September 28 2008


This history of this world, and especially in Kali-yuga is war. There is always some war going on somewhere. If we are fortunate we may escape its withering shadow–or not. Even if we do, are we any better off?

How do devotees view war and how do they deal with it?

 Here’s a fairly frequently asked question from Samatma Gour das in the CIS:

“Did Shrila Prabhupada ever speak of possible global military conflicts and cataclysms etc. What were his recommendations to the devotees, if any, in relation to this? Thank you in advance and special thanks for your Transcendental Diary!”


Among the many smaller wars-civil wars, cold wars, hot wars, holy wars-that are always going on, the last century saw two ‘world wars’.

ww1      ww2

With the development of atomic and nuclear capabilites, its easy to think in apocalyptic terms

 atom omb    end of the world

With the A-bomb it seemed that for the first time in history man had the capability of destroying the whole planet.

Srila Prabhupada did speak about a possible third world war and there are several conversations from 1974 on this, as well as some letters. You can read the conversation from May 27, 1974 in Rome.

The talk of a possible war sparked some speculation among the devotees and some wrote to Srila Prabhupada because they were concerned about the future. Here are some replies Srila Prabhupada made:

Letter to: Makhanlal — 22 June, 1973

“You have asked about whether nuclear devastation on this planet would effect the Sankirtana Movement. No, there is nothing that can stop the Sankirtana Movement because it is the will of God Himself, Lord Caitanya, that His Holy Name be heard in every town and village. Neither can the demons devastate this planet independent of the will of Krsna. Nothing happens without His sanction. If Krsna wants to kill someone no one can save Him, and if Krsna wants to save someone no one can kill him. For our parts we should just be determined to carry out our mission against all opposition, demons, nuclear war, whatever. The whole universe is finally subject to certain annihilation by the will of Krsna, but devotional service is eternal and is the only certain way one can save himself from devastation. We can preach all over the world that the only way to be saved from collective and individual devastation is to take to the chanting of Hare Krsna. In short, this material world is a very precarious place therefore we should always chant Hare Krsna and seek Krsna’s protection.”

Letter to Sukadeva das 24 November 1974:

“I am glad to learn that you are having nice college programs. Regarding there going to be depression and atomic war, who said that? This is all false propaganda. I never said this.

Letter to: Radhavallabha: — 21 August, 1975

“Do not worry, in spite of war, Srimad-Bhagavatam will be distributed. We don’t care for war. Our preaching business will go on.”

In one conversation a devotee asked Srila Prabhupada “If there is war, will devotees also die?” Srila Prabhupada replied that of course they will. And someone also asked what should the devotees do if there is a war. Srila Prabhupada said he should look up at the bomb coming down and say

 bomb drop

 “This is Krsna!”

On another occasion Srila Prabhupada reminded us that Krsna is always favorably disposed to His devotees: MW conversation, June 16, 1975 Hawaii:

Prabhupada: That will take place. Otherwise, how they will be killed?
Ambarisa: They’re calling it a limited nuclear war.
Prabhupada: They are accumulated so much sinful load that must be killed. That is sure. [break] …the massacre. That will take place.
Harikesa: The sinless people will survive?
Prabhupada: Yes.
Devotee (3): Who is that?
Prabhupada: We. [break] There was an artificial famine in India and I particularly inquired from all devotees whether they have got any problem in this famine. They said, “No, we haven’t got.” I have taken the statistics. In 1942 the artificial famine created by government… So there were big earthquake in Bihar. At that time one of my godbrother, he was government auditor. So I inquired. In that earthquake only his house was saved. I have seen it many times. Kaunteya pratijanihi na me bhaktah pranasyati [Bg. 9.31]. That is the only….
samasrita ye pada-pallava-plavam
mahat-padam punya-yaso murareh
bhavambudhir vatsa-padam param padam
padam padam yad vipadam na tesam
 [SB 10.14.58]
Padam padam yad vipadam na tesam. It is not meant for them, all these dangerous condition.”

Whatever happens, Krsna is behind it. Sometimes it seems that some powerful man or men are in control and with their inventions they may kill us all. But this is not the case. I remember an amusing but striking story Srila Prabhupada told us about Churchill, Hitler and World War 2: 

Churchill giving the V sign to Hitler    Hitler

[TD1] December 5 1975 – Vrndavana 

Sometimes, Prabhupada sits in his darsana room after breakfast and chats with his servants for a few minutes, usually commenting on the present state of the world. These moments are especially sweet — to be with Prabhupada as he sits, relaxed and casual, basking in the warmth of his intimate association.

This morning was particularly memorable. The sun was shining brightly through the tall and narrow windows, casting patches of dazzling light on the clean, white sheets on the floor. He sat comfortably in the middle, his legs crossed, right ankle resting on the left knee. His fingers loosely intertwined, he closed his eyes briefly and enjoyed the warmth of the sun as it danced upon his golden form.

Seeing the opportunity, Hansaduta, Harikesa, and I sat on either side of him, just happy to be with him in a quiet moment. He began to reflect on the unfortunate state of the world’s inhabitants. He explained that due to a lack of knowledge about the Supreme Lord people are suffering. Under the false impression of being independent they commit all kinds of sinful acts, not knowing and not caring for the results, foolishly thinking they are free to do as they like. But when the volume of sinful life becomes too great they suffer the consequences in the form of pestilence or war. They think that by politics and meetings they can avoid such things, but that is not possible. They are helpless to prevent them, and therefore they receive their punishment through the three-fold miseries of life. At just the right moment, nature brings the demons together and engages them in war. To illustrate the point, he gave an amusing but striking example of how maya works. “In my young days we had one teacher. Whenever there was any misbehavior between the boys, the teacher would stop them and bring them out to the front of the class. He would make them stand face-to-face and each take hold of the ears of the other and on his order make them pull. So the one, he is pulling, and the other is hurting, so he pulls back even harder, and each one is pulling and crying. But they cannot let go because the teacher is ordering, ‘No, you cannot stop. You must go on pulling!’ Similarly, maya brings together one Churchill and one Hitler. ‘Now, rascal, pull!’ And neither can stop. And the foolish people glorify them.” So even if we think our time is up

 Time end of the world

Time is not under the control of ordinary men. They may mark time, but they can’t control it. Krsna has the last word on everything: BG 10.30:  “Among subduers I am time.” Purport: “There are many subduing principles, but time wears down all things in the material universe and so represents Krsna.”

BG 10.33:  “I am also inexhaustible time.”

Purport: “Among all kinds of killers, time is the ultimate because time kills everything. Time is the representative of Krsna because in due course of time there will be a great fire and everything will be annihilated.”

 BG 11.32:

“The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: Time I am, the great destroyer of the worlds, and I have come here to destroy all people. With the exception of you [the Pandavas], all the soldiers here on both sides will be slain.”

Purport“This form of the Supreme Lord is the all-devouring giant, and here Krsna presents Himself in that form of all-devouring time. Except for a few Pandavas, everyone who was present on that battlefield would be devoured by Him. Arjuna was not in favor of the fight, and he thought it was better not to fight; then there would be no frustration. In reply, the Lord is saying that even if he did not fight, every one of them would be destroyed, for that was His plan. If Arjuna stopped fighting, they would die in another way. Death could not be checked, even if he did not fight. In fact, they were already dead. Time is destruction, and all manifestations are to be vanquished by the desire of the Supreme Lord. That is the law of nature.”

Srila Prabhupada gave a good analogy about the position of the devotees to Prof. Regamay of Lausanne University Geneva in a conversation on May 4 1974:

“The atom bomb is ready. You have got, I have got. I drop on you, and you drop on me. Both of us, we finish. This is going to be happening. People are so degraded. So unless one takes to Krsna consciousness, there is no possibility of being saved. There is example, that grinding mill… You know, grinding mill?
Prof. Regamay: Yes.
Prabhupada: Yes, and the grains are put within it and they are all smashed. But one grain who takes shelter of the center, the pivot, it is not smashed. Similarly the modern civilization is such that everyone will be smashed. And one takes the central point shelter, Krsna consciousness, he will not be. Kaunteya pratijanihi na me bhaktah pranasyati [Bg. 9.31]. So best thing is to take shelter of Krsna and save yourself.

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