Re: Chris Butler, Jagad Guru, Science of Identity
Date: May 27, 2023 03:36AM
Religious movements are created all the time. Some gain momentum, some attract only a few followers then dwindle and die. Some are riddled with hypocrisy and corruption, some hide it well, and some are otherwise benign with simple teachings of brotherhood and communal service/kindness.
We don't know much of anything substantial about Chaitanya. The supposed and claimed scholar left NO WRITTEN VERIFIABLE WORK. None. So all we have is secondhand "stories" that read like exaggerated fairy tales.
We have little to no info about the so-called maha-mantra. Other than a single questionable (only Gaudiya Vaishnavas really accept or know about this scripture) text, there is no mention of Kirtan being a yuga dharma in the gita, or any authentic vedic text. Is ritual chanting a part of religious culture in general, absolutely! But nowhere is it explicitly mentioned that the Hare Krishna/Hare Rama mantra is a "maha-mantra" any more than there are many "maha-mantras" in assorted scriptures. There are shaivite mahamantras, vishnu mahamantras, ganesh and sri laxmi mahamantras etc etc... Too many to count. AND, many of those mahamantars have substantial mention in many verified scriptures. To be "absolutist" and factually "vedic" mantra chanting was the domain of the priests and upper castes. In fact women were not allowed to hear or chant the mantras traditionally. Vedically, as far as true aryan culture from which these myths and literature came from made zero claims of Krishna being a top diety, nor vishnu nor shiva. At best, brahman is loosely and doubtfully espoused as a primordial eternal and all-encompassing force. The rig vedas most famous verses even doubt if what they state is factual:
“Who really knows, and who can swear,
How creation came, when or where!
Even gods came after creation's day,
Who really knows and who can truly say,
When and how did creation start?
Did He do it? Or did He not?
Only He, up there, knows, maybe;
Or perhaps, not even He.”
The so-called "brahma Samhita" is a questionable text that was likely written by Gaudiyas to bolster their claims of superiority. As were other supplemental texts that only gaudiyas accept as authentic and will quote exclusively and adnaseum to support the idea of chaitanya saint being a avatar incarnation of a little-known puranic goddess names radha and the playboy cowherd god krishna. Not to mention, the so-called brahman samhita is not mentioned in ANY other scriptures. AND, all that is claimed to be found is the 5th chapter. Who knows what the rest of it said. I f one follows the general train of thought of most so-called vedic/upananshadic/puranic works, the samhita may very well have changed it's tune mid-way and given an entirely different conclusion in the end... who knows? Maybe not even he...
The purnaic evolution of the krishna god is an amalgamation of divinities both greek, persian and Indian to construct an ideal deity. No vedic text even mentions him once. None of the 4 vedas state anything about radha or krishna. Largely the vedas are worldly texts that are telling of human desire and the ritual habits of a pastoral peoples priestly caste. At best a pegan faith with anthropomorphic nature deities found in most ancient religions cultures. Later, to try to create a chain of authenticity, such deities were woven into Puranic tales to create a loose connection to so-called "vedic" knowledge. Which, to this day is difficult to really explain what that really is.
Bhaktivinode created a patriarchal sampradaya when his son became the sole heir to the one true "gauduya" line (and never let anyone forget it). To bolster this, they had visions and dreams to dictate new areas of Yogapitha and demeaned and insulted any baba and sadhu that disagreed with them—instructing their followers to keep away from all other Gaudiya groups. Even Bhaktisiddhnatas own brother did not agree with much of his "siddhanta".
Name one text that you have read of Bhaktisiddhantas that is intelligible. Mostly it is mindless neo-scholarly mumbo-jumbo he is making up on the spot. Same for his father. They cherry-pick a verse here and a verse there and mostly use scriptures only recognized by their own cult. and while there is absolutely no question they believe it and are 100% devoted to it, it does not negate the reality that they made it up and based it on obviously questionable ideology...
Hinduism, as a faith grew to such proportions because the fundamental quality of vedic teachings in early Upanishads, was focused on Brhaman, the universal, all-pervading conscious energy that is all we perceive. Other concepts like karma and reincarnation were borrowed and amalgamated and pretty much taught in all major eastern schools. If you want to get technical pretty much all world religions believe in a version of karma theory, and reincarnation is taught in both theistic and atheist schools as an idea of transformation of forms both physical and subtle.
Bhaktivedanta was a hardline literalist in his conception of vedic and puranic ideology. He literally thought krishna was a blue god who held a flute, liked cows and wore yellow on a daily basis. These things were not just symbolic ideation to help in formalizing a meditation on brahman or how these idols and gods were used by Upanashadic thinkers as mental talismans and focal points to train the mind.
Bhaktivedanta's ultra-literal translations of the bhagavata and other puranic and upanashadic works is at times so naive and laughable it hurts that so many fell so hard for it. But then again, it was the 60s, and drugs had done a number on many hippie brains.
Bhaktivedanta mostly led his cult with fear. Look at the images he had his artists paint for his books of so-called hellish planets and Narasimha tearing intestines from HIrnayakashipu. He taught a philosophy on the sole premise that we should chant a mantra with faith all things will fall into place. I am not sure if you have met a single devotee that has worked out for at face value, advanced or neophyte alike.
While dancing in the street chanting is largely harmless and may be a happy activity, preaching and proselytizing as a religious practice lacks in taste and is invasive, arrogant and exhibiting of the lack of faith people actually have in their god. Any god who requires that people shave their heads, wear robes and chant like fools in the street is surely making a mockery of humankind.
Spirituality is a personal practice. "Divinity" (or an inherent sense of wonder and mystery) exhibits itself in ones life in some personal way that is unique to each of us. A god that asks for uniform expression of worship from all followers is a human invention for mass control. A true opiate for the people. Inducing docile thinking and rote behavior and, well, stupidity, lack of critical thinking and naivety. Basically making sheep of men. Hence it's so easy to tell a bunch of devotees to walk around a tulsi plant multiple times or chant repeatedly and mindlessly on beads to finish their "rounds" without anyone stopping and asking why. If a mantra is so powerful and like god, why does one have to repeat it a million times to hopefully see some unmeasurable benefit?
If karma and sukriti dictates if one comes to "god" in the human form, then isn't it a bit odd that we need to preach, host public kirtans and distribute books that end up in the trash? If a person is not ready karmically for receiving a certain knowledge what are we wasting our breath for? again, it's a sign of a lack of faith in their own god to even make an attempt to preach as it goes against their own beliefs about karma, sukriti and so on.
On top of that, Kirtan and other invasive preaching tactics also elicit a negative and "offensive" result as most people approached by Hare Krishnas in these ways recoil and have the immediate thought "Go away you idiot". So in that sense, they are inviting blasphemy and offenses. There is a reason that for most of history, so-called spirituality was practiced privately and in forests and with small groups of very dedicated practitioners.
And a devotee cannot say that chanting publically is "purifying" the general public when their own scriptures state that unless one hears the name of god from the lips of a pure devotee it has no effect. That unless one chant free of offenses it has no effect. This is in their own text. So how can something have no effect and at the same time be the prime spiritual activity for the age??? Bit this is simply one of a litany of contradictions in the cult. Siddhanta saraswati said that god does not even accept service from someone who is not chanting 64 rounds. I don't think Butler or his followers have ever chanted 64 rounds in their entire life. The point is, this so-called all-merciful process and unconditional love is actually very conditional. It requires 64 rounds, avoiding 10 offenses, a pure devotee guru (no way of really gauging who is a pure devotee and what that even actually means in a practical and observable sense), etc etc. Not to mention that Bhaktivinode plainly calls all those who worship god in a mood lower than that of a manjari cowherd girl is an "Ass-like_ devotee. This is in his books. I have posted this here and links to it before if you want to rummage through old posts. In fact, most of the lingo used by these "top" acharyas about other Vaishnava groups is generally derogatory and dismissive of their faith and practices. But then all of a sudden hey somehow try to attract new-comers by stating it is a "non-sectarian"?Sanatana Dharma available to all irrespective of their conception of god. But we all know this is just a disingenuous preaching method. And one you are in the cult, nothing could be further from the truth. don't believe me? Try to go into a SIF center and start a kirtan chanting the holy names of Allah and Ra and Zeus. Good luck with that...
I recall in these cults it was always the "preachers" that got a lot of attention and praise. But the fact is that we know from a psychological perspective that many people are introverts and the last thing they feel naturally compelled to do is "preach" and bounce around in public singing off-key. Never mind the fact that somehow preachers are immediately elevated to the level of "pure" and treated in the cult as celebrities. The reality is that I can give a very compelling lecture on any number of krishna conscious topics with little to no belief in the actual words coming out of my mouth. So preaching and preachers, as I have seen with my own eyes, are not generally the shining examples of what they propose and speak of anyway. Take Bhaktisiddhanta. Did he cross the seas by boat and airplane by sky to give the message of Chaitanya to the rest of the world? No. You know what stopped him? Naive ideas and beliefs. Fears really. He was a big proponent and believer in astrology for example. A totally bullshit "science" that dictated whether he should travel by car or not that day. All these clowns believed in astrology and had their "charts" done. And as you can imagine, they were always eager to tell everyone what "elevated" house or planet they were born under. Bollocks.
In ISKCON there is a tradition to praise the big money collectors after Artik publically on the loudspeaker. Everyone yells "Jai!!!". In many of these cults, at least the ones I was in, including SIF, the big donators and money makers are the ones given the most praise and attention and considered "important". This is not an exaggeration, it's a fact. Why is one praised for such things but no one is praised for cleaning a toilet? Is there such duality in measuring of "service" and position that people have to vie for the ever-highest ideal? Why are the gopis dearer to krishna than say a blade of grass? Does god discriminate so much? Sounds like a human behavior. My point is that much ado is made of gopi bhava in the gaudiya siddha pranali cult of bhaktisiddhanta, yet no one ever asks why, ironically, the most appealing relation with god is based on sexual tension. Could it be that this is what fascinates the human mind the most due to biological and evolutionary impulses? Hence it makes for a cool focal talisman for believers. Who doesn't want their god to be a Playboy sexy womanizer?
Bhaktivedanta always favored those who were giving the most money and making converts. The list goes on. All modern krishna cults center around the ability to start new temples, create more converts and give off the vibe of opulence. Because, Bhagavan, you know...
Butler kept people close to him and posted them as being pure devotees or important if they gave money, promoted a political agenda that bolstered his ideology and were natural-born preachers. Tusta, Katyayani, Acharya das, Bhalakilya, Vishnu das etc. And many others were given much accolades mostly related to running successful businesses for butler or preaching. Anyone who tried to also preach or surpass them in any way do to natural talent or spiritual verve, was typically called out as "arrogant" and "trying to be guru" (only so many pure devotees allowed). There is only so much room for positions of power. So in a cult where everyone can supposedly be "guru", actually we prefer that there is less gurus and more followers.
Most devotees living in a temple/ashram/community are essentially freeloaders. They don't have any viable skills except moving their mouth to chant and repeating some crap they read in a book. No original thought and life skills. Without the community, they are no better than the schmuck on welfare praising jesus every minute.
The mechanism of authority in so-called spiritual matters is rarely subject to any scrutiny as the act alone of doubting/being skeptical or questioning such things is deemed offensive, arrogant and blasphemous. So most nod their heads in agreement. First, the idea of being a soul and karma and reincarnation sounds plausible and like a cool concept. Before you know it you're bowing to the guy who told you this and giving him money and praise. Then you wake up one day believing in elephant-headed gods, blue gods and hoping that when you die you will wake up in krishna loka as a cowherd girl...
I'm not judging belief. I am observing the mechanisms at work and the dynamics in these groups. Hare krshna as a religious movement is largely undergone a pop-cultural transformation and is a funny relic of the 60s. Much like Mormonism in terms of contemporary religious ideologies, it's generally harmless. I think the early days of cults are the hardest. Now the average hare krishna is a pot smoking vegan who goes to kirtan and does yoga asanas. But it's not a rigorous spiritual practice by any stretch. and thank goodness, cause you really have to be a lunatic to go fully down the rabbit hole of it all.
On his deathbed, Bhaktivedanta claimed he was poisoned. He was afraid of death and confused and no different than any number of other people who are dying. Don't believe me? Watch the video, it's online.
Bhaktisiddhanta's last words towards the end of his life warned of association with other groups besides his Gaudiya Math. He also claimed that "Bhagavan will not accept anything that is offered by a person who doesn't chant Harinam one-hundred thousand times daily (1 lakh of names)."... If that's the case I think we can comfortably say that no modern-day hare krishna devotee is performing real service. Or it's revealing of the level of fanatic religious idiocy of one man.
Now, don't get me wrong, the ideology espoused by these gurus was idealistic. They thought that their ideas would result in some mass conversion of humanity to a loving brotherhood of everyone doing the same thing. They obviously lacked any naturistic observation of history and nature, as anyone can see that this is simply not how anything came to be in the world, including India and its spiritual systems. Variety is the spice of life. Even in matters of spiritual exploration, one cannot simply do one thing forever and be satisfied. The very nature of the mind is that it fatigues with repetition.
One thing that is of interest to me as of late is the topic of transcendentalism. It was an american philosophical movement in the 1800 that was spawned in part by philosophical WESTERN research of the Upanishads. The 4 original vedas were largley unintelligabel and still are. Thier intent/goal/message remains a mystery even to India's greatest scholars.
What's interesting is that Bhaktisiddhnatas and his father's movements leaned heavily on the western transcendentalism that was no doubt making it's way to and fro from Inida ot the west. It allowed a lot of hocus Pocus and mumbo jumbo ideas to be quickly swept under the generic umbrella term "Transcendental", with little to no need to explain what made something "transcendental". We use terms like this all the time. Language in general has given man the ability to spread ideas quickly and often times these ideas become ritualized in language with no real explanation given after the fact.
Growing up in SIF we heard this term all the time. If something was hard to swallow or understand for us, it was "Transcendental". If it was supposedly really amazing and beneficial, it was "transcendental". Everything basically becomes transcendental. Can't understand what the guru is saying or doing? Well, it's transcendental!
Anyway, you can read about it more if you like, but it is amazing how assorted philosophical and spiritual movements can change the way we speak about otherwise ethereal and highly subjective topics like "spirituality", which is another one of those terms we bat around with zero agreed upon definition—especially in "spiritual" circles.
Cults rely HEAVILY on linguistic nuances like this. They adopt certain ways of speaking and assorted phrases and terms that often go well over everyone's head and have the effect of, "Well it must be true!", simply because we don't understand it. And since we are told we are so low, fallen and stupid, and don't know what is in our best interest, we simply must have faith that by doing XYZ, some amazing thing will happen. When it never does, we again look at ourselves as the fault, when in fact, sometimes, it is the process that sucks or is otherwise useless.
I'm not saying that something complex and beyond our understanding exists that may or may not be worthy of further exploration or interest. However, we often spend a lot of time on so-called spiritual journeys and emotions and visions without really stopping and asking what exactly the purpose is. At its best, fervent spirituality is an elitist luxury as it has always been of a certain class of people who society supports based on some naive idea that something good will come of it. We support "mystics", "healers" and anyone who is willing to tell us that there is more to the puzzle than meets the eye. Alas, no one has shown that this is the case. Millions of years later and we still know jack shit what happens after death and what is beyond this domain. Sounds like "god" is telling you "this is it guys!", and isn't it amazing as it is? We always want more and think there is some "other". But history and time has show the proof is in the pudding. And while society builds and creates all manner of faiths and idealisms, the truth is staring us right in the face: We are here to make what we want of this thing called life. No one is the wiser. I can guarantee it.
I've always said, it may be cool to think of oneself as a "spirit soul" in a body and it may even have its uses in terms of psychology or other mindfulness practices, but as a general rule it's irrational to live with that as a constantly acknowledged fact. It's actually impossible. Same goes for chanting many rounds or worshipping statues and reading fairy tales about gods and demons. It may have some therapeutic value to an extent. Yet, the fact remains that life goes on, we will die and no one really knows what happens next.
While unabashed materialism is rarely the answer to a lack of religious belief, I can assure you, abandoning spiritual pursuits in exchange for real-world experiences is immensely more rewarding, less stressful and realistic. I need not ponder if god is blue or pink or what my role in his "eternal" pastimes will be since that is something that is simply not knowable. Anyone who claims that they do know or have seen that is full of shit, no matter how you slice it. The senses are either imperfect and unable to conceive and realize the so-called transcendent aspect of reality or they are. If they are it is not transcendent. If it is not knowable to the human brain and senses, then we need to consider it any more than a fart in the wind. As the saying goes, if we are made in the image of god, then why are we not invisible?
So chant and be happy if that's your cup of tea, but do know that that is NOT AT ALL WHAT this cult is about. The chanting part is one small part. Then there is a host of other ideas, rituals and beliefs you must entertain to call yourself a real gaiudiya vaishnava, and my question to you is: Is it worth it? Do you really believe some god is going to pop out of a pillar to save your ass on a bad day? Let's get real...
Truthwins—700+ people have viewed the ISKCON Pedophilia ring post. At least 50% are hare krishnas in complete denial, making excuses for Bhaktivedanta and his appointed goon squad. The sad part is this is FAR from us hearing the end of it. A fanatical religious society like this will always find a way to justify, make excuses and never really change anything.
Just because Bhaktivedanta said a few smart things does not negate the overwhelming weight of the idiotic things he said, believed in, and promoted (milk with salt causes leprosy, one of my all-time favorites).
Bhaktisiddhnata and his father were self-righteous clowns writing volumes of books about literally nothing. Fluff. Empty-minded bullshit that is really hard to come by even in bad writing. And the sad part is that it's considered offensive to "edit" and "alter" any of their works to make them mildly intelligible, so, there they remain, as sentimental relics of a made-up 500-year-old religious offshoot that Vaishnavism as a whole is largely embarrassed to be associated with. Ever read Bhaktivedant's unedited" writing...?
In fact the gaudiya tradition as a whole has a bad habit of claiming "scholarly" personages, from Chaitanya to Bhaktisiddhanta, with literally zero proof of any scholarly works available for study. Bhaktisiddhanta's most ambitious writing reeks so hard of self-riotous arrogance that it's hard to read even a few pages without stiffening up in discomfort. Bhaktivinode had to forcefully submit his Chaitanya biography to western universities to even be included in their repertoire of hindu studies texts. Many, if not all scholarly works on chaitabnya vaishnavism paint the same general picture: A faction sect/cult of chanting and dancing arose much around the same time in Bengal as Islamic devotional chanting cults. Chaitanya is written about in a mythological writing style in the only few books available about his so-called life. Bold calims are made about his divinity and no single text even within these central cult scriptures really explicitly mentions the chanting of the hare krishna mantra. The popularity of said mantra was largely made in the 60s by Bhaktivedanta and his modern day revivalist gaudiya vaishnav cult. Moral of the story? There is literally nothing of scholarly import written about the renneissance saint known mostly within Bengal. No local government records, nothing of major substance to verify that it was anything more than a movement much of the same impact and depth as Mormonism. In fact, we know more real information about Joseph Smith and even christian "saints" of the era of chaitanya than we do about supposedly "god himself" appearing on earth some 525 years ago... I thought "bhagavan" means full of all ooppulances, including fame. Well, not many people really knew about the guy during his brief life. The two or three books written about him can't even quite agree how he died! His followers made it sound like they were keeping tabs on everything he did, yet somehow everyone's MIA when the great saint is dying?
No guru or society has the ability to actually tend to the care and welfare of its followers/disciples. It's impossible. In traditional ancient India, a guru/disciple relationship was NEVER institutionalized. A guru took on few if any disciples and spoke to very small groups of real seekers. Not some yahoo who is interested in yoga stretches and jumping around like a lunatic in Kirtans. There is no choice for such modern-day religious offshoots of vedic ideology to simply turn into just another church where you go on Sunday, pray and "wipe" your sins and then go back out into the "real world" of so-called maya and rinse and repeat.
Children (eventually adults) usually suffer the most and are the biggest risk of the ideologies of these groups and gurus since they never will question it all. That is another thing you will not find in ancient Indian spiritual traditions: Kids being sent off to schools halfway across the globe away from their parents. Gurukula was a Brahminical practice for those born into the priestly caste. Basically, the kids grew up in a social structure that had very vivid caste divisions and a child born into a brahmin caste was sent to such a school.
Prabhupadas' naive ideology of trying to adopt an archaic medieval varnashrama system in a Western mind/society was a brutal reflection of his shortsightedness as a religious leader. Any psychologist would have seen where that would lead eventually. Needless to say many modern Hare Krishnas are quick to rebuttal and state that "today's hare krishnas are normal members of society who don't do anything culty"... give me a fucking break. I can smell a hare krishna from a mile away with their little bead bag and pointer finger popping out. Three strands of wood beads around their neck and jaganatha bumper sticker. They're just better at hiding all the culty stuff and buttering it over as "yoga" and "mindfulness" and "Hinduism" and "Sanatana dharma", my ass.
You don't put a bunch of boys in a school together in mid-puberty and a bunch of unqualified teachers and formerly homosexual "sanyasi" gurus or ex-druggy hippies and expect a transcendental miracle to happen cause you know, the holy name and guru/scriptures will "do the rest" of the magic... That is called naive, shortsighted, and for lack of better words, dumb. It was Bhaktivednata's idea. His followers ate up his opinion and word without question and still do. They will never make a change or admit that the founder's ideas were not all they were cracked up to be. It's against the very foundation of their ideology to do so. All that will happen is the same thing that happens with all fundamentalist traditions: People break off and start their own variations and variants of it. Those then in turn suffer from their natural human failings and claim that it's because of XYZ, never the teachings, philosophy, or founders. That is always held as perfect. Yet, no one ever notices that the very scriptures and founders words support much of the inevitable issues that arise.