Śikṣā outside ISKCON?

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PART THREE - Doubts and Answers

Part One of this paper comprises the tradition of śīkṣā-guru. Part Two recounts Śrīla Prabhupāda’s adapting that tradition to ISKCON, along with a brief history of its erosion after his departure. It concludes with a warning: “Do not take śīkṣā outside the Society.”

Critics will argue, “To make such an absolute declaration in a Society wherein faith is at an all-time low; a Society in which the principles of guru-tattva are tailored to relative speculations; a Society from which many members are fleeing, others dying of apathy; a Society that is obviously in trouble and in serious need of help — is absurd.” This line of doubt is shared by many devotees, especially since, outside ISKCON, learned, senior, and respectable Vaiṣṇavas seem more than willing to help the Society — provided they get free access to its members.

This Part Three represents the doubts of those who believe that ISKCON should not be insular to the death, and my responses, which hold firm that ISKCON’s leadership must rise to the occasion. They must do so without compromising either Prabhupāda’s desires or Vaiṣṇava tradition — which together conclude that Vaiṣṇavas outside cannot be accepted as instructors for ISKCON’s members. This conclusion, sad as I am to record it, is the reality. Vaiṣṇavas outside ISKCON do not and will not represent Śrīla Prabhupāda — what to speak of the Society’s dīkṣā or śīkṣā-gurus.


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