Devotional Life & Responsible Action: a Comment
Posted April 27, 2007
I appreciate that someone brought up this point of looking at the life of a person and questioning their 'divine' status. Recently, we've heard of the passing of many other Vaisnavas.
I just find it ironic that all of these people have had quite conflicted 'devotional' lives and yet we're so quick to claim their divine status after their passing. It is similar to the sentiment a friend of mine had when her cousin died. He regularly drank alcohol and consumed various drugs. He was not practicing Vaishnavism. And of course this guy had much better behavior than most of these leaders did. And now ISKCON and others are claiming divinity to some if not all of these individuals.
And how divine are these people to those whom they manipulated, coerced, forced to do things, used politics against, power over, and so on and so forth? How divine and pure are these actions? This is nothing but sentiment and high hopes. If some of these people can die and be prompted to 'pure devotion' I guess that just shows our collective insecurity - if we buy that claim. Because if all of the so-called senior devotees went back to Godhead, then certainly anyone and everyone else who can hang in there long enough will have the same end, since most of us won't be able to accomplish all the negative things some of them did. I think it just secures the ISKCON sannyasi gurus in their elite positions. The essential lesson here is this: just maintain (at least) your external guise; if you have problems, cover them up; as long as you can maintain an external look of being the good sannyasi/guru/gbc, then you're guaranteed a samadhi in Mayapur (or wherever you like) and everyone will be told you went back to Godhead. Congratulations.
Regarding the claim of dying in one of the dhamas, that is not such an easily purchased ticket. 'Dying in the dhama' means that your mind is in the dham. That means you can be anywhere in the world and die 'in the dhama'. What if a senior devotee spends his last seconds before a car crash yelling at the driver? Not really a KC state of mind to die in. But he still goes back to Godhead. Right?
Even in the most honest sense (as honesty is a Vaishnava quality) we do not know where these souls went after they died. Certainly we hope the best, but we have to be honest with the reality present of their actions. We are quick to label and judge the non-devotees for their actions and yet we overlook our own. What kind of standard is that? We do not know where these souls went and if we look at their lives, even the most recent part of their devotional lives, their actions are not such that warrant one for Krishna to come down, pat one on the head, and say, "Good job. You made it."
So I would humbly request the Vaishnavas (and especially ISKCON) to please think before you catapult people to divinity.
- a free thinker
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