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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.