Śikṣā outside ISKCON?

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PART TWO - Application in ISKCON

Part One describes the general principles of śīkṣā-guru-tattva accepted in Vaiṣṇava tradition. In Part Two, I shall describe how Śrīla Prabhupāda introduced this tradition to ISKCON, and how, after Prabhupāda’s disappearance, that tradition came under siege, sadly remaining so to this very day.

Prabhupāda first taught devotees respect for superiors and the value of transcendental knowledge. Later, he introduced the terminology of śīkṣā and explained its principles. As Prabhupāda’s Society reached India, interaction with other Vaiṣṇava groups led Prabhupāda to enumerate the guidelines restricting śīkṣā, as well as those encouraging it.

With minor exceptions, these guidelines protected the Society. After Śrīla Prabhupāda’s disappearance, however, ISKCON was beset with a battalion of Vaiṣṇavas from outside its boundaries, willing or wanting to advise and initiate its members. Some of these Vaiṣṇavas were wellmeaning, others not so. In any case, Prabhupāda’s warnings, when not heeded, turned to prophesy, and a unified ISKCON fractured.

My submission is this: The well-enunciated principles of guru-tattva left by Śrīla Prabhupāda and the ācāryas must not be compromised by attempts to be politically correct,(1) nor by the bullying of self-interested parties,(2) nor by our ignorance of Vaiṣṇava culture.(3)

Adhering to the eternal principles of guru-tattva preserves the integrity of Śrīla Prabhupāda and the Society. Such integrity calls upon the members of ISKCON to find spiritual guidance within its precincts. Should we not, a Pandora’s box of anomalies awaits us, a box we have already more than peeped into.


1I refer to ISKCON’s attempts to satisfy parties whose opinions on guru-tattva do not incorporate the version of either scripture or tradition, but are an emotional or circumstantial reaction to the Society’s woes.
2I refer to the exploitative attitude by some Vaiṣṇava societies (and their members), which invokes seniority of age, or exemption by transcendence, as a justification to transgress both śīkṣā tradition and Prabhupāda’s instructions.
3Śrīla Prabhupāda was ISKCON’s only link with pure Vaiṣṇava culture. He has, however, described that culture within his books. But if ISKCON’s members do not study them carefully, the Society will be successfully insulated from the assets of, as well as the threats to, its heritage.
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