The Burning Cross

BY: PRADEEP SHARMA


Jan 18, USA (SUN) — Several years ago I wrote three articles that were posted on the internet called the Burning Cross, part one, two, and three. Since that time I have received hundreds of emails filled with questions, comments, and particularly the repeated request to establish a website to thoroughly examine the issue of Christianity and Vaishnavism from a historical and theological point of view. This I felt was a task too great for one man and so I began to look around for other devotees, both men and women, who would be interested in helping me with the necessary research and writing that would be required for such an undertaking. By the grace of Krishna I was successful and was able to put together a team of researchers and writers dedicated to the task.

We have uploaded the site “The Burning Cross” and we invite all theologically and historically minded devotees to visit our website [www.burningcross.net]. While doing so if this is your first experience with a deep look at the similarities and differences between Christianity and Vaishnavism then your prior assumptions may feel challenged. If however you have already come in contact with this body of information then the Burning Cross website has some great materials that you will want to look at more closely.

To give the Vaishnava community and the Sampradaya Sun readers a preview of what to expect on the Burning Cross website we give you the following quote from Shreela A.C. Bhakti Vedanta Swami Prabhupada and then from Shreela Bhaktivinode Thakura: From Shreela A.C. Bhakti Vedanta Swami Prabhupada:

"The sastras of the yavanas, or meat-eaters, are not eternal scriptures. They have been fashioned recently, and sometimes they contradict one another. The scriptures of the yavanas are three: the Old Testament, the New Testament and the Koran. Their compilation has a history; they are not eternal like the Vedic knowledge. Therefore although they have their arguments and reasoning, they are not very sound and transcendental. As such, modern people advanced in science and philosophy deem these scriptures unacceptable.”

From Tattva-viveka by Bhaktivinode Thakura
Text 25

adi-jivaparadhad vai
sarvesam bandhanam dhruvam
tathanya-jiva-bhutasya
vibhor dandena niskrtih

“Some philosophers say that because of the first living entity's sin all the other living entities are imprisoned in the material world. Later, punishing Himself for their sins, God delivers the living entities.”

Commentary by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura

Deliberating on the virtues and faults of this world, some moralistic monotheists concluded that the material world is not a place of pure happiness. Indeed, the sufferings outweigh the pleasures. They claim that the material world is a prison to punish the living entities. If there is punishment, then there must be a crime. If there were no crime, then why would there be any punishment? What crime did the living entities commit? Unable to properly answer this question, some men of small intelligence gave birth to a very wild idea. God created the first man and placed him in a pleasant garden with his wife. Then God forbade the man to taste the fruit of the tree of knowledge. Following the evil counsel of a wicked being, the first man and woman tasted the fruit of the tree of knowledge, thus disobeying God's command. In this way they fell from that garden into the material world filled with sufferings. Because of their offense, all other living entities are offenders from the moment of their birth. Not seeing any other way to remove this offense, God Himself took birth in a humanlike form, took on His own shoulders the sins of His followers, and then died. All who follow Him easily attain liberation, and all who do not follow Him fall into an eternal hell. In this way God assumes a humanlike form, punishes Himself, and thus liberates the living entities. An intelligent person cannot make sense of any of this.

Text 26

janmato jiva-sambhavo
maranante na janma vai
yat-krtam samsrtau tena
jivasya caramam phalam

"(These philosophers say that) the living entity's life begins at birth and ends with death. After death, he is not born again. After death he attains the results of his actions in that one lifetime.”

Commentary by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura

To accept this mixed-up religion one must first believe these rather implausible things: "The living entity's life begins at birth and ends at death. Before birth the living entity did not exist, and after death the living entity will no longer stay in the world of material activities. Only human beings have souls. Other creatures do not have souls." Only extremely unintelligent persons believe this religion. In this religion the living entity is not spiritual in nature. By His own will God created the living entities out of matter. Why are the living entities born into very different situations? The followers of this religion cannot say. Why is one living entity born into a house filled with sufferings, another living entity born into a house filled with joys, another living entity born into the house of a person devoted to God, and another living enttity born into a wicked atheist's house? Why is one person born in a situation where he is encouraged to perform pious deeds, and he performs pious deeds and becomes good? Why is another person born in a situation where he is encouraged to sin, and he sins and becomes bad? The followers of this religion cannot answer all these questions. Their religion seems to say that God is unfair and irrational.

Why do they say that animals have no souls? Why do birds and beasts not have souls like human beings? Why do the human beings have only one life, and, because of their actions in that one life are rewarded in eternal heaven or punished with eternal hell? Any person who believes in a truly kind and merciful God will find this religion completely unacceptable.

Text 27

atra sthitasya jivasya
karma-jnananusilanat
visvonnati-vidhanena
kartavyam isa-tosanam

"(These philosophers say that) by cultivating fruitive work and speculative philosophy one should make improvements in the material world and in this way please God.”

Commentary by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura

The followers of this religion 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 and in this way please God. By building hospitals and schools, and by doing various philanthropic works, they try to do good to the world and thus please God. Worship of God by performing fuitive work (karma) and by engaging in philosophical speculation (jnana) is very important to them. They have no power to understand pure devotional service (suddha-bhakti), which is free of fruitive work and philosophical speculation. Worship of God done out of a sense of duty is never natural or unselfish. "God has been kind to us, and therefore we should worship Him." These are the thoughts of lesser minds. Why is this not a good way to worship God? Because one may think, "If God is not kind to me, then I will not worship Him." In this way one has the selfish, bad desire to get God's kindness in the future. If one wishes that God will be kind by allowing one to serve Him, then there is nothing wrong with that desire. But the religion under discussion does not see it in that way. This religion sees God's kindness in terms of one's enjoying a happy life in this material world.


Pradeep Sharma
(pradeep5808@yahoo.com)



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