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From: Krishna Susarla (krishna_at_tumora.swmed.edu)
Date: Sat Jan 08 2000 - 07:15:09 PST
From: Rajaram Venkataramani <firstname.lastname@example.org> > Sages in Naimisaranya ask Suta Goswami about "What is a bonafide religion" > Suta Goswami answers by saying "Any religion that cultivates unadulterated > love of the Supreme Lord is bonafide". This is not exactly correct. What the sages ask is as follows: tatra traa~njasayuShman bhavataa yad vinishchitam | pu.msaam ekaantataH shreyas tan naH sha.msitum arhasi || bhaa 1.1.9 || Please, therefore, being blessed with many years, explain to us, in an easily understandable way, what you have ascertained to be the absolute and ultimate good for the people in general (bhaagavata puraaNa 1.1.9). bhuuriiNi bhuurikarmaaNi shrotavyaani vibhaagashaH | ataH saadho'tra yat saara.m samuddhR^itya maniiShayaa | bruuhi bhadraaya bhuutaanaam yenaatmaa suprasiidati || bhaa 1.1.11 || There are many varieties of scriptures, and in all of them there are many prescribed duties, which can be learned only after many years of study in their various divisions. Therefore, O sage, please select the essence of all these scriptures and explain it for the good of all living beings, that by such instruction their hearts may be fully satisfied (bhaagavata puraaNa 1.1.11). and then Suuta responds as follows: munayaH saadhu pR^iShTo'ham bhavadbhir lokama.ngalam | yat kR^itaH kR^iShNasamprashno yenaatmaa suprasiidati || bhaa 1.2.5 || O sages, I have been justly questioned by you. Your questions are worthy because they relate to Lord Krishna and so are of relevance to the world's welfare. Only questions of this sort are capable of completely satisfying the self (bhaagavata puraaNa 1.2.5). The actual fact is a little different, as I am sure you can see. The sages don't ask for the characteristics of genuine religion. They simply ask for the ultimate good of all men and the essence of all Vedic scriptures (which might not be understood properly given that they speak of many dharmas, and people in Kali Yuga in general are not intelligent enough to grasp their meaning). And Suuta does not speak of God in any abstract way - he specifically mentions Lord Krishna. There is nothing here to indicate that any other non-Vedic concept of God is being entertained. Therefore, the evidence does not support the idea that Suuta is speaking in a general way about any religion, or that he is suggesting that any religion which teaches love of its concept of God is also bona fide. There is no evidence in the Bhaagavatam as far as I know that any religion other than sanaatana-dharma is considered bona fide. > In that sense, pure form of Christianity or Islam are definitely bonafide > because they preach love of God. Whether they teach love or not is questionable - is it really love to be taught that one should worship someone in order to avoid being thrown into hell? And are they really teaching love of God? Shriiman Naaraayana is God. There can be no other supreme God. Given that, and assuming the historical truth behind such non Vedic scriptures as say, Exodus, are we really prepared to accept that it was in fact Shriiman Naaraayana who is the God being referred to in them? Are we prepared to accept that it was Shriiman Naaraayan who told the Hebrews that they were His chosen people, and who caused all kinds of suffering to the Egyptians, and who told His people that "thou shalt have no other gods before me... for I the Lord am a jealous God...." etc? I suppose it is possible, but personally, I reserve the right to be skeptical. The kinds of statements and actions attributed to God by some of these non-Vedic scriptures don't seem in character with Him as He is revealed to us in the Bhaagavatam. From: <Mrgerald@aol.com> > Here is the ISKCON list of interreligious books: > > Steven Rosen (Satyaraja) > + East West Dialogues (Christianity related) > +Om Shalom (Jewish related) I have experience with these two books, having read them cover to cover. While I think Satyaraja's writings are thought provoking, it's pretty clear that the books don't prove in a scholarly way what he wants to prove - that the other religions are ultimately leading to the same Supreme Lord that our Vedas speak of. Again, I think that if one starts with the assumption that the supreme goal of all the religions is the same, it might be possible to manipulate the evidence in such a way as to show this. But from a scholarly point of view, that is, one based on shaastric pramaanams, I don't see why one necessarily would be constrained to start with this assumption, however appealing it might be to our sentiments.