The fight between devotees of Iskcon and the Ramakrishna Mission
Iskcon vs Ramakrishna Mission!
There is a furor over an Iskcon preacher questioning the non vegetarian habits of Swami Vivekananda and Sri Ramakrishna's declaration of "There are many opinions, but they all are valid". Joto Mot Toto Path.
Iskcon is a Bhakti cult launched by Prabhupad. The Ramakrishna Mission follows the "Knowledge mixed with devotion" path. Gyana mishrita bhakti. The Monks of the Order follow Karma Yoga - the path of working without expecting any reward and devoting the fruits to the Lord.
Consequently the Mission is into the "Service to mankind is service to God" mode. As Sri Ramakrishna had practiced all religions and modes of worship and found that they all lead to self realization, the Mission respects all religions and paths. This peeves many sects.
The Mission is not worried about what Iskcon or Prabhupad thinks about the Order. It is a section of devotees that have taken umbrage. Iskcon has rightly censored the preacher. The matter is expected to die down.
I have nothing against Iskcon. I sometimes visit the local centre to enjoy the kirtan or purchase products and books. I see sincere devotees and that gladdens my heart.
It is being debated that Hinduism has been diluted to suit Western disciples. This is true. In its efforts to reach out to a greater audience and a new age, the knowledge part has been given more importance than the ritualistic part.
Hinduism is never static. Its core teachings mostly remain as it is, but practices and social norms change according to the age. It is a very dynamic religion.
The core is self realization and the deliverance from the cycle of birth and death. In Hinduism God is not far away. As the devotee progresses he or she realizes that in essence the individual itself is God. It is the ignorance of feeling that one is a body and mind trapped in a physical world that needs to be done away with.
So long as the desire of liberation exists in the heart, all else matters little. The call of the heart will be answered no matter in what condition the individual is in. When the child stops playing with the toys and calls, the mother comes rushing.
This is the core of spirituality.
India is the land of a thousand sects. There are bound to be war of words. It is normal. But those in the limelight should concentrate on the path and not be unnecessarily controversial. Personalities like Sri Ramakrishna come to iron out the differences. He has played a very important role in the evolution of religious and spiritual thought by universalizing the message. He never believed in exclusivity but was all embracing.
There can never be a - "this is it" in spirituality. There is no one path. We all are different shaped by numerous previous lives and experiences. It is only after trauma and adverse experiences that a few wake up. Even in them the urge to participate in the world is very strong. They too have to deal with baggage and also the thoughts that they have unfinished work. This propels people forward and makes them forget.
The various sects in Hinduism help people fit in where they belong; they are placed according to their ability and progress. The universal forces know who belongs where. This is why Hinduism has no conversion. Rather it looks down upon it.
Sri Ramakrishna often came across people who had converted. Describing one such encounter he narrated how he wanted to address the person but the Divine Mother forbade him and he was not able to speak. The person had converted for the sake of material gain.
The ordinary people are enmeshed in the world and feel it is all there is. India advocates weaning them away from the infatuation by restraining them from spiritually injuring acts at first. Through constant contemplation on the higher truths (Vedantic mahavakyas) the mind is strengthened. Then alone one can remain as a witness. When that happens the wheel loses its momentum. But it still rolls forward without power for some time. The knowledgeable witness their remaining experiences and are ultimately released. The individual then dies to be merged into the one consciousness that pervades everything.
Where do I put religion? Is it a scam or is it evolution? Suppose a spiritually realized person wanted others to follow the path. Suppose he was aware of past, present, and future; the visible and the invisible; the material and spiritual worlds. He had the long term vision that saw the ups and downs of life. He knew that humanity served a higher purpose and that souls were having an experience in order to evolve into the higher order.
Suppose he wanted to lessen the bother and tried to make the path easier. Suppose he knew that there is no one size fit all. Then he would draw up a plan whereby all could follow a common path of least harm on their journey towards the goal. He would educate the people in a manner that could fit into the broad vision of things knowing full well that this too would pass and that many would have to learn through falls and stumbles. Maybe this is how religion took shape? A mass form of spiritual practice that somehow kept even those not devoted to overt spirituality in its thoughts.
And who was that spiritual person? It was none other than Lord Shiva. It is he who spelt out the processes and procedures and also organized society. He is the father of religion and spirituality.
India has a peculiar religious structure. There is no Pope, no Papacy, no absolute rules and regulations. Yet the people follow a common path despite group and individual differences. This was noticed by both the Mughals and British who wondered how that was possible. But what was was right in front of their eyes.
It was as if people intrinsically knew what was right and what was wrong. How? If we delve into the oriental scriptures we find that geographical India is the ultimate hot spot for evolved souls. Even animals, birds, insects, and trees are enlightened beings. The current fall of values and the abandonment of the spiritual path was prophesied and repeatedly pointed out to people so they would hasten towards the ultimate goal - forgetting the world and merging with the supreme.
Religion therefore has been a loose structure that is eye opening keeping in view the overall scheme of things. There are mass practices, there are splinter groups, there are individual seekers, there also are the atheists or Charvaka’s – those who believe in the material alone and disregarded the spiritual destiny of man.
Religion is, and always will be, mass spirituality. Institutions can serve a purpose if their leaders are awake to this truth. Religion can and does exist without institutions as a thought pattern that is refined by those who travel the path. The seeker dips in here and there to pick up what suits him or her. This is exemplified by how religion survives and has survived in India. Realized souls have added their experience and refined the path.
Mankind is always progressing both individually and collectively. Sri Aurobindo has talked of the coming SuperMind. The Mother has said how the current population boom is actually lifting the thinking process higher and higher. We have progressed from a stage of obedience to an intellectual age. This shift of age is facilitated by Avataars. Lord Shiva had organized the scattered thought process of human beings and channeled it towards a constructive phase. This base was expanded by Lord Rama into an age where moral values were super most. Lord Krishna provided the ecstatic love stage - the Divine stage.
Sri Ramakrishna used to say, "There is no end to spirituality. There is just more and more." Swami Bhuteshanandaji had made a classic statement, "Spirituality begins when you realize God!" He was a man of God, a realized soul, he should know.
What lies beyond? Those of us who came in touch with MahaSambhuti Chakradhar have heard of huge changes that lie beyond. Religion will transform to spirituality in the most fulfilling manner possible. Religion mostly deals with the "Sthula" - the material. It points towards the Adhyatmik - the spiritual, urging populations to transcend the body and mind.
The Guru's are supposed to lead the Atman to the ParamAtman. But the Guru's have captured the people and kept them in their own abode. MahaSambhuti resented this and had predicted their fall. Everything will crumble - all of today's self appointed Gurus will feel the heat and will be rejected by the people.
MahaSambhuti will then fill that space with his direct touch. How that will come about is not yet my domain because I am still learning. But what I know is that in the coming age there will be no intermediaries. There will be teachers, yes. But most probably there will be no Guru's because there will be no need for them. A mental bridge will be available directly from the Atman to the ParamAtman. The system of education will change to bring about that transformation.
Souls are suffering today in this material age. The extreme mental dissatisfaction we witness everywhere and the chaotic physical state reflects that soul suffering. They are crying and thirsting for spiritual knowledge. Their thirst will be fulfilled by MahaSambhuti. I am ill equipped to say more. All I can say is that there will be a huge shift in thinking and the way society conducts itself. An entirely new Age will be established and the knowledge will again go out to the world from India.