Thursday, July 30, 2009

Going ISKCON 4:The Grudge

This is the concluding part of a 4 part series on my experiences with ISKCON.

Please read introduction,section 2 & section 3 by following the links.
So all of this is fine. However the association with ISKCON comes with a price.The devotees have sold their soul for the 'perfect' life they are living. Most of these bhaktas marry and lead a outwardly normal life. But in a way, they live a life of deceit. They never tell their parents , until its too late , that they are having a completely different set of believes and practices.The children of these bhaktas are brought up in a closed environment where they are taught that everything in the outside world is evil and they are only messengers of God.

The opinion of the bhaktas on most things are narrow. They discredit most scientific theories because they are not a source of happiness. Although discussion within the group are encouraged ,before joining they are made to accept a few assumptions.

One - That Krishna is supreme lord. He passed his knowledge to his disciples and everything they believe had been handed down by lord himself through a disciplic succession. This series of disciples involve historical and mythological figures and the link between the two is something which cannot be questioned .

Two- the only way to become god conscious is to be a part of this line of disciples. (Nothing else will do.)So, only by coming into contact with this succession can one achieve moksha.

So , basically any scientific theory -such as Big bang, theory of evolution etc which contradicts anything in the knowledge bank is simply NOT accepted. Any discussion which happens is done within the space where the above are true.

Proof for the above is simple- faith.So, anything is accepted- lying , stealing,begging,even murder-provided the purpose of is to impress the lord.

Another rule ,which is an offshoot of the above is that the Guru cannot be questioned. The analogy given is usually that of a parent and child. Just like a child cannot find its path in life without the guidance of parents, a raw devotee cannot find his path in the spiritual world without the guru. And this rule holds good for ever. Anyone senior to you HAS to be obeyed and likewise-anyone junior to you will not question you. If the guru makes a statement like-'democracy is for fools'- the mind has to search for examples which justify this . To even think of contradicting the opinion is considered  a major sin.

But perhaps the greatest grudge which I have is of the false sense of humility which they have. No doubt they have a humble lifestyle- simple food, clothes, etc. But early in their initiation, the fact that -being a part of ISKCON philosophy makes them special, is deeply drilled in to their minds. The need to be superior to the normal populace is one of the strong driving forces which makes them join the movement in the first place. They cannot realize that actually want superior societal status-when they initially join the movement.
The lectures of the Guru in ISKCON during the initiating is full of anecdotal stories . Its not hard to convince anyone that we are all headed towards certain doom.Anyway, during the initiation a key question which comes up is this-"what makes your path different than other religions?". A very standard question asked by almost all targets. The answer is this-"Christianity and Islam are also path to God. No doubt. But they are inferior.

The following would be said to you as a part of the answer to the above questin-"In Bible, there is a line which says -Do not kill . Its not for you and me, because we are not people who do such things. Its for lower levels of human birth. Islam too is very similar. There is a quotation which says do not sleep with your friends wife. If you are someone who thinks along those lines-then Islam is for you. We are all born,based on our activities in previous birth, at a level.Islam is for people in lower levels, Christianity for next level, and vedas are only for people who are of highest calibre and if you can accept this YOU belong to the best." The last sentence is key. The target is made to believe that accepting the principles makes him superior . For someone who trusts the speaker, not accepting the above does not mean the theory is false-It means that he is dumb and that path is never taken.
Its only by telling the targets that they are better off than any religion that they are convinced that this is the right path. How is is possible that a path to spiritual awareness begins with belittling the principles of other religions?

I dont think anything here would offend any ISKCON devotee. They would agree that everything here,but for my opinions are true. They would also add that they used to think in similar lines when they were new to the organization,but after understanding the pure intentions of the Krishna Bhaktas they have supressed such thoughts successfully.

As a finishing thought I can share another analogy commonly shared by the devotees. The bhaktas are not allowed to read anti-ISKCON material online, talk to people who are experts in other religions or even have independent ideas. Yet, they refer to people living in the material world as frog in a well who thinks that the well is the world(Koopa-mandooka). Its a pity that their arrogance and narrow thought makes them think that they are the last hope of mankind in aspects of  humility and intelligence.& as manju once put it- Weird people:weird world.

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