To to the devotee, only utter adoration is the acceptable response.
The devotee is in a world where there are no limitations, no history, eternal time for the devotee believes in and has surrendered to a person who is a Person beyond time, beyond history, beyond good beyond evil, beyond catagories, beyond morality.
There's no outside to this. None. Not for the devotee.
Evidence as we outsiders value it and evaluate it? Irrelevant, delusional.
History? Ditto. What an insult.
Sudhir Kakar, an Indian Hindu psychiatrist, sympathetically described followers ('Satsangis'
) of Charan Singh, a guru and leader of the Radhasaomi Beas sect. (Shamans, Mystics and Doctors
, 1982 pp 125 -126)
Dr. Kakar's observations appear to describe devotees of Srila Prabhupada and ISKCON.
After describing features of Radhasoami doctrine, practice and the complex sectarian rivalries within Radhasaomi, Kakar wrote:
"It is important to note here that for the Satangis
(of whatever persuasion) as indeed members of all mystical (groups), a historical account of the group's origin that does not read like the unfolding of a divine plan and biographical sketches of their gurus that are not exercises in hagiography are essentially
"(Disciples) feel that historical accounts are misleading since they reduce the eternal temporal and limit what is universal to the confines of a particular geographical region.
"The spiritual base and mystical regimen of the Radhasoami faith (or ISKCON - Corboy), they claim, are not the products of individuals or of historical movements, nor can they be explained by recourse to any psychological or sociological constructs. To its adherants, the Radhasoami faith is the real
teaching of every
saint at all
times of history. Christ and Buddha, Krishna and Kabir, the Sufi saints and the Sikh gurus, have all talked of and taught exactly the same journey on the road to self transformation. When the original core of major religious writing is uncovered,
the misunderstandings introduced due to later interpolations are removed and the missing links restored, then the mystical kernal of all religions, the Satsangis say, stands revealed as being identical with the teachings of Santmat.(Corboy note: change the nouns and you will see that Prabhupada and his devotees make the identical claim for their sect and would consider the Radhasoamis to be deluded if not evil.
"...The attempt at universalization
and hence at achieving permanance of the sect's theory and practice is also extended to the personage of its gurus. Instead of being individuals with distinctive names and personal histories, the gurus become "the embodiment of the Supreme Spirit"
and in a sense flow into each other."
(Corboy note: which is why devotees feel vitalized by reading this kind of literature, and non devotees usually feel puzzled or downright bored.)
It is possible to look at a group from two perspectives: in -group and out-group.
A non cultic group encourages or at least permits its members to regard
it from both an insider and outsider perspective.
For example, you can be an avid fan of Star Trek, yet at the same time be able to see yourself as non Trekkies see you,even laugh at an joke that satirizes Star Trek
As a Trekkie, you can accept the existence of outsider perspectives on Star Trek. You do not mind if people do not share your liking for Star Trek
Not ISKON. For the ISKCON devotee, the only acceptable, sane perspective
is that of the insider, the devotee. Period.
This is why anyone who respects Prabhupada's scholarship (as the Amazon 3 Star reviewer did) yet points out that Prabhupada's stance was sectarian and therefore limited, incurred wrath from Prabhupada devotees.
For the devotee. Mere respect for Prahbupada's scholarship is not enough. Mere respect is short of adoration and is therefore, to the Prabhupada devotee, an insult.
Why? Because, to the devotee Prabhupada exists
beyond history and therefore has no biases and no limitations!
Whatever the name of the sect, its devotees regard only the hagiographic, devotional stance as accurate. This corresponds to what anthropologists term
the in-group, emic
To the devotee, the out-group, 'etic' perspective is at best inaccurate, at worst, is regarded as deluded, demonic, evil.
Anyone who insists on viewing the sect in terms of history, social categories, is automatically an outsider -- a potential convert or an enemy.
It may be considered permissible, even necessary to lie to the outsider, either to convert that outsider to an insider/devotee -- or keep the outsider at a safe distance and conceal the group's actual sources of social power -- and often its wealth, weapons and any crime records)