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KC Nectar - Feb 18

Nectar from the magazine Krishna Kathamrutha
Submitted by Krpa 

Stages and Varieties of Faith
by Srila Thakur Bhaktivinode

People in various countries on various continents have a wide variety of natures. Although their principal nature is only one, their secondary characteristics are many-you will not find any two people in the world who have identical secondary qualities. Since even twins born of the same womb have some difference in form and quality, can one expect that people born in different countries can ever have exactly the same qualities? Different countries have different water, air, mountains, forests, and different eatables and clothing. Because of this, the people of these places have naturally developed different physiques, complexions, customs, clothing and food. Similarly, people's mentalities differ. Thus various people's ideas of God, though being basically similar, will differ in secondary details. When men in different places surpass the uncivilized stage, they then step by step come to the civilized stage, then the inquisitive stage, the moral stage and finally the devotional stage. In the civilized stage differences will arise in language, in the inquisitive stage differences in dress, in the moral stage differences in food, and in the devotional stage differences in mentality. This gives rise to differences in the mode of worship of God. Considered objectively, there is no harm in secondary differences. If there is agreement concerning the essential nature of God and his worship, there should be no obstacle in attaining the same result.

Thus Mahaprabhu has taught that we should instruct everyone to worship the pure form of the Lord, but at the same time we should not criticize others' modes of worship.


Five Types of Differences Between Religions:

Because of the above reasons, we see the following differences amongst the religions of different countries: 
1) Difference in teachers - acaryabheda 
2) Difference in the worshiper's mentality and consequent expression of reverence - upasakera manovrtti o bhajana-anubhava-bheda. 
3) Difference in the method of worship - upasanar pranalibheda 
4) Difference in the conceptions and conventional actions concerning the object of worship - upasya-tattvera sambandhe bhava o kriyabheda 
5) Differences in God's names and teachings due to linguistic differences - bhasa-bhedanusare nama o vakyadi-bheda. 

1) Acarya-bheda (Differences in Spiritual Teachers)

Thus people in some places give respect to the rsis, in other places they respect preachers like Muhammad, etc. In other countries they respect Jesus and other religious souls, and in many other places of the world people give respect to other various wise men. It is imperative that the people of each country give proper respect to their native saints. Although one may believe that the teachings given by a saintly person of one's own country are superior to the teachings of the saints of all other countries, still one should not try to establish and preach such controversy in other countries. No good will come to the world from such preaching.

(This article is concluded in the magazine)