21st Oct, 2011
ORTHOPRAXY over ORTHODOXY
The spiritual vehicle driving Indian belief was assembled by God Himself. All attempts by historians to trace its origins have fallen short. When Persian invaders confronted the vehicle for the first time, they were confounded in that although Indians were devout, the vehicle and its passengers had no particular name. Reasons were as obvious then as they are today: because of the vast range of traditions and practices, arriving at a single definition was not possible. Although there were similarities in beliefs, e.g. reincarnation, karma, mukti, etc., there was no single system of soteriology, nor was there a centralized authority or bureaucratic structure. So it was that the Persians, monotheists by tradition, encountering for the first time a polytheistic civilization unified in diversity, decided to give the beliefs and practitioners a collective appellation for purpose of identification. Using geographical location as identity, Persians called the people "Hindu," because they were domiciled beyond the Indus River (Indu, taken from Sanskrit- Sindhu.) To define the belief structures and rituals in one word, in 1830 the "ism" was added. Indians, opposed by foreign invaders and armies in occupation, appropriated the appellation to establish a national identity.
So where does the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) fit in with Hinduism? To understand the history of this recently founded sect, we present a parabola: God made a vehicle for His people. Its engine comprised powers of His manifestation in various parts. The vehicle serviced people of Bharatvarsh then, as it does today. Amazed at the proficiency of the vehicle in its diverse application, foreigners gave it a name- "Hindu." One group of Bharatvarsh citizens, inspired by plans to capture shares in a free market, took a single aspect of the original engine, and attempted designing their own vehicle. In an atmosphere of liberality, the group was given all facility to advance the model. The model was named "Gaudiya." After centuries of trial and error, the enterprise did not find a market even in its home of manufacture, and the venture fragmented. Unfazed by demise of the group, one of its entrepreneurs translated manuals of the Gaudiya model and marketed it in foreign lands. The enterprise attracted foreign investment, and with its success the vehicle was renamed- "ISKCON." Now if we were to leave the story here, no one would need bother further. But that just isn't the case. There is a great deal of botheration, so we will continue.
With success of the new enterprise, and remembering well failure and loss of the project in its homeland, the entrepreneur (now titled- Founder,) released a tirade of animadversions against his countrymen. So upset was he with the earlier lack of support, he claimed the engine driving ISKCON was not Hindu due to the fact it existed before Persians named the engine. And further, the name itself was not synonymous with the engine because it identified a geographical location and people domiciled therein. In spite of filling the ISKCON vehicle with a fuel unique to the Hindu engine, the founder of new ISKCON wrote: "There is a misconception that the Krishna conscious movement represents the Hindu religion. Sometimes Indians both inside and outside of India think that we are preaching the Hindu religion, but actually we are not.....[...]....The Krishna consciousness movement has nothing to do with the Hindu religion or any system of religion...One should clearly understand the Krishna consciousness movement is not preaching the so-called Hindu religion." (Science of Self Realization.)
The statement proved a conundrum for Hindus. After all, the new sect was celebrating Hindu festivals, they dressed like Hindus, had Hindu names, sang bhajans, worshipped with Hindu rituals, visited Hindu pilgrimage sites in India, cooked Hindu recipes, had Hindu style temples with deities that were worshipped for millennia by Hindus, chanted from Hindu scriptures, and even spoke with phoney Hindu accents. On reading the statement many Indians shook their heads in wonderment. If it speaks like a....dances like a....eats like a...it must be a....? Being how they are tolerant of all things religious, and also because the statement (above) was made by an elderly Indian holy-man, the Hindus chose to smile and continued to offer support. Behavior takes precedence over belief—orthopraxy over orthodoxy. Indians have been raised to never gainsay a holy man no matter what his sect; a trait that leaves them open to exploitation.
To further distance the new enterprise from its Hindu roots A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami wrote: Regarding the Hindu community: Don't expect anything very wonderful from them, as we have got experience in Montreal—they have come in the foreign countries to earn money. As such, you cannot expect any cultural contribution. So you will tactfully deal with them, and whenever possible, vehemently protest against their foolish ideas. But you should try to support your statements on the strength of Bhagavatam and Bhagavad-gita. Best thing will be to avoid them as far as possible. I am concerned to preach this gospel amongst the Europeans and Americans, and I am not at all interested to preach amongst the Indians, because they have now become hodge-podge, due to so many years of subjugation by foreigners, and having lost their own culture. (Letter to Gurudas '68.)
Pupilliary succession is an extremely important process in all branches of Hinduism. This was also imbibed, and even emphasized to extremes in the indoctrination of the new investors in the newly modeled ISKCON vehicle. What resulted was a superiority complex demonstrated by the cult's members to this day. With a total disregard for historical fact, or for the hurt being caused to Hindus who had never even heard of the Gaudiya Math and its failure, the Hindu bashing began in earnest.
To begin with, a concerted effort was launched to separate the deity Krishna from those who had worshipped and preserved bhakti rituals since time immemorial. Students of A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, felt the need to advocate their master's breakaway from all things Hindu. To do this, they followed in the footsteps of the founder by targeting the origins of the word- 'Hindu.' Reasoning that if it could be proven no such word existed, then how could there be a Hindu people making claims to a Hindu deity named Krishna? A strategy was crafted and promoted in public talks and whenever the new cult's origins and beliefs were questioned. Here it is:
"The name "Hindu" is not a sanskrit derived word [bereft of sanskrit etymology]. The term "Hindu" is from external cultures used in recent antiquity as broad sweeping catch-all name for the Culture of Peoples living beyond the Indus Valley and Sindhu River."
Actually the word Hindu does have its roots in the Sanskrit word 'Sindhu,' but more importantly, historical research using methods to go as far back in time as possible, have recorded these findings: "Worship of a deity of Krishna, in the form of Vasudeva, Bala Krishna or Gopala, can be traced to as early as 4th century BC. Worship of Krishna as svayam bhagavan, or the Supreme Being, known as Krishnaism, arose in the Middle Ages in the context of the bhakti movement." (Hein, Norvin. "A Revolution in K???aism.) There is no record of any "Gaudiya" or "ISKCON" cult recorded in the 4th century BC., so we must conclude that the bhakti cult being referred to by historians were the later denominated Hindus of Bharatvarsh. Ergo we can understand that the Gaudiya cult had taken a product that was already on the market, hammered it out of shape, and tried flogging it for a profit. No one sued for copyright but the venture still went bust. Which brings us back to ISKCON.
Now had the newly marketed cult continued the success it met with initially, everything would have been right. However, soon after the alleged homicidal poisoning of its founder, the new cult began to stink and pollute the spiritual atmosphere with perversions. Foreign investors began pulling out of the ISKCON manufacturing process, and the cult was in déjà vu. Temples could not man basic services and coffers were filling with roaches. Whenever the cult's management looked up all they saw were Hindus; as it remains today. In desperation, the founder's instructions were shelved (or compromised) and a new "Hindu conversion" strategy was put in place: "The Indian Life Membership Program." What was at first extended by the founder as an opportunity for Hindus to repent earlier neglect, was revved into a "Find them, Fleece them, or Forget them" campaign. Soon Hindus were representing the cult on all levels, giving it a mainstream status. Journalists and representatives of information services were being fed the Hindus-r-us tiger's eggs. The world was being warned off; being made to understand that the cult raping its children, and whose celibate priests were rampant homosexuals, were actually part of the influential Hindu community. Here it is:
New World Encyclopedia: The movement is a modern lineage of Gaudiya Vaishnavism, a sect of Hinduism that has existed in India ever since the late 1400s.
Wikipedia: The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), also known as the Hare Krishna movement, is a Hindu Gaudiya Vaishnava religious organization.
Wikipedia: Krishna (Hindi/Sanskrit , pronounced ['krishna] literally "dark, black, dark-blue") is a central figure of Hinduism and is traditionally attributed the authorship of the Bhagavad Gita
Overview of World Religions (OWR)
1) ISKCON is in many respects a traditional Hindu movement, although it has gradually become more Westernized in the West, particularly since its founder's death. Its theology is traditional, derived largely from the Vaishnava Hinduism from which it claims its lineage.
2)ISKCON traces its origins back to the Vaishnava Hindu tradition founded by the sixteenth-century Indian mystic Chaitanya.
3) ISKCON is widely accepted as authentically Hindu within the Western and Indian Hindu communities, and is a member of the European Council of Hindu organizations.
4)Hindu iconography is a major influence on ISKCON, and images of the Hindu gods decorate its temples and publications, particularly Krishna.
5) ISKCON officially claims around 3000 full-time members worldwide with an additional 200,000 'congregational' members and approximately 300,000 sympathizers within the Hindu community.
Here we can see ISKCON temples advertising themselves as Hindus:
HINDU TEMPLES website: Hare Krishna Hindu temple, Washington, Seattle. Hare Krishna Hindu temple in Atlanta, Georgia. Hare Krishna Hindu temple, Michigan.
Are we to believe reporters connected to these information sites decided independently that the cult was Hindu, and contrary to the expressed wishes of ISKCON's founder? We don't think so. Common sense dictates that journalists were informed by ISKCON management regards the cult's Hindu status. If this were not true then management would have requested sources correct the misinformation. Quod erat demonstrandum.
As one reporter remarked:
"So why does the general Hindu community mistakenly believe that ISKCON is a Hindu organization, when it never describes itself as such? Well, it sometimes does. During the recent ISKCON temple openings in New Delhi and Bangalore, where newspaper reports frequently identified the grand temples as Hindu, the ISKCON press releases, such as that of April 15, 1998, never used the H word. Yet, when Indian devotees serving at each of those temples were asked in late July by journalists for this article, they said it is a Hindu temple. The discrepancy between public perception and internal policy is further confused by the group's official exceptions to the non-Hindu position. Faced with difficulties, ISKCON leaders have appealed to the Hindu community to back them up, as in a dispute over the Bhaktivedanta Manor in the UK or when being hassled by Christians in Russia and Poland. In appeals to judges and governments, the word Hindu is openly used. In other legal cases, including one to the US Supreme Court, ISKCON has attempted to counteract the "cult" label by claiming to be a traditional Hindu lineage, and asked other Hindus to affirm this in the courts. Other organizations who parted company with Hinduism, such as Transcendental Meditation and Brahma Kumaris, do not compromise their position under any circumstances.
What also sets ISKCON apart is its open repudiation and criticism of Hinduism, especially among members. There are reports of Hindus who joined ISKCON only to be taught to reject their family's religion. "Previously we were Hindus. Now we are Hare Krishnas," some said. At the same time, the organization often appeals to the Hindu community and businessmen for financial support of its social programs and political help to protect ISKCON from detractors....."
Now we will turn our attention to the views and opinions of Hindus yet to be expressed publicly, many of whom are devout and extremely well read in the ancient scriptures. What they have to say should bring up the red flags, if not peal alarm bells for ISKCON. We made hint of this in an earlier posting, wherein we reported the cult's books being banned in Gujarat (now Russia, as well.) In our article "Debate," we requested ISKCON's Governing Body Commission come forward and debate publicly (on TV) protectors of the Hindu scriptures, who, alerted to ISKCON's nefarious activities, are initiating action against the cult to identify it and remove it from claims to Hinduism and Hindu support.
Two recent postings * on an ISKCON related web site brings to fore the situation currently evolving. The first article entitled- "Durga Puja at ISKCON Seattle," denigrates management for facilitating worship of a demigoddess: an activity forbidden by the cult's founder. To emphasize the writer's understanding of cult protocols, he quotes the founder A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami:
"Just like this Durga Puja, they'll want dhanam dehi rupam dehi rupavati dehi rupavati-bharyam dehi yas dehi, this dehi that dehi, dehi, dehi...There is no limit how much they are asking. Therefore they are called sarva-kama. You go on supplying a karmi; he'll never be satisfied. "More, more, more.....You go to so many businessmen--they have got crores and lakhs--but if you want to talk something about Krishna, they have no time: Please take your money, contirbution(sic). Let us do business." Because their kama is never satisfied."
"Now the Durga Puja is going on. This is also recommended in the Vedic sastra, that those who want material opulence... Material opulence means riches and good wife. For this purpose, sastra recommends that you can worship Durga. There are different purposes, and different demigod worships are recommended. But at the conclusion it is said that,
There are three kinds of men: akama... Akama means one who has no desire. Desire there is--not material desire. Desire you cannot kill. Desire must be there. We have to simply transfer the quality of the desire. Instead of desiring material opulence, we have to desire the favor of Krsna. That is spiritual. (Lecture on Srimad Bhagavatam, Oct 23, 1974, Mayapur.)
ISKCON, Credit Card Puja
* http://www.harekrsna.com/sun/news/10-11/news4014.htmFor our readers who do not know: Durga Puja is a four day long celebration (Saptami to Dashami). For Hindus, it is the biggest annual festival in Bengal, Assam, Orissa, Bihar, Jarakhand and Nepal. Celebrations are likewise upheld with much fervor in various parts of India, especially the Himalayan region, but is celebrated in various forms throughout the Hindu universe.
So, as can be imagined, the statement by Bhaktivedanta Swami, attributed to the Vedas, hurt many Hindus at time of issue. And more so after it was revealed by his personal secretary in later years that Swamiji had not read the Vedas- " I have not studied all the Vedas and Upanisads. I have read only Bhagavad Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam (TKG's Diary.) But, as is the nature of Hindu people, they bowed their heads and swallowed. With the re-emergence of these hurtful quotes touted by students ("Prabhupada said") in a cult that is now known to be crude and debased, Bharat Ratna scholars (Vedalankars) are studying cult literatures to pin-point the source of misunderstandings and mistranslations. Nowhere in the ritual incantations to Goddess Durga, can the above translation demanding material satisfaction be found. Further, the interpretation is being challenged as perverse, bent for personal ambition, and abusive to the nation of Hindustan; the Goddess and Her worshippers.
We at BIF, once again bring to attention the crisis facing ISKCON. Vedic scholars are in the throes of publicly declaring Sanskrit vernacular used by the cult to be a derivation of Vedic Sanskrit. In translation much has been omitted, but even more alarmingly, much has been added and enhanced to brainwash postulants and excite conversions. More than this we do not know at this point in time, other than to say the literature is under intense scrutiny for its translations, and for purports that are abusive to Government, Hindustan, Hinduism, Hindus, women, children, and recognized Hindu exemplars. Areas specifically dealing with the equation of teacher=guru=God, is being deemed a possible cause for horrendous abuse of children, exploitation of women, theft by deception, and the purloining of public coffers. Consternation sits heavy on the brow of all concerned. It is unanimously agreed and historically affirmed that only extreme cults follow this line of indoctrination.
"In a world of political correctness, where equality is a civil right, the rhetoric and terminology used freely and publicly by the on-again off-again Hindu sect- Iskcon, is abusive, derogatory, sexist, racist, slanderous, libelous and actionable. No more so than when dealing with the people of Hindustan. In an evangelical bid to establish a monotheistic identity in an ancient polytheistic system of beliefs, Iskcon hammers the chain tethering it to Hinduism by festivals, dress, names, bhajans, worship, pilgrimage sites, food, temples, and by scriptures hammered to cult fit. This 'hammering' translates into verbiage disguised as orthodoxy aimed at denigrating Hindus into accepting- "We are Hindus, but they are superior." Some have even fallen prey to the cannibalism by explanation - 'We were Hindus, but now we are Hare Krishnas." S.G. Das