I did a quick search for blogs concerning Hare Krishna topics. I came across one that compared it with Christianity. It stated that Hare Krishna’s need to perform good deeds and earn merit for these in order to wash away their karma.
Now is it just me who thinks otherwise? Or does this view need some polishing?
I may be mistaken about some things so forgive my errors. I will try to be as accurate as I can. Feel free to correct my mistakes… with a smile, of course 🙂
So, according to what I know, based on the article I read, Christians do not believe that good deeds can get them entry into Heaven. All they need is belief in Jesus Christ, and salvation is theirs. A thought that often occurs to me is what if someone believes in God and His Son, but they’re not very good people. Some may say that once you give your life to God, all your bad qualities just simmer away (I am of this opinion – I have experienced this. Perhaps not on a large scale, but somewhat nevertheless). I suppose that there is a possibility that someone might love God and still perform deeds that are definitely not considered “good”. Perhaps I am taking this quote out of context here, but it seems to explain that even deeds are taken into consideration after death:
“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter.” (Matthew 7:21)
So would it be safe to take it to mean that actions along with faith and love for God go hand-in-hand?
The Vaishnava (Hare Krishna) belief, of course, includes karma. I recently had a discussion with a devotee about what karma is, and how to balance out karma. Karma basically means the outcome of your actions. The consequences. Perhaps explained by the law that states every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Perhaps by the proverb, “As you sow, so shall you reap”. Back in school, in a Hinduism course, I learned that everyone earns good or bad karma depending on their deeds. And this needs to amount to nil in order to escape the cycle of birth and death, or samsara. If you have karma left over, you need to reincarnate again, in any form, and balance out your karma. I read this statement just once, and it confused me but I focused more on the idea of having to reduce your bad karma. I couldn’t understand why we needed to balance out the good karma, and how that would even be possible since God would ideally have us live good lives and do good deeds. However, perhaps the proverb, “One good turn deserves another” might explain this. Perhaps a good return is due and that’s why we must come back. I’m not so clear about this though, but it makes sense for now.
And so, I asked my devotee friend how it would be possible for us to wipe out our good and bad karma. Lord Krishna says that we should perform nish kama karma – we must act selflessly, without thinking of reaping the fruits of our actions, without attachment i.e. we must offer the outcome and consequences, basically our thoughts, words and actions, to Him. We must perform our duties as well as we can. In this way, we do not incur sinful reactions from performing deeds. The Lord would like us to stay in the sattvic mode (the mode of goodness). Ergo, it is suggested that we always perform good deeds and always remember Krishna. The Lord watches what we do. By offering our actions to the Lord and always remembering Him, I think people will be more likely to be good. They will constantly be reminded of how God would like them to live. This I believe applies to any religion. The outcomes or reactions of bad karma are reduced by giving ourselves to God. We will not suffer with Krishna as much as we would without Him. For instance, if my karma dictates that I will get into an accident while crossing the road, I will get into that accident. However, with Krishna, I will escape with minor injuries or perhaps none at all, rather than with broken ribs or something of that sort. The effect of bad karma is lessened or reduced. We are not exempt from the laws of karma, but with God, we are in better positions than we would have been.
I remember reading someone’s views on Hinduism some time ago. About how there is no forgiveness in Hinduism because of karma, and how Christians are forgiven for their sins through grace. It’s tug of war: karma vs. grace. While Krishna Consciousness is similar to Hinduism, it differs in some ways. I cannot speak much for the Hindu point of view, but from the Krishna Conscious point of view, reaching God is not possible without faith in Him. As I mentioned above, the Lord wants everyone to be good people. The Lord wants to love and be loved. Getting rid of your karma is not possible if you don’t offer your life, your thoughts, words and actions, if you don’t offer yourself to God. So yeah, according to the Vaishnava beliefs (as I know it), “good deeds are not enough”. Good things happen in return, but it’s not enough to get you to live with God. In Christianity as I see it, sins are forgiven if you confess belief in Jesus Christ. I would assume people would have to confess their sins, repent, and not perform them again. If someone apologizes, but still keeps making the same mistake, the apology hardly holds any value or meaning. To me, this seems like deeds are an important consideration.
The points I’m trying to put across is:
1. No, I do not believe I can live with God after death by just performing good deeds. Krishna Consciousness is centered on the idea of loving devotion towards God.
2. I believe that Christians are also subject to the reactions of action. “As you sow, so shall you reap.” Everyone is subject to this. And what I quoted earlier from the Bible makes me think that God does look at how we live our lives.
I’m a bit tired of hearing about how no one is forgiven with Krishna.That was why I wrote this blog entry about it. I do plan to discuss Forgiveness in Krishna Consciousness with a few devotee friends some time. Perhaps I will blog about it. Meanwhile, here are some quotes regarding forgiveness taken from various Krishna Conscious literature:
“Addressing Dhritarashtra, Vidura said: “There is one only defect in forgiving persons, and not another; that defect is that people take a forgiving person to be weak. That defect, however, should not be taken into consideration, for forgiveness is a great power. Forgiveness is a virtue of the weak, and an ornament of the strong. Forgiveness subdues (all) in this world; what is there that forgiveness cannot achieve? What can a wicked person do unto him who carries the sabre of forgiveness in his hand? Fire falling on the grassless ground is extinguished of itself. And unforgiving individual defiles himself with many enormities. Righteousness is the one highest good; and forgiveness is the one supreme peace; knowledge is one supreme contentment; and benevolence, one sole happiness.” (From the Mahabharata, Udyoga Parva Section XXXIII, Translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli).” [Taken from Wikipedia]
“We brahmanas are worshipable by others only due to our quality of forgiveness. It is through this quality of forgiveness that Lord Brahma has achieved the post of master of the entire universe. The Supreme Personality of Godhead Lord Hari, the remover of obstacles, becomes pleased with those who are forgiving. Forgiveness is illuminating like the sun, and cultivation of this quality is the brahmana’s duty.” – Srimad Bhagavatam 9.15.39 – 41
Note: Brahmana means one who is spiritually inclined and intellectual. Someone who is always honest, practises cleanliness, and whose mind is steady. It is not a “high class group of people more superior to others”.
“Having awakened faith in the narrations of My glories, being disgusted with all material activities, knowing that all sense gratification leads to misery, but still being unable to renounce all sense enjoyment, My devotee should remain happy and worship Me with great faith and conviction. Even though he is sometimes engaged in sense enjoyment, My devotee knows that all sense gratification leads to a miserable result, and he sincerely repents such activities.” – Srimad Bhagavatam 11.20.27-28
“Even if one commits the most abominable action, if he is engaged in devotional service he is to be considered saintly because he is properly situated in his determination.” – Bhagavad Gita 9.30
Note: I would like to add here that this quote does not encourage bad deeds. It emphasizes on the power of devotional service. It is an offense to knowingly commit a sin or perform wrong activities and claim that we will be forgiven because we are chanting, or Krishna will protect us. We cannot escape the reactions of such actions. This verse serves as motivation for those who stumble along the devotional path but are sincere. Srila Prabhupada’s purport of this verse can be found here http://www.asitis.com/9/30.html.
PS. I apologize if i have misquoted, misread, misinterpreted, or misunderstood anything. I am not well-versed in these subjects and so, I have written this entry according to my knowledge. Feel free to correct me, or post your own opinions and interpretations 🙂
Take care, all.