Dallas Morning News,
Each week we will post a question to a panel of about two dozen clergy, laity and theologians, all of whom are based in Texas or are from Texas. They will chime in with their responses to the question of the week. And you, readers, will be able to respond to their answers through the comment box.Throughout this year, celebrations are being held around the world to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible. Websites touting the anniversary of its publication, such as this one, talk about the King James Bible as "the book that changed the world."
The argument is that it did so by making the Bible more accessible to people by putting it in English, a language that common people understood in the 1600s. As a result, the Bible became more accessible to everyday people. And it spread English around the world.
What do you think:
Is the King James Bible really the book that changed the world? If so, explain why. If not, explain why not. And, if possible, suggest what book did.
Let me ask you all a question. Would you accept a surgery by a plumber who had read lots of books on surgery? No? Why not? Say he practiced surgery on his friends and rodents? Would you now? No?
NITYANANDA CHANDRA DAS, minister of ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness), Dallas
How about a high court judge, an attorney, or a mathematician who all read books on surgery? No. A surgeon is qualified by studying under someone who is already expert in surgery, a real surgeon. Similarly one cannot become a lawyer simply by reading books, therefore there is law school. So then why do so many apply this standard for all sophisticated fields except spirituality, which is the most subtle subject.
Lord Krishna therefore in the Bhagavad Gita 4.2 teaches that spiritual knowledge must be passed down from teacher to disciple in an unbroken disciplic succession. This is to be done by teachers who are factual examples then the information given. Otherwise such teaching becomes just lost theory, precept with no example.
Here is a wonderful example of this fact. Over 40 years ago A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami translated the Bhagavad Gita As It Is. Now why would there be a need for another translation of the Bhagavad Gita when there were already over 700 other translations and commentaries available, many in English?
Although there have been so many translations we find that historically no one who has read those translations has ever become a devotee of Lord Krishna, the desired goal of the Bhagavad Gita. This is because the translators did not take into account Krishna's instruction that spiritual teaching must be presented in disciplic succession. On the other hand the Bhagavad Gita As It Is has been very effective in promoting change. Not just a change in ideals but a change in habits and behavior. As soon as someone takes up reading Bhagavad Gita As It Is seriously they then take up the spiritual principles of honesty by giving up gambling, cleanliness of mind by giving up intoxication (both legal and illegal), self control by giving up loose sexual relationship, and compassion by giving up eating meat. Combined with becoming firmly established that there is no goal higher than serving God with love.
Because a teaching can only be understood properly when a real live teacher is present and because the world is ready for non-sectarian religion that teaches that God accepts pure love from everyone regardless of culture or religious background I therefore consider that the Bhagavad Gita As It Is as the book that is now changing the world.