Aspects of Vaisnava Theory & Practice
Making a "Case" for the Reconstitution of Srila Prabhupada's "Mission"
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Chapter 7
Authoritarian and Humanitarian Dynamics “Symptoms of Authoritarianism and Cultish Dynamics in Our Society.”

There are two types of religion, authoritarian and humanitarian. The first distinction, is that we must distinguish between types of religion and religious experience itself.

By “religious experience” we do not mean anything mystical; it means the “subjective [1] experience”, within the religious group, ideology notwithstanding.

Humanitarian religion” is nothing but the dynamics of personalism.

Instead of us bringing out the best in people and turning them into men and women of integrity, self-confident, purposeful people, we are turning out enfeebled men and women fit for raising money, being celebrity fans, and blind (even fanatical) followers, whose appreciation of the process emphasizes guru more than sastra as the basis of understanding.

Sastra (Scripture), is the basis of understanding in our philosophy. Every devotee should be trained to see through the eyes of sastra. Srila Prabhupada wanted this.

There are other ramifications for a person who is under the spell of these anarthas. Apart from exploiting the society, if he has disciples, they are also in jeopardy. ISKCON has had a number of instances where major figures have fallen prey to these anarthas that can spring from the overwhelming facility and largesse that can accrue to the preacher-senior-devotee-guru. The aftershocks of these mishaps are still being felt in ISKCON as a whole and in the hearts of the victims. People sometimes remain devotees, but they are emotionally scarred. Many have gone away embittered. Some go on in the process, but feebly. They are not joyfully performing Krishna consciousness.

In this connection, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has said that “subtle-sex-life” is more difficult to overcome/control; then “gross-sex-life”.  Subtle sex life is “profit”, “adoration” and “distinction”.

Before Srila Prabhupada disappearance Bhavananda, a GBC and Sannaysi, was well known to be a wicked and sinful practicing homosexual, even when Prabhupada was with us.  And there was Bhagavan, a GBC and Sannaysi, was well known to be just as wicked and sinful womanizer. Moreover, there was the even more wicked and evil Kirtanananda, one of the first disciples, also a Sannaysi, who, even while Prabhupada was with us, this unscrupulous sub-human, was a practicing pedophile homosexual.  How could something like that happen during Srila Prabhupada presents?  I sincerely believe, and understand, that the answer(s) to that question may be sought, for I believe that there is an answer(s), and it possible to find it/them. 

 I am too old for such a quest; therefore, I will simply say that,

“I know what happened, I do not understand why, I may not have the capacity to understand why, and it may remain a mystery for ‘eons’”.

Even more sinister, these three where members of the notorious 11 Srila Prabhupada disciple who within a year after Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance, they both became two of the first 11 ISKCON Gurus, and within a few years, they both were finally excommunicated from ISKCON, more or less.  It just happens that was “less”.

I have met former disciples, that I refer to as “the walking wounded.” Other devotees have assured me that similarly “wounded” persons are in other parts of the world. It pains me to see how these persons came to ISKCON seeking the shelter of Srila Prabhupada and got psychologically mauled. Not only did their gurus fail them, moreover, ISKCON failed them. ISKCON failed them because they were not trained to understand that their primary attachment is to the process of bhakti. ISKCON failed to train them in asammoha according to Prabhupada’s definition.

Bhagavad-gita 10.4-5 Purport:

Asammoha, freedom from doubt and delusion, can be achieved when one is not hesitant and when he understands the transcendental philosophy. Slowly but surely, he becomes free from bewilderment. Nothing should be accepted blindly; everything should be accepted with care and with caution.”

The irony is that:

  • Krishna consciousness is supposed to remove bewilderment.
  • Krishna consciousness is supposed to be the positive alternative.
  • Krishna consciousness is for curing neuroses as we progress to self-realization.
  • If we are embedding neuroses, we have to understand we have a problem. We are malfunctioning.
  • Health means to address the problem. Skirting the problem means that we are also suffering from a neurosis.

It would be interesting to conduct a psychological survey of ISKCON. Such information would help us to learn from our mistakes. We need to learn from our mistakes, if not out of pure wisdom, then out of fear of the principle that history repeats itself. Considering all the negative historical precedents we have experienced, is it not prudent that we have some members serve as a conscience for ISKCON?

Quotes that are applicable to Chapter 7:

  • The true test of independent judgment is being able to dislike someone who admires us.
  • Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections, but instantly set about remedying them—every day begin the task anew
  • The real great man is the man who makes every man feel great.
  • It is easier to suppress the first desire than to satisfy all that follow it.
  • When we lose our individual independence in the corporateness of a mass movement, we find a new freedom – freedom to hate, bully, lie, torture, murder, and betray without shame and remorse. Herein undoubtedly lies part of the attractiveness of a mass movement.
  • I believe the State exists for the development of individual lives, not individuals for the development of the State.
  • I do not feel obliged to believe that that same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.
  • The test of courage comes when we are in the minority; the test of tolerance comes when we are in the majority.
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[1] Subjective: based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes, or opinion