Here is substance:https://www.academia.edu/38329691/Universalising_Inclusivism_and_Its_Limits_Bhaktivinod_and_the_Experiential_Turn
And here is the intolerant dictatorship of these groups masquerading as giving people the only best true spirituality:
I especially like how easily they lump Christians with atheists and so-called mayavadis, aka, Buddhists/advaitans. Who are, in their estimation, spreading so-called misconceptions. It's a difference of opinion when it gets too heated, and a misconception when it suits thuer narrative.
Does this rhetoric seem open, accepting and universal? Or more like my way or the highway?
You see the problem is in lack of transparency in what thier actual beliefs and core teachings are. On one hand it's all about chanting and dancing. But the subtext goes deeper and is ripe for abuse. This has been shown. It's not some potential problem. It's a byproduct.
To appeal to folks they dress it up as a benign happy religion. And for many who don't dive deep and take it too seriously, it can be for a while. Then you wake up one day and it's too late. You've gone too far into it all. Now you're a disciple, you are being asked to serve more, give more, chant more for some elusive result. When it feels like you're treading water you're told that you must be offensive, impure, lacking faith or any number of things you've done wrong. Before you know it you're talking to statues, believing in completely irrational myths and rituals and thinking you're fighting the good fight by preaching and trying to turn other people on to your "universal" religion. Who will you introduce people to when they ask initiation form a living guru? are you happy with the guru you chose? Or is your allegiance to Prabhupada and that is all you need? Most devotees will eventually fall into this category where they treat the Prabhupada character like Jesus: All we need is Prabhupada. So the "living" guru thing goes out the window for many. And they lie to themselves that the mantra has some power to "take them there" when even their own scripture and guru varga state plainly that the mantra has no power unless given by a bonafide guru and 200 other exceptions for why things may not work as initially advertised.
It's a sad joke, Whirlwind. You have no revelatory experience to share for ex-members who suffered in this group. Your contribution acts as a confusing distraction. People who come here seeking answers about why this group felt off to them are instead gonna read quotes and verses they are already familiar with rather than real points of view shared by real ex-members.
It's like going to a Mormon ex-member forum and reading verses from the Bible and leaders of the Mormon church. Do you honestly think you can't find a quote from book of Mormon or texts by Mormon leaders that is a pleasant soundbite? That's not the point.
Bhaktivinode was a religious fanatic reformer. Like Joseph Smith, he had visions and dreams and mythological sources of authority. Was he wise? Sure. Was he intelligent? Sure. But that has zero to do with the Cults that sprouted from his ideology. He may have had the best intentions. There may even be aspects of his teaching that were helpful. Hard to tell. I'm not sold. I'm not convinced. I see through it. I may be an atheist but I'm not opposed to sound arguments about theism. I just don't believe chanting some mantras does anything. I believe vedic morality and myth is 80% bullshit. The rest is a disjointed mess of "interesting".
The average hare Krishna in butler's group subscribes to the idea of being a soul and God being krishna and butler being God's man on earth. Sounds fine on the surface, then why does this forum have a million posts and more posts and followers than any other? Many too scared to come forward and speak the truth?
The fact is you and I now little to nothing about Bhaktivinode, saraswati and even prabhupada. We know they were a product of their time, started a revivalist Bengali cult and were riddled with controversy. ISKCON is a diluted version of what prabhupada wanted. But what prabhupada wanted fell into disrepair, within his lifetime and totally fell apart after he left. The struggling version of what it is, is at best a cultural footnote and mostly parody. Few thinking people take hare krishna sects seriously nor can they ever shake their culty origins and image in popular culture.
Butler needs no explanation in his abuses and effects on followers and reputation, but, he is a follower of bhaktivednata. Who himself said and subscribed to wacky ideas. Dangerous in many ways.
Bhaktisiddhanta was an inflexible preacher of gaudiya vaishnava philosophy. He attracted mostly men, was very critical of pretty much all other faiths as being false or maya if they did not recognize his Chaitanya incarnation not mentioned in any scripture and his ideology if Manjari bhav as the highest attainment, which asks us to believe in assorted highly sexed colorful myths and any number of random hindu gods. So no, not "universal" by a long shot.
Let's agree to disagree. Still don't know why you feel a draw to come here with no direct experience with butler's group. I'll take it as a compliment that I'm getting under the skin of a few devotees enough to agitate them into a preaching frenzies. God needs folks to look out for him and his cronies. Anyway, read the room, as they say.
At the end of the day it's your faith against my lack thereof. You're not wrong because it's what you truly believe to be real. As always the burden of proof lies with the one making extreme claims. I'm here stating facts, you're here quoting Bhaktivinodes propaganda literature sent to western universities. 150 years ago not a soul outside Bengal cared or knew the Maha Mantra. Prior to that, 500 years ago a religious upstart in Bengal settled in orissa and surrounded himself with a few followers. Followers claimed that he found a so-called brahma samhita and established that he was part of the "brahma madva sampradaya", to give his cult legitimacy in a culture that's big on gurus and sampradayas. Joseph Smith also discovered convenient books to establish his religion. If you read book of Mormon, its theologically and philosophically sound. So really, the rest is about trying to make it spread to the masses. What better way than to claim its, ancient, eternal, and universal? Reading bhaktivinodes discovery of Mayapur reads like some sort of mystic treasure hunt replete with dreams, visions, and all manner of exaggeration: [www.mayapur.com
Again, at a certain point in these cults you are asked to simply accept things at face value with little to no rational logic. Many of these movements have a very direct tie to the social/religious/political climates of the time they took shape. They are not some sort of isolated "revelation" that manifests in the vacuum of mystic experience. Yet they read as such and this is false and creates a fake narrative. At a certain point, questions must be asked and rational answers must be there. If you are told that you simply must believe the words of someone's guru as irrevocable fact or suffer fall down and suffer then you can comfortably accept that you are dealing with a nice hefty load of bullshit.
One may argue against atheism or agnostic approaches, but they are mostly based on honesty in approach. I am not suggesting a god cannot exist, but that god needs to step up and make themselves known and seen. Not in old books with funny stories or in the form of "representatives". This all reeks of some sort of game. Spiritual life and seeking truth should not be some endless game. Life is short. I will not spend time jabbering some mantra on beads or running around telling people that kirtan is some amazing spiritual path or has some power to "purify" me or other nonsense I cannot actively show them is real or has actual verifiable consistent results. And I will not ask people to worship a guru or give money to temples, centers and programs when I cannot in all honestly show them why it is in anyway of value to them.
What I can ask people to do that I know 100% has value is: Give blood. Donate your organs on your driver's license status. Give to charities that help kids with diseases that make them suffer (for no reason other than, according to your logic, god has some plan for them). See a therapist if you feel sad or depressed/anxious or feel that your life is in any way unmanageable. Psychiatry and psychotherapy is valuable and we understand way more about the mind and how ego forms than ever before and have practical ways to address and solve many mental problems. Exercise and stay healthy through a balanced diet, healthy friendships (play a sport with friends once a week, join a hobby group/reading club or some sort of community that makes you happy and explores your interests or teaches you something new). Learn an instrument and listen and play music you actually enjoy. Become a mentor or teacher to someone. Be helpful and mindful of what others are struggling with. Don't preach dogma/ideology/religious ideas to people because you think they need it. A child is born needing affection/help/love/care—not god and gurus.
Everything else is a subjective concern: Specific ideas about a god, some spiritual or inspirational teacher you jive with, myths you enjoy, religious functions or festivals that you grew up with or participate in. Rituals, hairstyles, clothing, etc should never figure into any authentic spiritual tradition or into a personal spiritual endeavor of any kind if they are to have universal appeal and attract people. Nor should any spiritual tradition dissuade people from seeking therapy, enjoying their mind and senses within ethical and moral social limits and rejecting irrational aspects of a religious system if it no longer serves a purpose or has been shown to be fruitless or damaging.
In my book it is damaging to adhere mindlessly to a spiritual path beyond rational consideration. The gita is a fine scripture full of wisdom but some fo it is trite, repetitive and circular. Other parts actually are flawed and scientifically incorrect. The metaphor of life as a battlefield is a useful one. Actually thinking that a war took place between sons of rain and sun gods and that everyone sat patiently on a battlefield while god rambled on about offering him a flower and leaf is foolish. The mind that accepts such stories as fact is an infantile and docile mind that has been disabled from critical thought and proper assessment of facts. This is a dangerous mind to have for the future of humanity. We see its danger manifest in the words of butler and his guru. The worst spiritual leaders are the ones who tout a message of so-called universal unity but actually stand for all manner of foolish thinking and piss-poor logic. They will use seemingly logical arguments on the surface and feel-good rhetoric only to capture you in a mental bind. There is little to no use in the concept of surrender to the guru, service to guru and support of their projects and temples and programs. First off, its totally sectarian and often amounts to nothing more than organized religion and the same ideology at work in any number of other flawed spiritual traditions. Christianity/Islam etc all ask for totalitarian adherence to their teachings and beliefs to "get the prize". They ask for money, time and energy to spread their teachings, support their programs and churches. They all reject the gods of other traditions or the core tenants and beliefs. At their core they espouse universally naive teachings like "love thy neighbor" and devotion to some deity. But they offer few practical ways to do that as the very religion asks that we reject all other religions and just theirs. Naively they hope everyone can unify under their banner. But as soon as someone squawks about the teachings and beliefs being ass-backward everyone gets up in arms and acts as if you attacked them personally. Bhaktivedanta and his predecessors all had in common their fighting spirit against anything that questioned their ideology. How is that any different than other faiths and fanatics? Because they claim to not be fanatics how are they not so by their actions?
We now have a generation of homophobic and anti-islam butler devotees who get squeamish around any other guru that pops in town. They have their gun-happy Tulsi Gabbard pretending like she knows the cost of war as she supports other gun-happy criminals and pretends racism doesn't exist while less than 50 years ago her great parama-guru had no problem saying "That is best, to keep them under control as slaves". But because she says "god is sitting in your heart and loves you! Aloha! Namaste!" we gobble it up as what? Truth? Absolute truth?
If Butler could espouse total BS, his guru too, we can only imagine the private opinions and real "mood" of Bhaktivinode and his son. Who apparently suffered from the same hallucination disorder or took the same drugs when they reported seeing a "bright light coming from a mansion across the river in Navadwip" when no one else in their company saw such a thing.
Religion is a powerful thing. Groupthink is a powerful thing. We see it all the time. and in places like India, it often reaches a pinnacle of fanaticism as thousands of people bath in the most filthy rivers in the world cause they firmly believe that it will "purify" them. WOW! Talk about holy shit. I've seen year after year little kids bow on the dirty floor in a temple to some fat guru for no more rational reason than their parents telling them it was going to purify and save them. They grow up like this. By the time I was 12 I was so homophobic that I wished all gay people to die of Aids like my Gurudev expressed would be best. By 23 I was so out of touch with reality that I thought the sun was pulled around by a chariot and any woman I married or had a relationship with was intellectually inferior to me simply by virtue of her body/birth. That was just the tip of the iceberg of the silly shit I held to be true. I went to kirtans where women stood in the back and men in the front. I chanted assorted Indian songs that I barely new the meaning to and pretended it was purifying my life. When crap happened it was my karma. If I felt stuck and like there was something odd or off about everything I was doing I blamed myself, chanted extra rounds, asked naive questions at lectures. Often my questions were the same questions asked by devotees who had been in the cult over 40 years. How was it possible they were in no better place than I was??? I chanted gayatri on my brahmin thread 3 times a day, did all the fancy rituals of pooja and knew all the proper mantras. Yet somehow I felt no more enlightened than I was before. I was versed int he philosophy, stories and rituals. I proudly hit the streets preaching, doing programs for the public to introduce them to this special blue god and his message of "love". I led kirtans, threw myself at my gurus feet. I gave money. at times large volumes. I collected money in the streets to support a guru and his wife to live a comfortable life while I lived in a tool shed, slept on the floor, took cold showers and woke at 4am since I was 10 years old.
In the end I lost all contact with my mother, other relatives, old friends from before I was a devotee and gained an irrational fear of society. I dealt with years of my fanatical mother belittling me, treating me as an outsider/karmi or unfortunate soul. The few times I made an effort to have a normal relationship with her she made my children bow down to pictures of guru's on the alter they never met, had no concept about and offer flowers to small statues they thought were toys (as any rational person would). My father in law confused the heck out of them as he told them they were "not their bodies" and actually spirit souls who were going to play with cowboy god krishna after they died if they chanted this or that mantra and learned to love the blue god. Grandparent brownie points for sure.
I suffered unnecessarily for years in this cult and others krishna groups. I filled my head with total garbage ideas, useless ideas. I wasted years of my life, had a very difficult time having relationships or even respecting and viewing women as simply human. I had to rewire my thinking and unfounded bias against gay people, other religions, and even everyday good people. All this nonsense upheaval in the name of devotion to a god I never saw and a guru I rarely saw.
My years in Gurukula were torture. I made the best of it. There is literally NOTHING of use that I took from this religion. Not a single thing was useful to my day-to-day life, growth as a person and character. It left me with a sense of detachment for the wrong things: Family, a colorful and often supportive world and a rejection of actually useful and helpful things the world had to offer. For years I rejected getting psychological help for the one naive reason that I arrogantly thought the therapist could not possibly understand the "special" religion I was raised in. Eventually, I met other people like me, with worse experiences. I also met many people damaged beyond repair and countless others who amounted to nothing more than fanatics that could no longer think rationally and often resorted to conspiracy theories and delusions of grandeur (that god chose them or they had seen or talked to god. or had visions that no one else could relate to).
Anyway, I have expressed this stuff ad nauseum at this point.
Have fun folks. Go for a mild jog at least, seriously.