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 6
Srila Prabhupada’s Warning and The Lessons of History

Part 5

“Consolidation of Power”

Besides the warnings and advice of Srila Prabhupada, another consideration to keep in mind as one reads on, is historical precedent. History and sociology have proven that most organizations, —social, political, as well as religious—are usually formed with high ideals in mind. Sooner or later, however, as the organization becomes established, the original intent of the founder is forgotten.

“Forgotten” does not mean an official change of aims or objectives. It means that the internal dynamics of the institution may change to the extent that it is no longer fixed on the original goal, but on the institution perpetuating itself. Rather than the founder’s mission, the real mission becomes, keeping power and the bureaucratic structure intact.

An administration is like a living organism. Like every living thing, its characteristic is a blind unreasoned instinct to survive. Indeed, some consider the drive for power even more irrational than the sex urge, and stronger. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura would agree. He describes in Bhajana Rahasya how the desire for fame outlives all other kinds of material desire. Fame is closely tied with power. This survival instinct can be at the cost of the integrity, and the very ideal upon which the government or organization was founded. Others have spoken about this predictable pattern in organizational dynamics. In Psychoanalysis and Religion.

Most groups, whether they are primitive tribes, nations, or religions, are concerned with their own survival and

upholding the power of their leaders, and they exploit the inherent moral sense of their members, to arouse them against outsiders with whom there is conflict. Moreover, they use the incestuous[1] tie which keep a person in moral bondage to his own group, to stifle his moral sense and his judgment, so that he will not criticize his own group for violations of moral principles: that if committed by others would drive him into violent opposition.

“Incestuous ties” is a psychoanalytic term. It refers to the bond of the individual to the group, which is compared to the oedipal[2] bond of the child towards the parent of the opposite sex.

Insofar as we are expected to make a commitment to ISKCON for life, we are liable to the dynamic described in the above passage; often the group dynamic is such that one finds within the group the same conduct that the group loathes in others.

The other point that is relevant here is that the group is concerned with its own survival, and the consolidating and upholding of the power of the leaders. Consequently, although much of what we hold as ideal values, are regularly disobeyed, we are not allowed to “criticize” this dynamic within our own circle, especially if it reflects badly on the leaders. To bring attention to such double standards often meets with condemnation. The observer may be branded an offender, a fault-finder, or a politician. This typical response serves to shift the focus from the issue, hypocrisy, to the character of the individual trying to address the problem.

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FOOT & NOTES:

[1] Incestuous: close and resistant to outside influence.

[2] Oedipal: relating to or characterized by an Oedipus complex (in Freudian theory) the complex of emotions aroused in a young child, typically around the age of four, by an unconscious sexual desire for the parent of the opposite sex and wish to exclude the parent of the same sex.