An Open Letter to all Krishna Cult Members

By: gaurarader

It is time to grow up. It is one thing to believe ancient superstitions as many people in the world do. It is entirely another thing to destroy your own life and the life of those whom you love most, your children, based on ancient, and medieval superstitions. Simply put: There is absolutely no good reason to believe any of the metaphysical claims of the Bhagavad-gita, Srimad-Bhagavatam, Chaitanya Charitamrita, or any of the other “Vedic” literatures are true. Give me one good reason to believe Krishna consciousness is true, that is stronger than all the reasons not to believe it to be true, and I’ll take down this website and start chanting sixteen rounds a day. When I was in gurukula we had a teacher who sincerely believed Krishna consciousness was the greatest philosophy out there. He taught us some basic critical thinking and logic skills in hopes we would apply them to thinking about Krishna consciousness, become convinced of the truth of Krishna consciousness and dedicate our lives to ISKCON. Despite him really believing what he said, it was really pretty silly. All ISKCON devotees believe Krishna consciousness to be entirely logical and rational but I would pretty much be willing to bet my life on it there is hardly a single member of ISKCON that has actually studied philosophy, much less taught it systematically to the members of ISKCON. 1966 was fifty years ago, ISKCON has grown but we’ve failed to mature intellectually past the 60s.

 

It is seriously time that we admit to ourselves that we have given our lives for a lie. That there is no reason to believe any of it is true. Give me one and we can talk, although if you never read any Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Hume, Kant, Wittgenstein, or Quine, to name a few, how could you reasonably think your reasons have any value. Hey, I’ve been there. I dedicated my life to God on the flimsiest of intellectual grounds and didn’t look back for fifteen years or so. The philosophy I did read was after I wanted to become a devotee and that really doesn’t count for much. In my case I got a Philosophy for Dummies book, no joke, and decided that I was right in my choice to believe in God because the book introduced every major topic in philosophy and concluded theism is the way to go. The book was of course written by a Christian, so was far from objective. As absurd as that is it might be more than most Hare Krishnas did before they joined. Shouldn’t I have checked another book? Maybe one written by an atheist to get the opposing perspective? But here’s the thing, people don’t make moral and religious choices based on objective reasons. We do it based on feeling. We feel something is right. Then what we do is we look for evidence to confirm our belief. This is a problem. What we should actually be doing, especially if we are about to turn our entire life upside down, is look for evidence that might disconfirm our belief. That is the way science works, that is the way rational thinking works. Unfortunately, humans are usually not very rational.

But you know, all this talk of rationality and reasons is really beside the point, right? Because Gaudiya Vaishnavism, following other Vedic traditions, rejects reason entirely. The very first philosophical principle of Gaudiya Vaishnavism is that we must accept the Vedic literatures as the only source of true knowledge. So, is there any reason to accept the Vedic literatures as the only source of true knowledge? Again, give me one and I’ll take this website down and start chanting sixteen rounds. I promise if you study the history of ancient India to the present you will see Gaudiya Vaishnavism in an entirely new light. Fundamentalism is ahistorical. When you see the historical context it becomes hard to accept a scripture as divine revelation. Add to that false astronomical views about our universe (about to be proudly displayed in the TOVP), racism, sexism, and it becomes clear that while the Vedic Literatures are incredibly impressive they are clearly not divine. They are the product of thousands of years of philosophical and theological writing, layer upon layer accreting on top of the previous layers to produce works that are often incredibly beautiful, profound, and moving, but clearly nothing more.

So, if you’ve had doubts now is the time to explore them. Don’t be a part of the absurdity that others should be subjected to having the entire life destroyed by ISKCON. Don’t let you kids grow up believing utter absurdities that you believed at one point. And if you think I’m wrong prove it.

3 Comments

  • PREMA-KANTHA D.:

    try repetition of your speculative theories and or mindless meanderings regularly to the tune of 2 hours daily to see what is produced: then witness how much love & responsibility for our own actions is manifest. Is it possible to churn nectar from the ether and maintain a discipline without taste? The dogs may bark but the caravan will pass. love you a lot notwithstanding-Prema

    • Sebastian Cormier:

      I’d take speculative theories over unquestioning faith in old books on the basis of their boldness anyway.What you call mindless meandering I’ll call independent thought.He never said philosophical contemplation was his sole method of pursuing happiness.Theoretical philosophy should lead to applied philosophy and therein happiness is within reach.

  • Sebastian Cormier:

    There might be supporting evidence for some Gaudiya Vaishnava beliefs but not conclusive proof of the whole package.An example would be compelling cases of children’s past life memories supporting the notion of reincarnation.So there might be a baby or two in the bath water but we still need to throw out plenty of bath water.Philosophy allows us to pick and choose what we find of value in different philosopher’s teachings.Religion demands unquestioning agreement with a set of intellectual authorities.To be fair though I don’t think most devotees see their lifestyle as “turning their lives upsidedown.” Those who claim greater happiness from the practice are probably not lying.

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