Aspects of Vaisnava Theory & Practice
Making a "Case" for the Reconstitution of Srila Prabhupada's "Mission"
Rasing Our Spiritual Standards

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Chapter 13
Our Mission

Part 4

“Ultimately, Envy or Hate Can be Rationalized”

Ultimately, envy or hate can be rationalized, as Fromm explains:

“There is perhaps no phenomenon which contains so much destructive feeling as “moral indignation”, which permits envy or hate to be acted out under the guise of virtue.”

Claiming greater religious fidelity or being a more faithful “Prabhupada man”, when used to disguise envy or hate, is the same as “moral indignation” as described here. It is easily rationalized in the mode of passion, because rationalization is really the art of not listening to one’s conscience. The mode of goodness means letting one’s conscience be the guide. One cannot be a brahmana (an intellectual) without a conscience.

Presently, a handful of devotees have emerged as the intellectual elite in ISKCON. This is not a bad thing, because an intellectual class is desirable and, indeed, one of the priorities of ISKCON. You would think one of the functions topping the list of the handful of accepted intellectuals is to encourage other intellectually inclined members of the society and to help organize the rest of the society along varnasrama principles. Reliable sources assure me that at least one of them does try to inspire devotees to do intellectual work, which is good news. The bad news is that, without exception, he recommends them to go to college, which proves my point, that we have bought into the university game. The reasoning is that to preach to university people, we need to have equitable qualifications. There is some validity to this. For those of us who are so inclined, and who want to preach to that particular audience, degrees can be helpful, but it is not an absolute requirement. Would Srila Prabhupada agree that a college education makes an intellectual?

A degree is not the primary consideration (although everything can be used in Krishna’s service). Being visibly men and women of saintly character, and knowing how to preach Krishna consciousness with logic and reason and support it with sastra, these things are primary. This will advance our cause. Purity is the force. Preaching is really all about touching the heart of the honest persons in the audience, but if we’ve bought into the university game, then we will lack faith in this important consideration. We will rely on technique instead of basic goodness. Among ourselves the emphasis should be peacefulness, self-control, austerity, purity, tolerance, honesty, knowledge, wisdom, and religiousness.

Anyway, in the elite intellectual circle, apart from the one nonconforming member who recommends going to the university, the circle is mostly closed. The enfranchised members are threatened if others are poised to do intellectual work. If you are willing to undergo some unspoken rites of passage, the primary one being that you line up with one of them and allow them to put their stamp of approval on your work, or even let them take the credit for it, then you can be part of the elite circle. However, brahmanas are by nature autonomous — “independently thoughtful men” — hence it is not likely that a true intellectual would play this game of stroking others to establish himself. And he is perfectly right.

Then what is the scope for one being an intellectual on his own, outside of the elite circle, which a witty member of that circle called “the Intellectual Mafia?” Surely one can go one’s own way. Sometimes one is lucky to have an understanding administrator who encourages and facilitates one’s desire. Generally, however, the response is akin to the one you can expect if you proposed to open a temple next door to a slaughterhouse. It comes as no surprise therefore that we have failed to establish a functioning intellectual class. So many devotees old and new believe that we have nothing to do with the mode of goodness. Maybe we do not at present, but we should. We should not doubt the relevance of sattva guna as a milestone on the path to pure Krishna consciousness. This point is repeated in Prabhupada’s books and lectures:

Lecture 1972 Los Angeles:

Darsana means seeing. So, in order to see the Absolute Truth, one has to come to the platform of goodness. Tamasas tu rajas tasmat sattvam yad brahma-darsanam. Yad sattvam, the platform which is called goodness. And in that platform, you can see God, or you can realize what is Absolute Truth.”

Lecture 1972 Los Angeles:

“We must come to the platform of sattva-guna, goodness, the brahminical stage. Then our life, our evolutionary process will be successful. Tamasas tu rajas tasmat sattvam yad brahma-darsanam.”

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