Why Our Sangas Fall Short…

In ISKCON and many other modern attempts to implement Krishna bhakti, one of the biggest mistakes classically made is to focus primarily on anartha-nivṛtti rather than artha-pravṛtti – trying to annihilate “bad” things rather than on proliferating “good” things. This approach is doomed. Removing the bad (a) is too difficult, and (b) does not necessarily bring in anything good. But bringing in the good (a) is much more pleasant, and (b) automatically gets rid of the bad. This is why there is no need for any karma (religion), prayaścitta (pennance), etc for a bhakta – the bhakti itself is the most powerful purifier. 

This is a point Rūpa Goswāmī repeatedly makes explicit in Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu. It is also a main point Krishna makes several times, often with very strong language, in Bhagavad Gītā. Śrīla Prabhupāda himself, ISKCON’s founder, taught it as simply as possible by explaining that a child cannot be stopped from mischief, but if you give the child something non-mischievous to enjoy, he or she will easily and naturally stop their misbehavior. 

I don’t know why we couldn’t embrace this. Perhaps because we are more interested in criticism, and criticism goes with negativity and annihilation? Anyhow, for whatever reason, a hopeless tug of war with genitalia very often becomes more of a focus than Śrī Krishna nāma, rūpa, guṇa and līlā – and everything in that sanga becomes strange, negative, distasteful, perverted and sad. This can all change simply by paying far more attention to the beauty and wonder of Krishna’s name, form, qualities and pastimes, and not paying so much explicit attention to the very insignificant affairs of sticks and cavities.

Vraja Kishor


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  1. Hare Krishna Prabhu. Great point! Makes me wonder though, if you are guilty of the same crime – your negativity towards ISKCON!!


  2. I agree with Vraja Kishor in general. However, I also think it is not unhealthy to be well aware of our shortcomings. That is called realism. Hard to progress from an imaginary position. Coming to terms with our fallen condition should lend itself to chanting Hare Krishna with a real feeling of desperation and longing for mercy, which is required no matter how wonderful our sadhana is or isn’t. When the Lord grants us mercy, then we advance. Being knowledgable about our anarthas (let me count them all!) can make us understand how much we need to implore Krishna to help us. To cry out for mercy and solace. No doubt that our focus is on action, is on artha-pravrtti. That is positive action from our side in response to our existential position, but the other part of that response is to be realistic and informed as to our anarthas and our current pathetic position and then call out to the Lord for His help and mercy. To chant FEELINGLY in recognition of how much we need Him.


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