Śikṣā outside ISKCON?

<< Dobut 13 >>

PART THREE - Doubts and Answers
Doubt 13

Doubt 13: How can we depend on ISKCON’s gurus to properly represent Śrīla Prabhupāda when we see, for example, that they radically diverge from one another on basic principles of tattva?

Answer: In his instructions to Uddhava, Lord Kṛṣṇa explains that, under shelter of the internal potency, Vaiṣṇavas can come to different conclusions about the truth.(62) Such differences of perception disappear, however, and the very cause for argument is removed,(63) when devotees control their senses and fix their intelligence on Kṛṣṇa. Śrīla Prabhupāda gave the means to do this: serving in an institution unified under a GBC, and dynamically spreading Lord Caitanya’s mission worldwide — two factors that distinguish ISKCON from other Vaiṣṇava organisations.

Together, these two provide a unique shelter under which devotees can work in harmony, accepting one another’s differences(64) and ultimately resolving them. This is what Śrīla Prabhupāda called “unity in diversity,”(65) an ethos unknown to Vaiṣṇavas outside ISKCON. They accommodate individual diversity at the expense of unity, while completely missing the wonder of unity in diversity. Such Vaiṣṇavas, when diverging on points of philosophy (which they do), stand only on the strength of their individuality, failing to see answers that unify, seeing only answers that divide. They identify and criticise each other’s (and ISKCON’s) philosophical differences, further straining relationships already strained.

Yes, ISKCON’s gurus have differences of opinion among themselves; but they are united in the service of widely spreading Lord Caitanya’s mission under the direction of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s representative, the GBC. Through such allegiance and by Kṛṣṇa’s mercy, they will find the intelligence to resolve differences and achieve perfection as agents of His Divine Grace.


62“Lord Kṛṣṇa replied: Because all material elements are present everywhere, it is reasonable that different learned brāhmaṇas have analysed them in different ways. All such philosophers spoke under the shelter of My mystic potency, and thus they could say anything without contradicting the truth.” (Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 11.22.4) See also Jīva Gosvāmī’s commentary on the word mayam.
63See Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 11.22.6.
64Śrīla Prabhupāda says, “Now if you want to unite the whole world again under one banner, then this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is the only ...” (Conversation, Delhi, November 25, 1971)
65In the Bhāgavatam, Prabhupāda writes, “The Supreme Personality of Godhead, the living entities, the material energy, the spiritual energy and the entire creation are all individual substances. In the ultimate analysis, however, together they constitute the supreme one, the Personality of Godhead. Therefore those who are advanced in spiritual knowledge see unity in diversity.” (Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 6.8.32–33) And in a letter: “The materialist without being able to adjust the varieties and the disagreements makes everything zero. ... if we keep Kṛṣṇa in the center, then there will be agreement in varieties. This is called unity in diversity. ... if we fight on account of diversity, then it is simply the material platform.” (Letter, Bombay, October 18, 1973)
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