1. Before coming to Krishna-consciousness one year ago, I had very skeptical views towards religion and God and unfortunately these sentiments continue to linger in my heart despite chanting 16 rounds steadily and observing the four regulative principles. Please offer me advice as how to cultivate and maintain faith in God since I do not want this trend to go on.

    Answer by HH Bhakti Vikāsa Swami:

    Well, faith comes from association with devotees. So, by reading Śrīla Prabhupāda’s books, we associate with Śrīla Prabhupāda and all the previous ācāryas. And we also need to associate with devotees who themselves are firmly fixed in Kṛṣṇa consciousness and who have firm faith in the message of śāstra. Then our faith will be bolstered. 

    It’s not surprising if… This, someone from the Western world – form America it seems, who’s asking this. It’s not surprising if in the Western world one is sceptical toward religion and the concept of God, because religion as it is practiced and understood in the Western world has got a lot to be sceptical about. And the whole concept of God, as promoted, well, not only in the West, in Hindu religion also, I mean there is no real idea of God in Hindu religion. It’s just whatever you feel like, whatever you think is God, that’s God. So it’s not surprising if someone becomes sceptical. And even after taking to Kṛṣṇa consciousness, these sceptical tendencies may continue. But if we study Śrīla Prabhupāda’s books, then we’ll find that this is bhagavat-tattva-vijñānam – this is scientific delineation of knowledge of the Supreme. It’s not some sentimental religion. It may be difficult for people to have faith in Deity worship, Tulasī worship, in guru worship, but everything has to be understood philosophically. Kṛṣṇa consciousness does not demand blind faith, but it presents unquestionably superior knowledge of God and of religion. Religion means the process to link with God – yoga. Bhakti-yoga means linking with Kṛṣṇa by devotion. 

    So, by association with devotees who are fixed in understanding of Kṛṣṇa and whatever doubts one has… There may be a general syndrome of doubts, but they are specific doubts also. So, one can present them. You may say: It seems very strange to me to worship a plant. So, what’s the answer to that? Any answers? Any suggestions? 

    Well, my fist response would be that: It seems very strange to you, but who are you? What is your qualification to speak on the nature of reality? What do you know? It doesn’t seem strange to you to live in the modern world which is totally bizarre or to live in the material world at all, where there is repeated birth and death. And people think: That’s not strange – that we spend all our lives struggling for happiness and at the end… Well, even during life we don’t feel happy and at the end we just get kicked out of our body anyway; usually after suffering debilitating diseases and overall debilitation in old age. So, that doesn’t seem strange because everyone in the material world has made a pact, an unspoken pact, that we consider this world to be normal. This world is not normal. It’s weird. It’s completely strange. So understand the science of the Supreme and then everything else will be understood. And don’t think: It seems to me strange. Don’t take that to be the measure – that what I think is correct. But understand with your intelligence what is the nature of reality. With our intelligence means we have to take knowledge from śāstra. And if anyone has doubts in the nature of God and thinks it’s just some sentiment… Some men, they got descended from, what do they call them, primal anthropoids? What’s the word? You don’t know. Uh? Not asteroids. Maybe they landed on asteroids. But they descended from some primeval anthropoids. Then they stood up, and then they discovered fire and they discovered wheels. And they gradually became more advanced, but they were still very primitive, so they believed in God. And those genes are still with us, according to Richard Dawkins. And this is why we believe in God. But, read the first verse of Bhāgavatam. That’s not made by the people in The Stone Age, so-called Stone Age, who have no knowledge. This is high philosophy: janmādy asya yato ’nvayād itarataś… You can read it yourself. This knowledge is far more profound than anything you’ll get in your university. OK. That can be… Go on hearing also. Listen to Prabhupāda’s lectures.