Re: The mystical forces that drove some of us to Krishna Consciousness
Date: May 12, 2021 05:51AM
That is your version of what you believe to be Krishna Consciousness Whirlwind. That is by no means what Krishna Consciousness means to Prabhupada and his ardent followers and other Gaudiya groups. Not by a mile. The Krishna conception is very specific (sectarian is an understatement), its process very specific.
If it was what you describe, then it could have just as well been called garden variety Hinduism or "god consciousness" and leave it at that (Bhaktivedanta was very vocal about it not being "Hinduism", though many followers nowadays gladly hide under this umbrella term and are quick to call "hindu-phobia" on those critical of their group). It's not honest from the standpoint of representing what the krishna conception is to simply say it is "worship whatever god you like and don't eat meat. Saying that radhadasyam practiced and promoted by the Goswamis is what you describe here, is like saying Calculus is "just simple math".
Also, Bhaktivedanta and Saraswati thakur's suggested method of religious brotherhood and unity would require that Muslims, Christians et al adopt Gaudiya Vaishnava practices of loudly chanting Allahs or Christ's (etc) name in the street, and not eating animals.
Basically, unless they are suggesting a unity in the practical application of how such faiths are to worship, it seems useless to acknowledge that you can chant any name of your respective god and make spiritual progress. That's already going on in different religions, is it not? Why the need to preach about it? Because, of course, the Hare Krishnas do not truly believe that all paths are equal.
It seems that unless you ask all these different faiths to abide by a single mode of practice, worship style, and ultimately scriptures and god, you essentially already have a version of what Saraswati thakur proposes and what you have distilled it to mean.
It's idealistic and unrealistic to hope that everyone adopts the same process of kirtan and understands their gods to be the same as the gods of other faiths. Otherwise, why did we stop worshipping Indra and Zeus and any number of other gods if it was all the same god we were all talking about? Even in the Sri Vaishnava sect they do not recognize Chaitanya as an avatar of god.
And meat, regardless of what specific ideas one may have about it, is a part of the omnivorous human diet across the globe since the dawn of man. Before the evolution of the common cow, we hunted aurochs in mass numbers and eventually domesticated them as livestock in the general area of India, actually, as part of man's move to agriculture. India is one of the top producers of beef to this very day and it continues to contribute greatly to it's overall agricultural export.
All mass world religion started off with the naive hope and notion that if we all just did the same thing and believed in the same thing life would be a lot simpler.
The fact is, that the general mood of Bhaktivedanta and Saraswati was to crush the mudha and atheist. They spared little in making it clear that even among Vaishnava groups, there were those who they considered unauthorized, inauthentic, or chanting in the wrong mood or way. So much for chant and be happy vanilla ice cream Vaishnavism...
Ultimately, for better or worse, hare Krishna has become just another religion. There is nothing distinctly profound or unique about its offerings in contrast to other religious groups. Without getting too technical, they believe that the human experience is that of an embodied soul and that through an assortment of religious beliefs and practices one can go back to God or heaven. And ultimately, I think that if anything, what makes me personally view the group as a religious cult is in the fine type. There are many core belief systems in the philosophy and practices that become Central components to gauging the so-called advancement of a practitioner, the authority of a particular teacher and ultimately adding layers of complexity that result in a web of rules, regulations and mechanisms for control. And regardless if they are used for personal gain or abused by leaders and followers alike, they keep the average devotee pretty bound up in pointless rituals, dogma, dependence on the teacher for things that they should/could be using their own brain for.
In a contemporary humanist liberal capitalist democracy, there is already much unity and systems in place and mechanisms at work to provide equality and safety in human expression and so-called rights. In countries that adhere to these systems, which at this point is a good chunk of the world, most people are free to practice whatever religion they like, worship whatever God they like, follow whatever teacher they like, and in general, do what they feel makes them happy. We are also vastly connected in many other ways and have successfully amalgamized various cultures and traditions and are, within reason, increasingly a homogeneous melting pot of ideas and beliefs. In that sense, the brotherhood and unity and equality that the acharyas were hoping for has been achieved in as close an approximation and as realistic an expression as one could hope in contemporary modernist society. All without chanting a single name of any divinity.
The age-old argument between believers and non-believers, religious and atheistic or agnostic is not one that can ever be settled. In fact, if there is any major discord on the world platform in terms of peace and unity it often involves religious ideas and differences being at war, not secular and humanist ones.
And, in most cases, countries that have the most humanitarian, social and economic issues are largely ones that have not crawled out from under the rock of their medieval religious beliefs. That is not to say that religion, mythology and theology do not have a place in modern times. Or, that they were somehow irrelevant in the history of humans and the shaping of the world we have today. Science and religion will always be something that goes hand in hand on this planet. We will always explore ways to unify our beliefs and progress forward as a species, sharing resources and ideas.
The reason much of The Vedas have any relevance today is because they refrain from making absolutist statements. Much of the foundation of Vedic philosophy was built upon a naturalistic observing process. That said, it didn't take long before the composers and writers of such scriptures started to make bold claims, create various mantras, rituals and practices that were used in an attempt to unify divergent views. Philosophers, poets and priestly leaders fought in debates to try to establish hierarchy and superiority of various ideas. Vaishnavism claims as its authority the vedas. More specifically the recent puranas. And even more specifically the mythologies surrounding their specific gods. Much of these ideas and mythologies have very little to do with contemporary life and society in any relatable or relevant way.
In fact, it may be more logical to do away with any particular God altogether and focus on humans and our needs rather than thinking that our satisfaction and fulfillment lie somewhere beyond. Neither here nor there. A friendly suggestion from your village atheist idiot.
As far as this forum, thread etc: This place is actually for people skeptical of cults they are in, have been in, or groups they are interested in joining but want more information on. It's meant to be a safe haven for those who want to express their doubts. If someone comes here and they cannot find a kindred spirit in a stream of copy-pasted quotes from gurus and religious fanatic it starts to lose its purpose.
There are MANY forums where people argue what prabhpada really meant when he said women are less intelligent and enjoy being raped. Here, I assume, people are coming because they have seen such statements or heard such rhetoric or experienced the end result of such ideas within the group structure and want to speak up, get out, or see if others echo their feelings about that. And yes, we do.
So when someone comes on here to create a distraction and their only claim to being here is that they experienced some abstract trauma and don't like some of it but, by the way, here is 100 copy-pasted verses from my scriptures and feel-good hippie quotes from my guru—well, it distorts and confuses already fragile people.
On that note, I do believe you went through your own stuff. I know TruthWins went through things they deem "unbelievable" and "crazy". I can assure you both, it cannot get crazier than what these cults teach/believe. Not even close.
I have had repeated dreams for more than 25 years of being stuck in the Gurukula I went to with no way to leave. It's a nightmare and it was 100% born out of a deeply rooted fear that was wedged in every fiber of my being when I was a child. It screamed: YOU DO NOT BELONG HERE. GET THE FUCK OUT.
In years that I was meant to be enjoying my youth, trusting my parents, going to school and learning about the world I was being told my father and extended family were demons, the world was dangerous, education was useless and the sun gets pulled around by a chariot with horses... Meanwhile, I was getting fondled, waking up at 4am, taking cold bucket showers and chanting a mantra on repeat in a dark temple room. I listened to lecture after lecture of my guru call gay people faggots, Muslims demons and a bunch of other total nonsense in terms of basic science and rational thought.
Upon returning to the west I was unable to enroll in any public school as I was literally unable to walk into a public school without getting a panic attack and shaking. When I tried to dive fully into my spiritual life and take inspiration from other Gaudiya guru's, my guru denounced my family for feeling like they "needed more" inspiration from other living association (you know, besides his taped lectures we heard a million times).
We guru-hopped for years, spent time traveling to "holy places" in India while doing the "pick" and telling people we were "feeding children in India" to collect "laxmi".
I saw devotees around me doing drugs and having illicit sex, but because they wore brahmin threads they were allowed to serve on the altar and give lectures. Some of the best lectures I heard were from the most nonsense people.
I saw families broken apart, gaudiya groups fighting about their claims to fame and what you would think were settled points in the philosophy (jiva tattva and diksha/shiksha anyone???). People abandoning careers, education and any number of talents so they can "pursue their spiritual life".
On Sundays devotees gathered, as church-goers do, to "wash the sins of their week" away. My mother became so fanatical that she was having my 2 and 4 year old kids bowing to pictures of her guru instead of playing with them. I saw devotee after devotee, some who have chanted for more than 40 years, be just as afflicted by anger, desire and any number of material realities—no better than the bhakta who just started coming around, if not worse.
So no, I have zero faith in this garbage. God is not here to shepherd his faithful in any capacity. I started looking at the silly things I was doing to myself too: Shaving my head and leaving a silly ponytail, wearing tight beads around my neck, drawing clay markings all over my body, wearing pink dhotis and wrapping my brahmin thread around my ear when I take a dump. There was no fluidity and autonomy in anything I did at a certain point. Just repetition of words, verses, mantras, rituals etc. It seemed awful odd that a god would create a world with so much variety and beauty and wonder and culture and here we're meant to just do the same shit every day forever and be scared of the world around us because maya could ensnare us at any moment.
It felt like I had built my own box and was now forcing myself to live in it. My solution to everything was to chant or pray. I lost taste and desire to enjoy basic things and better my material condition in any way. My ambitions to excel or try at anything were met with self-talk of "what for? It all has no value. The only thing that matters is krishna's name". I felt anxious, had repeated panic and anxiety attacks, was depressed and frustrated. No amount of chanting was lifting the cloud.
I immediately blamed myself. I was being offensive somehow (well before I ever smoked weed or drank or had a relationship—none of which I do and I have been happily married for over 15 years without god and guru telling me how to wipe my ass). I made a personal inventory of what ways I was being offensive: Not waking up early enough to fit in all my japa (16 rounds BTW is low. Saraswati had his followers chanitng 64+ daily). Not concentrating hard enough on the holy name when chanting. Not enough seva. Gurudev is displeased with me because I forgot to put the right earring on Giriraj and did not put a tulsi leaf on the sweet. Not enough sukriti, is this a test? Should I pray to Nityananda, Jiva Goswami, Harida Thakur, chant more rounds, read Jaiva Dharma again?... holy shit, just thinking about it all is bringing up emotions and heavy breathing. It's been 25 years...
The complexity and layering of assorted personages (guru's saints, gods, devotee hierarchy etc), amalgamated teachings of samkhya (duelism), Buddhism, Brahmanism (monism), yoga (hatha, jnana, karma, bhakti) and now, apparently Christianity and Islam as well (since it appears they want to appeal to everyone), as well as assorted competing myths, gods of varying importance and worship styles (diety worship, assorted rituals like japa, tulsi worship), Vaishnava dress (tilka, saris, dhotis, brahman threads, sanyas vesh colors, householder vesh colors etc)—all create a veritable mind-fuck of information lacking any simplicity of application and function, let alone comprehension as to why one needs to do the equivalent of acrobatic body contortion with one's mind to make sense of this cult. And please don't tell me that I am making it more complicated than it really is. I didn't invent this shit.
It's no wonder people like you have chosen to water it way down and propose a simple happy-go-lucky version. The former simply lends itself to a cultish expression no matter how you slice it. It's definitely not "universal" and by any means, nor easy to comprehend, follow and apply in any meaningful way.
I'll leave it at that. Maybe someone will resonate with me.