Article by Upendranath Dasa
A Class of Critical Thinkers
There is no way for all to be leaders. The leaders will be a small percentage of the population. No more than 2%. Moreover, the majority; the masses, are the followers
Yes, you can say that this kind of messianic approach is also creating one huge large ‘herd’ of human beings. However, this herd will be a herd that is not being cheated, and they will understand more or less, that being part of this ‘herd’ is the ultimate ‘herd’ to be part of. Lord Jesus used to call his followers, his flock, or his sheep. There are only two types of ‘herds’;
- The ‘ignorant herd’ being cheated.
- And the ‘knowledgeable herd’ not being cheated.
There is no way for all to be leaders. The leaders will be a small percentage of the population. No more than 2%. Moreover, the majority; the masses, are the followers.
Getting back to the prior point that it is the belief of some; that by becoming “big” preachers; they will somehow oblige Krishna to save them. The first part of this needs to be examined a bit.
Can anyone “oblige” God; Krishna, Lord Chaitanya, or one’s spiritual master like Srila Prabhupada to save us because we preached, because we recruited many people and increased the headcount?
Can one then oblige the Lord to give us bhakti? Is that how it works? I do not think so.
Nevertheless, it seems this is what many believe; especially the leaders and gurus in ISKCON. I think we should preach so we either pass along something we have already, or at least pass along the right understanding of that thing, the right conception. However, preaching just to increase numbers, is the thing that has captivated almost all. Do you need more proof than what happened to those unqualified, and unscrupulous 11 who hi-jacked ISKCON in 1977; did their preaching purify them?.
More precisely, one should preach because preaching is purifying to the preacher, primarily; and secondarily the hearer may opt to take up bhakti and make it a personal priority. Somehow, in ISKCON and other institutions, they manage to preach without becoming purified in the process of doing it, though they win many converts.
In addition, this is the standard of what is considered and called successful preaching. I find this mentality at best erroneous and at its worst, pathetic.
Through personal association with preachers, I became aware of his despicable behavior. It was so obvious to me that it was just as if they were wearing a sign on their heads, with bright neon light letters spelling out,
“I really am despicable for I have an agenda for name, fame, and glory. I have caused so much havoc in this movement; but I am not aware of any of this, and those things that I am aware of, I do not care.”.
Moreover, to my utter amazement, many of my associates advise me not to think like that when we discussed these individuals. When I inquired why? They said, “He is a great preacher.”
I can accept that they were able to hide their own agenda for name, fame, and glory from themselves, and rationalize his passion for power, using book distribution as their particular vehicle, as big devotional service to the mission of Lord Chaitanya, but why did it delude so many others too? That part I just do not get. It was always so transparent to me and others as well.
I do not see why it was so hard to discern that here were men who were shameless about their personal ambition. I use ‘were because they no longer live, or they have been punished to become “sudras again”, and are no longer disciples of Prabhupada, simply because they do not follow his instructions and orders; today there are thousands of them.
But many, in the name of being gentle Vaishnavas, who only see the good, and who fear to make Vaishnava aparadha, offense to a devotee, used “philosophy” to open and close the eyes; rather than for seeing clearly. In addition, I totally fail to see an ounce, or even a micro-gram, of virtue in that. Rather I see “STUPITITY” summoned quite large.
Mind you, these people are only one example of this, and a highly visible example. They represents an extreme. However, there are numerous intermediate or lesser versions of this extreme. If one wants to shed illusions, and become a clear-thinking person, one has to see through these things. One has to become a critical thinker who has a firm foundation in Vaishnava philosophy.
Unfortunately, in ISKCON they have impregnated the word “critical” with only negative meaning, and for all practical purposes, many of them have become wishful thinkers, instead of people who keenly discern between substance and shadow.
Moreover, since this species of cluelessness devotees is upheld by the group mind as Vaishnava virtue, many of them fail to see it for what it is–sheer stupidity–because they fail to use philosophy itself, as the basis for discernment between shadow and substance. Rather, for most of them, the basis for perceiving substance, is the opinion of the majority.
They can always find some shred of philosophy, some quote from Prabhupada, or some kind of pseudo-reasoning to bolster these opinions. A good example is the Ritvik heresy. The Ritvik’s have a problem with the GBC version of rubberstamping gurus, so they react to that by trying to rubber-UN-STAMP gurus, and they ransack through the books and the letters and conversations to find words of Prabhupada that support their reactive idea. In actuality, the philosophy itself does not give support to ritvik, nor to the GBC idea of guru by their system; but in the mode of passion, you see, philosophy is a tool to serve their agenda, rather than they serving the philosophy on its own merit.