Srila Prabhupada and ISKCON


Back To Prabhupada, Issue 40, Summer 2013, Quotes, Notes & News

A question which HH Hridayananda Dasa Goswami received, graphically illustrates just exactly how much Srila Prabhupada is not in the "centre" in today's ISKCON:

"I am very much attracted to this Krsna conscious philosophy, the lifestyle, and have never struggled with the four principles, but I have very little attraction to Prabhupada himself. Sometimes I think, if I had my choice, I would choose a different "branch" of bhakti yoga than ISKCON. But, because of my experience, I have such a fondness for ISKCON, despite what I see as its "faults." How do I rectify this? Do you have any recommendations for books, perhaps written by you or your Godbrothers and Godsisters, that have a bit more "heart" and a bit less "science"? I have read quite a few of Prabhupada's books, but am looking for some additional, perhaps "softer," material to study alongside them".

It is a damning indictment on the way ISKCON is run today that it is even possible for a person to have learned about Krsna consciousness through ISKCON, claim to accept its teachings and lifestyle, and be attracted to ISKCON, but at the same time have "very little attraction" for Srila Prabhupada. Such a result would be impossible if the organisation was dedicated to Srila Prabhupada. ISKCON is supposed to exist only as a vehicle to embody the mission and will of Srila Prabhupada. Thus, there should be no separation between ISKCON and Srila Prabhupada. One should either accept them both, or neither of them.

The questioner states that part of the reason there is very little attraction to Srila Prabhupada is because Srila Prabhupada's books are found to not contain enough "heart", but rather too much "science". And, therefore, there is a desire to read books by others which are "softer".

However, Srila Prabhupada teaches that we must not be guided by our emotions, which are ever-changing, but by our intelligence:

"Spiritual means philosophical, otherwise it is sentiment and sentiments are fickle and always changing. So we can very much appreciate your rejection of sentiment as a basis for practical activity."
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, 7/6/1972)

"No. No emotion. We don't... Just like Arjuna. By emotion he was thinking, "I shall not fight." That was emotion. So "I shall be bad man, taking to these orders" -- these are... Anything material, that is emotion, sentiment. Yes. So religion without philosophy is sentiment, and philosophy without religion is mental speculation. So therefore our this Krsna consciousness movement is so sound. We do not go by sentiment. We accept the superior order of Krsna (indistinct), it is perfect."
(Srila Prabhupada, Discussion with Syamasundara)

"Krishna Consciousness has great potency to deliver us to the highest platform of perfection, but only if it is understood by the intelligence. Something understood by the intelligence is fixed forever and cannot waver, and that is almost spiritual."
(Srila Prabhupada Letter, 8/7/1972)

A similar "criticism" has also been made of BTP. Following the "philosophical" approach which Srila Prabhupada states above, BTP stresses the need to be guided by facts rather than feelings, and evidence rather than emotions. But this approach is decried by HH Bhakti Vikasa Swami ("BVKS") as being overly "logical", who stated that though BTP "all appears very logical" there is "nothing which appeals to our heart" (BVKS, 9/2/2009). However, we prefer to follow Srila Prabhupada's directions to be guided by philosophy and intelligence, rather than sentiment and emotion.

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