Iskcon Communication Ministry’s guidelines for speaking during COVID – 19 pandemic

COVID – 19 pandemic has killed thousands of people all over the world. It has brought a global crisis. Iskcon devotees too are suffering and unfortunately some have even lost their lives because of the pandemic.

Devotees do not want people to suffer. So, in Iskcon, devotees are trying their best to serve people of the entire world.

  • At several Iskcon temples and Iskcon centres devotees are working hard to prepare food packets and are distributing it to the needy people.

As of now Iskcon in India is preparing meal for more than 5 lakh people daily.

  • Iskcon devotees all over the world who are doctors, nurses and healthcare experts are working day and night to treat the patients. They are risking their lives and are serving wholeheartedly.
  • Devotees are chanting extra rounds of Hare Krishna Mahamantra so that it creates auspiciousness in the whole world and end the pandemic.
  • Iskcon Chowpatty has organized 1 crore japa yajna campaign where devotees from all over the world come in a conference call and chant and pray together for the people of the whole world.
  • Some devotees have also taken the onus of helping elderly people who are extremely vulnerable during this time.
  • Some devotees as per their capacity are trying their best to help people from humble background who are suffering because of no job.

But along with these commendable services, it is also important that devotees during their conversation with others or during classes (which are mostly happening online these days) speak in such a way that it should be soothing to the hearts.

Anuttama Dasa, GBC Member,  Minister of Communications, have advised that devotees should not speak anything which may appear insensitive and which tries to belittle the suffering of the people.

Sometimes neophyte devotees because of immaturity or lack of complete understanding of Krishna conscious philosophy may utter certain words which may appear insensitive. Mature devotees should guide them and make them understand that a devotee is always compassionate to others suffering.

Scriptures are filled with the stories of devotees who exhibited extraordinary compassion towards all.

Vāsudeva Datta had so much compassion for all the living beings of the world that with tears in his eyes he prayed to Lord Chaitanya, “Let me suffer for the sinful activities of all the people of the whole world. Let all their sins, all their karma fall upon me. Let me go to hell and suffer on their behalf. But please free them from all the sufferings. Please shower your mercy upon them. Please show your compassion to them.”

Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was so moved hearing the prayers of Vāsudeva Datta that his eyes were filled with tears of love and he embraced him.

Mahārāja Rantideva whose glories are sung in Srimad Bhagavatam says, “I want only to stay among all the living entities and suffer all distresses on their behalf, so that they may be freed from suffering.” SB 9.21.12

Srila Prabhupada took all the pains to preach Krishna consciousness because he wanted to save entire humanity from degrading to hellish life.

The communication ministry quotes a lecture of Srila Prabhupada where he is speaking how a devotee should have feeling for others’ distress.

Vaishnava is always feeling for others’ distress. That is Vaishnava. Vaishnava—para dukha dukhi. They’re very much afflicted with others’, I mean to say, miserable life. Just like Lord Jesus Christ, he presented himself as very much afflicted with others’ miserable condition of life. So all the Vaishnavas, devotees—It doesn’t matter which country he belongs to or which sect he belongs to. Anyone who is God-conscious or Krishna conscious. . . para dukha dukhi.  Lecture July 21, 1971 New York

Whole world is in great distress.

Source: https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/?

Thousands of people have already died. Thousands of people are dying daily. Lakhs of people are in hospitals or are quarantined. Millions of people are suffering financially. The situation is so bad that family members of those who are dying because of Coronavirus are not even able to see their dead bodies. For fear of spreading the infection, the government authorities cremate the dead bodies and just inform the family members.

During this global crisis devotees should exhibit complete maturity and show compassion to all through their words and actions.

Iskcon Communication Ministry has issued following guidelines to the leaders while speaking about the pandemic, but it is applicable to all the devotees:  

  • Express first your heartfelt concern and prayers for those who are suffering.
  • Advise all to strictly follow government guidelines/restrictions that promote public safety. 
  • Avoid statements that may be interpreted as callous, or lacking empathy for others’ suffering.  
  • While our tradition teaches that karma impacts our happiness and suffering, teach and highlight for devotees that a more essential principle for followers of Lord Chaitanya and Srila Prabhupada is karuna, compassion and mercy for others. This should guide all we do and say. 
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