I’d like to thank Bhakta Eric – whose writings I enjoy – for his submission of Srila Prabhupada’s conversation with Harikesh. But before everybody sends me their favourite “We are not Hindus…” quote, and we begin what might easily become a downward spiral, may I just say a few things?
First is that there are no Hindus in Vaikuntha. Neither will you find any Christians there, and neither Jews nor Muslims. And certainly no Buddhists. Only those souls who have become free from all designations can go there.
Second, designations means any identity, name, or title given either by others or myself to describe my function or position in relation to others. That means my bodily, mental, social, political and socio-religious function and position in relation to others. OK so far?
Third, is that all these are temporary. That means they are continually subject to change. They may change abruptly or gradually during my life according to my changing perspective of reality, my changing convictions, circumstances, needs, and the social and political environment I’m working in. When I die, which in my case is in just a few years time if I’m lucky, every designation will no longer apply. I shall certainly stop being a white-skinned British male and everything that was previously designated by myself or others will become reduced to ash.
Fourth, because these designations are obstacles to my spiritual progress I have been requested to meditate on my spiritual identity as a infinitesimally small soul which is, by its very constitution, an eternal servant of the infinitely large Supreme personality of Godhead. Practising that identity, I pray to God that at the very least it will survive the death experience.
Fifth, although my designations are not, in fact, my very self; although they are temporary; although they tend to make me focus on an identity that is temporary and therefore, although real, part of an illusion, those designations refer to the instruments that I currently use in this somewhat painful reincarnation, to survive and serve.
Sixth, I have many such designations, some of which are subsets of other designations. Here are just a few: son, brother, father, husband, grihasta, tax-payer, licensed driver, white, male, Welsh, English, British, employee, resident, priest, Judo license-holder, teacher, UK passport-holder, brahmana, loyal subject of Queen Elizabeth II, and…Hindu.
Seventh, those designations are used by me, rather than me being a helpless victim of those designations. I certainly find that the UK passport-holder designation helps me, in this current body, to come and go through the borders of the country in which this body resides. I have not yet tried declaring myself to be an eternal resident of Vaikuntha at Immigration Control.
Eighth, those designations – or the materially perceivable phenomena they designate – help me to serve Srila Prabhupada this time round. My service at the moment is to help to bring about a cultural, social, philosophical and spiritual revolution within contemporary English society. Part of that revolution is to provide educational opportunities. And part of that is to support and endorse schools.
Finally, this blog is read by many more than those who subscribe to, and practise, ISKCON’s teachings. Thank you for listening!