Authoritarian Dynamics in Religion, How Corruption Begins to Take Hold and Spread
By Upendranath Das a2022 03 29
“ISKCON Book Banning! Are we Going to do the Needful?”
Despite the fact that our Founder-Acarya said different things with respect to the jiva-bondage issue, we have a law restricting us from saying some things that the Founder-Acarya said on this very issue. For example, the law effectively prohibits us from repeating this statement publicly, even though it is in Srila Prabhupada’s purports:
Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.16.26 Purport:
“… The conclusion is that no one falls from the spiritual world or Vaikuntha, for it is the eternal abode. …”
How can this be? Does this indicate the departure from the founder’s original mission, which was described previously as the tragedy of all great religions?
Laws restricting movement, restricting what we can repeat from our Founder-Acarya’s words, restricting our reading material, and banning books are indicative of a trend. These laws were all enacted in 1995. Historically, will 1995 be the year that ISKCON took a corner and headed to “a new Promised Land”. It seems a distinct possibility.
These laws bear an unpleasant association with the totalitarian systems that once existed in Eastern Europe and the former USSR. In those eras, book banning and confiscation of passports and other forms of oppression were commonplace. The imagery of that dynamic and the possibility that ISKCON is tracking a similar course, gives a gloomy prognosis. Look at what became of those authoritarian systems.
Clearly authoritarianism is not the way to go. The outcome can only spell disaster for ISKCON. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s mission will go on, no doubt; but it would be a shame if the mission had to rejuvenate, into yet another institution, and the same pattern of trial and error had to be repeated. Better we stop, delay gratification, and take the time to solve the problem.