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In Germany during the Second World War, many women went to the church to pray to God to get back their husband, son, or brother. But nobody came back. And they became atheist

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Lectures

Bhagavad-gita As It Is Lectures

During wartime many Germans, they went to war, and their wives, sister, all woman class, they went to church and prayed for the return of their husband, brother or son. But they did not return, and all of them became atheists: "Oh, there is no God. There is no God." Sometimes it happens like that, that "We want God as my order-supplier. If He does not supply the order, then He becomes no God. There is no God." That is the defect of this kind of prayer.
Lecture on BG 7.15-18 -- New York, October 9, 1966:

Now Kṛṣṇa says,

udārāḥ sarva evaite
jñānī tv ātmaiva me matam
āsthitaḥ sa hi yuktātmā
mām evānuttamāṁ gatim
(BG 7.18)

Now, those persons, those who are distressed and those who are poverty-stricken, they go to God. They pray to God. Now Kṛṣṇa is accepting their endeavor. Udārāḥ sarva evaite: "They are, all of them, these four classes of men, either he is..., he is coming to Me in distress or being poverty-stricken or as inquisitive or as real man of knowledge, they are welcome. They are welcome." Udārāḥ: "They are very good." Sarva evaite. "But, out of them," jñānī tu ātmaiva me matam, "still, that person who is in knowledge is very dear to Me, still." He is confirming it.

So one should be in knowledge. Devotional service, it is a science. And why others are welcome? Those who are distressed, has come to God, and those who are in poverty-stricken, has come to God, why they are also welcome? They are welcome in the sense that because they have come to God, in course of time, they will also become as good as the man in knowledge—if they continue. But generally it happens: one who goes to the church for some profit, if the profit is not there, he'll say, "It is nonsense." He gives up all connection with church. I have got information from one of my Godbrothers. He is German. He told me that during wartime many Germans, they went to war, and their wives, sister, all woman class, they went to church and prayed for the return of their husband, brother or son. But they did not return, and all of them became atheists: "Oh, there is no God. There is no God." Sometimes it happens like that, that "We want God as my order-supplier. If He does not supply the order, then He becomes no God. There is no God." That is the defect of this kind of prayer.

Srimad-Bhagavatam Lectures

In Germany especially, all the women, they went to the church and prayed, "Let my father come back" or "Let my husband come back" or "my son." But nobody came back. So they became atheist. Why? They prayed so much to get back their husband or son or father, but nobody came back. "Then there is no God." This is their conclusion. That means, "God is our order supplier. God is our servant."
Lecture on SB 1.16.19 -- Los Angeles, July 9, 1974:

Second..., last war, when everything was in danger, Mr. Churchill started this movement B(?), and they were all going to churches—when the situation was very grave. And in Germany especially, because war was very, going on very seriously, so there was no men, so all the women, they went to the church and pray God, somebody... Woman means husband, son or father... Prayed, "Let my father come back" or "Let my husband come back" or "my son." But nobody came back. So they became atheist. This is the version of my one German Godbrother friend. So he said that all of them became atheists. Why? They prayed so much to get back their husband or son or father: nobody came back. "Then there is no God." This is their conclusion. That means, "God is our order supplier. God is our servant." Just like I ask my servant or my disciple, "You do this," and he must do it. We cannot accept God like that. God is neither going to be your servant.

So those who are going to religious life, making God as their servant, they will be failure. You must approach God as master. You should become servant. The so-called religionist, they accept God as their order-supplier servant: "I must pray to God." Whenever there is some inconvenience, "I must pray," or "I must... " Not "must." "At that time I shall pray, and then I shall finish that prayer, and God must supply. If God does not supply, then there is no God." This is the general attitude. But that should not be done. The real religion is, as Kṛṣṇa says in the Bhagavad-gītā, is sarva-dharmān parityajya mām ekam (BG 18.66). First of all surrender. Then talk of mercy and this or that.

In Germany there are so many atheists born out of the second war. In Japan also.
Lecture on SB 2.9.9 -- Tokyo, April 25, 1972, Informal Class in Room:

Prabhupāda: So at that time they become atheist. In Germany there are so many atheists born out of the second war.

Sudāmā: In Japan also.

Prabhupāda: Japan also.

Sudāmā: Japan also. After the war...In Japan during the war the Japanese government supported a certain religious sect, Shinto religion. And they would spend thousands of dollars for ceremony for soldiers and to have good omen for the war. When they lost the war, the entire government wrote in the Constitution, now it is in the Constitution, that the government of Japan will not support any religious organization. So the people then, after losing the war, they lost faith in anything religious and they became distraught.

Prabhupāda: That is the effect of the last... The general, people in general, they expect dharma for artha. dharma for artha. The Bhāgavata therefore explains that dharmasya... Dharmasya ca... What is that?

Pradyumna: Dharmasya hy āpavargyasya?

Prabhupāda: Dharmasya hy āpavargyasya nārtho 'rthāyopakalpate. Nārthasya dharmaikāntasya kāmo lābhāya hi smṛtaḥ. Yes. Dharmasya hy āpavargyasya nārtho 'rthāyopakalpate. One should not execute religious principles for getting better financial or material facility. That is not the purpose. But they have taken it purpose. "We have supported this religious community—we must become victorious of our whimsical declaration of war." That Kṛṣṇa supported the Battle of Kurukṣetra, it was not whimsical declaration of war. Before declaring war, Pāṇḍavas, even Kṛṣṇa tried to stop it in so many ways. When Duryodhana clearly said that "Not even that portion of land which can hold the tip of a needle can be given to you without war..." They were, Kṛṣṇa personally requested that "They are kṣatriyas. They cannot take up the work of a brāhmaṇa or a śūdra or a vaiśya. So better you give them five villages only. Let the five brothers rule over them." He replied, "What do You say of five villages? Not that portion of land which can hold the tip of a needle I can give them without war." Therefore the war was declared: "All right. Decide by war." That was not a whimsical war manufactured and maneuvered by the politician. That is dharma-yuddha. When you encroach upon my right, there must be. Tena tyaktena bhuñjīthā mā gṛdhaḥ kasya svid dhanam (ISO 1). You cannot encroach upon others' right.

Sri Caitanya-caritamrta Lectures

Our Godbrother, German, he told me personally that during wartime many German women, some, they prayed into the church to get back their husband, son or brothers, because all went to war. Nobody returned. And they become atheist: "Oh, there is no God. We prayed so much to God to get back my husband, to get back my brothers, but they are dead." So if we pray, go to Kṛṣṇa with that purpose, that He should be our order-supplier, then there is no question of Kṛṣṇa-bhakti. We must fully surrender, fully surrender: "Let Him do."
Lecture on CC Madhya-lila 20.118-119 -- New York, November 23, 1966:

Yasyāham anugṛhṇāmi hariṣye tad-dhanaṁ śanaiḥ: (SB 10.88.8) "If I do somebody some special favor, then My first duty is I become him crushed in all material possessions." You see? Why? "Because to make him more surrendered to Me." When he becomes helpless, he has no other way. "Kṛṣṇa, please take me." When he has something, he thinks, "Oh, these things will protect me, my material possessions." Therefore he does not surrender. Now, Kṛṣṇa sees that "This man, this living entity, is very much devotee, but he wants something, this nonsense. So crush him so that when he'll feel helpless, he will come to Me. No more. So I'll give him all protection." So there is a policy of Kṛṣṇa. Sometimes He puts us into test, whether we are sincerely devotee of Kṛṣṇa. Because we are always after sense gratification, so if Kṛṣṇa is not a order-supplier, then one rejects Kṛṣṇa. We want God, or Kṛṣṇa, to be our order-supplier. So we must order Kṛṣṇa, "Give me this. Give me that. If You cannot give me, then what are You, Kṛṣṇa? I don't want You." This sort of bhakti, or devotional service, is not accepted by Kṛṣṇa.

Just like Mr. Sulye(?), our Godbrother, German, he told me personally that during wartime many German women, some, they prayed into the church to get back their husband, son or brothers, because all went to war and nobody returned. And they become atheist: "Oh, there is no God. We prayed so much to God to get back my husband, to get back my brothers, but they are dead." But the brother was not returned and the husband was not returned. So result was... So if we pray, go to Kṛṣṇa with that purpose, that He should be our order-supplier, then there is no question of Kṛṣṇa-bhakti. We must fully surrender, fully surrender: "Let Him do." Āśliṣya vā. That is taught by Śrī Caitanya: Āśliṣya vā pāda-ratāṁ pinaṣṭu mām marma-hatāṁ karotu vā adarśanāt (CC Antya 20.47). Āśliṣya vā pāda-ratā: "Either You embrace me or You trample me down on Your feet, neglect me, and You make me broken-hearted, and not being present before me all the life..." Āśliṣya vā pāda-ratāṁ pinaṣṭu mām marma-hatāṁ karotu vā. Marma-hatām means "If You make me broken-hearted... I love You so much. I want You, but You never care for me. That's all right. Still You are my worshipable, unconditionally. I don't want any return from You. Still You are my worshipable Deity(?)." This is pure devotion. Kṛṣṇa takes all care. Don't think... Because He says personally, ahaṁ tvāṁ sarva-pāpebhyo mokṣayiṣyāmi (BG 18.66). Why should you be so anxious? But one who is in love with Kṛṣṇa, he wants to see Him, he wants to love Him. But even He does not present Himself before the lover, the lover says, "Oh, still, You are my lovable object, worshipable... Whatever You can do... You are... You are free to treat me as, as You like, but You are my worshipable..." This is pure. So as soon as we come to this stage, that is perfection. That is perfection. Don't expect anything, return.

Sri Brahma-samhita Lectures

The politicians created war, and there was war. So people went to church and they prayed, "My brother may come back. My husband may come back. My son may come back." But nobody came back, and they all became atheists: "Oh, there is no God." But the thing is that God does not say that "You create war, create problem and for solution of the problem you come to Me." No, you have created your problems; you have to take the result.
Lecture on Brahma-samhita, Lecture -- New York, July 28, 1971:

In India, in 1942, they created artificial famine by this process. Big men, they collected rice. The rice was selling at six rupees per mound. All of a sudden, within a week, it came to fifty rupees per mound. I have seen it. No rice was available in the market. People were hungry. They were purchasing. But the beauty is one American gentleman was present at that time. He remarked that "People are starving in this way. In our country, there would have been revolution." Yes. But the people of India are so trained that in spite of creating this artificial famine, they did not commit any theft, stealing others' property. They died peacefully. Of course, this is a single instance. But the thing is that problems are not created by God. They are created by us. Just like in the... One, my German Godbrother, he said that during the First World War... Perhaps some of you know. The politicians created war and there was war. So people went to church. People means all women, because men were all in the active field. So they prayed, "My brother may come back. My husband may come back. My son may come back." But nobody came back, and they all became atheists: "Oh, there is no God." But the thing is that God does not say that "You create war, create problem and for solution of the problem you come to Me." No, you have created your problems; you have to take the result.

But still, one who takes to the shelter of Kṛṣṇa, or God, his problem are solved. That's a fact.

Conversations and Morning Walks

1973 Conversations and Morning Walks

Just see how they are.
Morning Walk -- December 8, 1973, Los Angeles:

Yaśomatīnandana: Also, Prabhupāda, Christ never said himself that he's dying for their sins. But this is the later disciples of Christ, they claim that Christ has died for their sins.

Prabhupāda: Ācchā? This is the fact?

Prajāpati: That's fact, yes.

Prabhupāda: Just see how they are. They're saying so many things.

Bali Mardana: Cheaters. In Germany since they lost the war everyone has become atheists. In Germany, because they lost the war, they all became atheists.

Prabhupāda: Yes.

Yaśomatīnandana: It's better sometimes to approach a person with no religion, Prabhupāda, than to approach a Christian.

Prabhupāda: Yes.

Yaśomatīnandana: These Christians are very blasphemous.

Prajāpati: Very blasphemous.

Prabhupāda: Yes.

Karandhara: Party spirit.

Prabhupāda: No no, what is their value? When they are sanctioning abortion, homosex, now they are finished. They have no value.

1974 Conversations and Morning Walks

Just like in Germany. So many women went to pray in the Second World War, "Oh, my husband may come back, my father may come back." But nobody came back. And all of them became atheists. You see? They take Kṛṣṇa, or God, as their servant, not to become servant of Kṛṣṇa.
Morning Walk -- January 10, 1974, Los Angeles:

Prabhupāda: So everyone wants to keep this anchor of this material attachment. They say that "Yes, I am ready to accept Kṛṣṇa consciousness, provided Kṛṣṇa gives us so many material..." Just like in Germany. So many women went to pray in the Second World War, "Oh, my husband may come back, my father may come back." But nobody came back. And all of them became atheists. You see? They take Kṛṣṇa, or God, as their servant, not to become servant of Kṛṣṇa, that "I prayed so much, 'Kṛṣṇa, God, give us our daily bread.' And He did not give. Therefore give it up."

1975 Conversations and Morning Walks

In Germany during the last war, Second World War, many women used to go to the church to pray to God to get back their husband, son, or brother. But nobody came back. And they became atheist: "There is no God. We prayed so much, and my father did not come, my brother did not come, my son did not come." So motivated devotion is sometimes frustrated, and they become atheist.
Room Conversation with three Trappist Monks, Psychologists from the University of Georgia, and Atlanta Lawyer, Michael Green -- March 1, 1975, Atlanta:

Prabhupāda: So even after becoming free from sinful activities, if one has got some motive, then he is also not pure devotee. Pure devotee means without any material motive: "God is great. I am His subordinate. I must love God. I must render service to God." This is pure devotee. And if I go to God, "Please give me my bread," that is not pure devotee, because he has got some purpose. As soon as his purpose is fulfilled, he may turn nondevotee. Just like one of my German Godbrothers said that in Germany during the last war, Second World War, many women used to go to the church to pray to God to get back their husband, son, or brother. But nobody came back. And they became atheist: "There is no God. We prayed so much, and my father did not come, my brother did not come, my son did not come." So motivated devotion is sometimes frustrated, and they become atheist. Therefore the devotee who has no motive is pure devotee. "In any condition, it is my duty to love God and to serve Him, not for my benefit but God's satisfaction." That is pure devotee.

anyābhilāṣitā-śūnyaṁ
jñānakarmādy-anāvṛtam
ānukūlyena kṛṣṇānu-
śilānaṁ bhaktir uttama
(Brs. 1.1.11)

This is the definition of pure devotee. "If God satisfies me in my sense gratification, then I love God. Otherwise I have no connection with Him." That is not devotion; that is business. So business-type devotion is not devotion. It is devotion—it may be accepted as a pious activity, not devotion. Devotion is transcendental to pious and impious activity.

After this war many German men and women became atheist. Everyone went to the church and prayed. Especially women prayed for return of their husband, brother, father. And nobody returned. So they thought, "There is no God. So forget about all these things." People became atheist. So this risky civilization is going on.
Room Conversation with Indian Guests -- March 13, 1975, Tehran:

Prabhupāda: They do not know what is God, neither we don't want to satisfy Him, "He may be satisfied or not satisfied. Let us go on with our business." (Hindu)

Indian man (1): A lot of dangers will be there. We'll be putting ourself into trouble.

Prabhupāda: Yes, we are in trouble. Even last war, when the trouble was too much, they began to go to the church. Even Churchill. And one gentleman—he is my Godbrother in Germany—he told me, after this war many German men and women became atheist. Everyone went to the church and prayed. Especially women prayed for return of their husband, brother, father. And nobody returned. So they thought, "There is no God. So forget about all these things." People became atheist. So this risky civilization is going on. They don't want to know what is God, neither they want to satisfy Him. And our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is just the opposite, that "Here is God. You satisfy Him." That's all. "Never mind what you are, but by your occupational duty you satisfy Him. That is perfection." This is our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement.

The women, they went to the church for praying for their husband, for their brother or father. But nobody came back. And later on, they became atheist: "Oh, there is no God." Because God did not supply their order, therefore there is no God.
Morning Walk -- May 20, 1975, Melbourne:

Devotee (1): They try to make God their order-supplier, and when the supply does not come, they say there is no God.

Prabhupāda: God is not order-supplier. Otherwise everyone is praying. Just like in the last war, everyone went to church and prayed for saving the life... mostly woman, because all men in Germany especially, everywhere, they went to the war front. So all the women, they went to the church for praying for their husband, for their brother or father. But nobody came back. And later on, they became atheist: "Oh, there is no God." Because God did not supply their order, therefore there is no God. "If God agrees to my proposal and He supplies things as I want, then there is God. Otherwise there is no God." That means God is under my condition. This is going on.

1976 Conversations and Morning Walks

In the last world war, many German people became atheists. They went to the church and prayed, especially women, "My husband may come back," "My brother may come back," or "My father may come back." But nobody came back, and they became atheists. That means they took God as order-supplier.
Garden Conversation -- June 9, 1976, Los Angeles:

Prabhupāda: So instead of becoming devotee, he wants to become God. And that is the problem. But it is the most confidential part of knowledge. Instead of carrying out the orders of God, he wants to order God. You see? Even in the lower stages of devotion, that mentality continues, that "God is order-supplier. If God carries my order, then I accept God. Otherwise I reject Him." In Germany... One of my German Godbrothers, he told me in 1935 that in the last world war, many people became atheists. They went to the church and prayed, especially women, "My husband may come back," "My brother may come back," or "My father may come back." Because all men went to the war field, and the women were there, they prayed in the churches. But nobody came back, and they became atheists. That means they took God as order-supplier. They ordered God, "Return my father. Return my brother. Return my husband," and God did not return. "Ah, there is no God. I don't care." This is going on. God is order-supplier. But our philosophy is God is not order-supplier; we are order-carriers of God. Anukūlyena kṛṣṇānuśilanaṁ bhaktir uttamā (CC Madhya 19.167). Just like Arjuna became. He became carrier of order of Kṛṣṇa. He did not like to fight, to kill the family members, but when he understood that Kṛṣṇa wants it, then he..., "Yes." Kariṣye vacanaṁ tava (BG 18.73).

1977 Conversations and Morning Walks

"Oh, it is useless to go to church. I prayed so much for my husband coming back, but he did not come. Useless." So this is the position. "I ordered God that 'My husband has gone to the war. Let him come back unharmed.' And God did not bring him back. He did not carry my order. I don't want this God." This is going on. When the war was declared, there was no consultation with God.
Room Conversation -- January 8, 1977, Bombay:

Prabhupāda: So this starvation point, we take it as blessing. People generally question that "How God is unfavorable to somebody and favorable to...?" That is foolishness. God is good, but that we do not know. Because we are less intelligent, we think that "One man is in starvation; therefore God is not good." That is our fault. We are not good. We do not understand God. But a Vaiṣṇava says, "Oh, it is blessing." And if he takes like that, then the result is mukti-pade sa dayā-bhāk. His mukti is guaranteed. In any circumstances, if somebody takes God as good, then his mukti is guaranteed. And if he blames God—"Oh, He has put me into starvation"—then he has to suffer. This is the common argument sometimes we meet, "Oh, why God has made somebody so rich and somebody some poor? He is unjust." That is foolishness. God cannot be... He's just, always just. That is God. So unless we have got that firm conviction, then we cannot become devotee.

Guest (1): That is why Indians are not joining then. Because they are not joining because of that; they cannot understand what is the reality. Because we try to comment upon the God's actions, "Somebody's poor, somebody's rich, somebody's this."

Prabhupāda: But actually you don't believe in God. That is the disease, godlessness. If we believe in God...

Guest (2): If we fully believe... But there are a large portion of...

Prabhupāda: Yes. Yes. They don't believe in Him. They think that "God is my servant, or order-supplier"—"God, why you have not done this. If you don't do this, I don't want You." This is our position.

Guest (2): (Hindi)

Prabhupāda: Yes. That means "God is my servant order-supplier." Actually... This is European mentality. One, my Godbrother, German Godbrother, that Sadananda, he told me, in the last war, when the war was going on, generally women were left. All men were in the battlefield, somebody's husband, somebody's father, somebody's son. So they went to the church. They were going church. Even Churchill also recommended "Go to the church. Pray." Duḥkha se saba hari bhaje sukha se bhaje kaya. So, but nobody returned. So all of them became atheist: "Oh, it is useless to go to church. I prayed so much for my husband coming back, but he did not come. Useless." So this is the position. "I ordered God that 'My husband has gone to the war. Let him come back unharmed.' And God did not bring him back. He did not carry my order. I don't want this God." This is going on. When the war was declared, there was no consultation with God. (laughter) Rascal. That time there was no consultation. And when the husband is going to die, he goes to God. This is our position.