The letter by Srila Prabhupada to The Pope is as much relevant today as it was in 1968 in fact in my opinion it has gotten worse. Please read carefully the type of culture we are actively promoting for ourselves and our children. As Mahatma Gandhi said "be the change you want to see in the world" and so in that spirit, let us vow to make that change within our heart from materialism to God-centric and in time spread that consciousness to others. The change begins with us. Please read the letter - Hare Krishna.
AN OPEN LETTER TO POPE PAUL VI From A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
ISKCON Radha-Krishna Temple
3720 Avenue Du Parc
August 3, 1968
His Holiness Pope Paul VI
Vicar of Jesus Christ
State of Vatican
Please accept my respectful humble obeisances at your Lotus Feet. I beg to introduce myself as an Indian monk, following the Vedic principles of religious life. At the present, I am in the renounced order of Sannyas, aged 72 years, and am preaching God consciousness all over the world. I came to America in 1965, and since then I have many followers belonging to both Christian and Jewish faiths. And I have established a number of Krishna Consciousness temples in the USA and Canada. In the coming months, I am scheduled to go to London on this mission, and maybe I can visit other cities of European countries.
My mission is in the line of Lord Chaitanya, Who is personified Love of Godhead, and Who advented Himself 482 years ago in India, and preached God consciousness all over the world, on the basis of Srimad Bhagwatam (The Science of God). The principle of Srimad Bhagwatam is that any religious faith which helps a man to develop love of God, without any motives, and without being hampered by any material condition, is transcendental religion. And the best process or the easiest process, in this age especially, is to chant the Holy Name of God. From this definition of religion as we find it in the Srimad Bhagwatam, the criterion of religion is how it helps people to develop their dormant love of God. This is not artificially invoked, but it is aroused from within, due to bona fide association with devotees, and by hearing about God.
The human form of life is especially meant for this purpose, namely, to invoke the dormant love of God, because a higher development of consciousness is found in both man and animals. But the special significance of human life is to achieve love of God as the prime perfection of life. Unfortunately, at the present moment people are more concerned about the principle of sense gratification, or the animal part of human life, and they are gradually declining in God consciousness. This tendency is very much increasing, and because Your Holiness is the head of a great religious sect, I think we should meet together and chalk out a program for cooperation.
Human society cannot any longer be allowed to continue a Godless civilization at the risk of decreasing truthfulness, hygienic principles and mercifulness. Because, on account of the decline of these principles at the present moment, the duration of life, strength and memory of the human being is decreasing. Human society is gradually devolving in the matter of religiousness and justice; and "might is right" is gradually taking the place of morality and justice. There is practically no more family life, and the union of man and woman is gradually coming to the standard of sexuality. I understand it from reliable sources that people are trying to get Your Holiness' sanction for the contraceptive method, which is certainly against any religion of the world. In the Hindu religion, such contraceptive method and abortion are considered equivalent to murder.
Therefore, in the matter of sex, the human society is gradually becoming even less than animals. As a result of unrestricted sense gratification, even in ordinary dealing a man cannot trust another man, because the cheating propensity of man has increased beyond imagination. The attraction of young boys for young girls is no longer even a matter of love, but exists only on the basis of sexual potency. And as soon as there is a slackening of sex life, there is immediately a divorce petition.
In India, which was once the land of religion and Brahminical culture, things have deteriorated to such an extent that a man in a higher caste is recognized simply by putting a piece of thread on his body as a sign of sanctity. The so-called Swamis are cheating the public because the public wants to be cheated by some cheap method of self-realization. And today, if someone has no sufficient money, it is very hard for him to get justice from the court. And if anyone can simply bluff by so-called advancement of knowledge, he is offered the doctorate degree. If a man is falsely proud, he is accepted as civilized.
By frustration, people are gradually becoming communists and hippies, and the guardians of society must now take up the situation very seriously, without further delay.
The Krishna Consciousness movement is meant for overhauling the whole situation. We are creating men of character, and we are training our disciples to becoming lovers of God, or Krishna. From the very beginning, they are trained to refrain from the following four principles of degradation: 1) sex life outside of marriage, 2) meat-eating, or the eating of any animal food, 3) all forms of intoxication, and 4) gambling and idle sports. Our teachings are based on the authorized movement of Lord Chaitanya, on the principles of Bhagavad Gita, as the beginning, and Srimad Bhagwatam as the graduation.
I do not wish to prolong the body of this letter further, but if you think that my meeting with you will be beneficial for human society at large, I shall be very much pleased if Your Holiness will grant me an interview. Thanking you in anticipation of an early reply, I am
Yours in the service of the Lord,
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami
- From "Prabhupada-lila" by HH Satsvarupa dasa Goswami