śrī śrī guru gaurāṅga jayataḥ!

Rays of The Harmonist On-Line Edition

Year 9, Issue 5
Posted: 25 June 2016

Dedicated to
nitya-līlā praviṣṭa oṁ viṣṇupāda

Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja

Inspired by and under the guidance of
nitya-līlā praviṣṭa oṁ viṣṇupāda

Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja

The Present Position of the Principal Religious Sects – Part One

by Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda


It is possible to ascertain the comparative value of different religious practices and doctrines that are now current in the world. For such a purpose, it will be necessary to accept interpretations of them that are offered by their actual followers. It is not the business of the scientific student to create the material he is to consider. His only proper function is to describe faithfully the data available to him and classify the same according to an accepted standard. The accepted standard in this case has ever been the Absolute Truth. It is only necessary for us to seek to know the Absolute, and with the help of His light, to settle our conduct towards every entity.

The Harmonist has been consistently following the policy outlined above. She has been trying to put before her readers her realization of the nature of the Absolute by the grace of sad-guru. This is the positive method. But the positive method itself is not the most effective mode of propaganda in a controversial Age like the present. The negative method, which seeks to differentiate the Truth from non-Truth in all its forms, is even better calculated to convey the directly inconceivable significance of the Absolute. It is a necessity that cannot be conscientiously avoided by the dedicated preacher of the Truth if he wants to be a loyal servant of Godhead.

This method is sure to create an atmosphere of controversy in which it is quite easy to lose one’s balance of judgement. But the ways of the deluding energy are so intricate that unless their mischievous nature is fully exposed it is not possible for the soul in the conditioned state to avoid the snares spread by the enchantress for encompassing the ruin of her only too willing victims. It is a duty that shall be sacred to all who have been enabled to obtain even a distant glimpse of the Absolute.

Before we proceed to the actual valuation of current creeds, we would like to tell our readers that we have no earthly interest of our own in undertaking this God given task. We are neither friends nor foes of any mundane cause. Our only business will be to distinguish the mundane from the spiritual. That which appears to us to be mundane may be held to be spiritual by diverse persons whose definition of a spiritual entity is different from ours. But such difference of opinion need not disturb any person who is truly anxious to find out the Truth.

The creeds may be divided into two distinct groups according to their declaration or denial of the transcendental nature of the object of worship. Transcendence is something quite different from the negation or abstraction of the mundane. The most abstract thought, for example, is not a transcendental entity but a subtle form of a mundane entity. There are more than a few creeds that do not keep this important distinction in their constant view.

Accordingly, they are disposed to showing their preference for the worship of the subtle form of matter in the shape of an idea, over that of grosser forms of matter in the shape of images of gods made of wood, stone, clay or metal. But to one who is truly conscious of the difference between the spiritual and the mundane, it is readily visible that both of these are equally outside the process of spiritual worship. From the transcendental point of view, neither of these are a viable choice.

The worshippers of their own favourite ideas are sometimes found to regard the worshippers of images made by the hand of man as idolaters. But the transcendentalist knows that both of them are worshippers of the phenomena of physical nature, which they wrongly suppose to be identical with the transcendental object of worship revealed by scripture.

to be continued...

Adapted from The Gaudiya Volume 47
by the Rays of The Harmonist team

Rays of The Harmonist On-line, Year 9, Issue 5, "The Present Position of the Principal Religious Sects - Part One", is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License to ensure that it is always freely available. You may redistribute this article if you include this license and attribute it to Rays of The Harmonist. Please ask for permission before using the Rays of The Harmonist banner-logo.