I don't say that your religion is cheating or my religion is bona fide. I don't say that. We have no right to say that

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"I don't say that your religion is cheating or my religion is bona fide. I don't say that. We have no right to say that"


Srimad-Bhagavatam Lectures

I don't say that your religion is cheating or my religion is bona fide. I don't say that. We have no right to say that.
Lecture on SB 1.1.2 -- London, August 17, 1971:

So this is the process. That we are serving here Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa is also very kind. Because if Kṛṣṇa in His spiritual form, He is present... Of course, there is no difference. For Kṛṣṇa, there is no difference, material and spiritual, because everything is spiritual ultimately. But still, taking it accepted that we cannot see spiritual form at the present moment. Ataḥ śrī-kṛṣṇa-nāmādi na bhaved grāhyam indriyaiḥ (CC Madhya 17.136). Because our senses are not blunt, we cannot see the spiritual form of Kṛṣṇa at the present moment. Therefore because we cannot see Kṛṣṇa with your present eyes, because we cannot serve Kṛṣṇa with our present hand, therefore Kṛṣṇa appears in a way so that we can see, we can touch. That is Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa can appear in any way. He is all-powerful. So when He appears just like a stone statue, that does not mean Kṛṣṇa is stone or statue. Kṛṣṇa is the same Kṛṣṇa, but He appears before me just like stone statue because I cannot touch anything beyond this stone. I cannot see beyond this stone. So it is His mercy. Therefore it is called arcā-avatāra, incarnation of worshipable Deity. So we should never think that "Kṛṣṇa is not seeing. If I commit some offense, or..., Kṛṣṇa is in Vaikuṇṭha. Here I can do whatever I like." (laughter) Don't do that. That is a great offense. Therefore there are... We should always think, "Oh, Kṛṣṇa is here." We should be respectful just exactly as Kṛṣṇa is here. Don't make differentiation, that "This Kṛṣṇa is stone statue." Similarly...

Therefore the śāstra injunction is arcye śilā-dhīr guruṣu nara-matiḥ. To think of the Deity as made of stone, to think of the spiritual master as ordinary man, arcye śilā-dhīr guruṣu nara-matir vaiṣṇave jāti-buddhiḥ, to accept a Vaiṣṇava as belonging to some caste and creed... Just like in India there are many so-called brāhmaṇas. They think that "These Europeans, they are coming from low-grade family. How we can accept them as brāhmaṇas?" No. Vaiṣṇave jāti-buddhiḥ. When one has taken the Vaiṣṇava initiation and properly discharging duties, he should be not be considered belonging to such caste. A spiritual master should not be counted amongst ordinary human beings. Similarly, this Deity, although we know that we have made it from stone, He's not stone. He is stone to the stone-hearted. If one is stone-hearted, then Kṛṣṇa will stand as stone forever. But if one is soften-hearted by chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra, then he'll talk with Kṛṣṇa. That is the difference. Kṛṣṇa is always present.

Therefore it is said here... Any religion which does not teach about God, which does not know what is God, that is cheating religion. That's all. Dharmaḥ projjhita-kaitavo 'tra (SB 1.1.2). Cheating, religion. And the Vṛndāvana dāsa Ṭhākura has said, pṛthivīte yāhā kichu dharma-nāme cale, bhagavat prahe tāhāṅ paripūrṇa chale. "In the all over the world, what is going on..." It is a strong criticism. In the name of religion, the Bhāgavata says, "They're all cheating." That's all. Because they have no idea what is God. Neither in their principles there is service of God, there is dedication to God. Simply official in the so-called religion. Therefore Vṛndāvana dāsa Ṭhākura said, "These are all cheating religions." Religion means when one accepts some religion, he must know, "What is God, what I am, what is my relationship with God, what are the laws of God, how I am to act." So many things you have to learn. That is religion. Simply stamping myself with some rubber stamp that "I belong to this religion, I belong to that religion," that will not help. That is cheating. You are cheating yourself.

Another point is that it doesn't matter. I don't say that your religion is cheating or my religion is bona fide. I don't say that. We have no right to say that. I want to see... "I" means, we are Bhāgavata. We are representative of bhāgavata-dharma. Or Bhāgavata wants to see. Any religion you may profess—it doesn't matter—I want to see whether you have got the result of religion. The result of religion is you will love God. That is result of religion. If you have become actually lover of God, then your religion—it doesn't matter whatever religion you profess—that is perfect. But if instead of developing your love for God, you have developed love for so many nonsense things, then you have simply wasted your time. That is the verdict of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.

dharmaḥ svanuṣṭhitaḥ puṁsāṁ
viṣvaksena-kathāsu yaḥ
notpādayed yadi ratiṁ
śrama eva hi kevalam
(SB 1.2.8)

Dharmaḥ svanuṣṭhitaḥ. Not that anyone who is not following strictly the religious principles. Even if he is following strictly the religious principle... Svanuṣṭhitaḥ puṁsām, dharmaḥ svanuṣṭhitaḥ puṁsām. But the result should be that he should be a lover of God. Viṣvaksena-kathāsu yaḥ. Unless one becomes lover of God, he is not interested to hear about God. Here you are sitting, a few boys and girls. There are millions of people. Because you have little love for Kṛṣṇa, therefore you are sitting. Therefore you are sitting. So without development of love for God, nobody is interested to hear about God.

So by following any system of religion, if we do not develop our dormant love for God, then following such religious principle means simply waste of time. That's all. Because it has no effect. Effect should be by following religious principle you must develop love of Godhead. That is our bhāgavata-dharma.