65]. And “You offer my respect to Me.” So these things… You may accept any type of religion; that doesn’t matter. But think of God, worshiping God, offering obeisances God, that cannot be changed. Either you become Christian or Hindu or Muslim, it does not matter. These four things cannot be changed. Therefore, the principles of religion: thinking of God, worshiping God, offering obeisances to Him, and to become devotee of God, that cannot be changed. That is real religion.