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Guide to opponents in Kali yuga

Contents

Introduction
Religion and Secularization
1. External opponents
1.1 Materialists/atheists
1.2 Christians
1.2.0 Christian heresies
1.2.1 Gnostics
1.2.2 Jehovah's Witnesses
1.2.3 Mormons
1.3 Muslims
1.4 Buddhists
1.5 Smartas
1.6 Shaivas and Shaktas
1.7 Mayavadis
1.8 New Agers
2. Internal opponents
2.1 Vaisnavas from other sampradayas
2.2 Other Gaudiyas
2.3 Gaudiya apasampradayas
2.4 Ex-devotees
2.5 Our mind influenced by asat sanga

Introduction

This is possibly the first online guide for Gaudiya Vaisnavas of this sort. Historically, Vedanta sutra in its second adhyaya includes an analysis and refutation of other Vedic and non-Vedic philosophies, establishing the supremacy of Vedanta philosophy. Gaudiya Vaisnava acarya Jiva Gosvami wrote his Sandarbhas and Baladeva Vidyabhusana his Govinda Bhasya to establish the superiority of Gaudiya Vedanta based on Srimad Bhagavatam as the topmost pramana. Later Bhaktivinoda Thakura and Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati defined and refuted various types of opponents to Gaudiya Vaishnavism and together with Srila Prabhupada they also briefly discussed various religions and philosophies from the point of view of Gaudiya Vedanta. To come closer to modern readers, this guide also includes some new (or rather rehashed and diluted old) ideas like those from New Age.

While ignorance can be removed by an argument, only the mercy of the Lord makes one a devotee. The goal shouldn't be to defeat our opponents (since this usually turns them away) but to present information bridging the gap between us and enabling them to listen. Using examples of Vedic civilization around the world as the source of other civilizations proved effective in this regard. We are actually much less different from other devotional monotheistic traditions (especially in their most original forms) than most think. The idea is to look for similarities rather than differences whenever possible. Then our positive presentation of Gaudiya Vaishnava siddhanta as objectively the most profound and widest picture of spiritual reality can follow.

Varied preaching approaches should be used according to time, place and audience. First we have to know who we are talking to, what are their views and attitudes. This guide should help to orient oneself among them. Feel free to comment so it can be gradually expanded.

If you look for ISKCON's position on relationship to other faiths, get the official document. It promotes mutual interfaith understanding so it seems contrary to this article. But this article is about "opponents", i.e. those who for some reason(s) come to challenge the Vedic Vaisnava dharma and should be replied.

Religion and Secularization

Our straightforward approach that bhakti should be an inherent part of one's life sounds quite unusual and even fanatical to modern Western ears and therefore it's useful to give a brief historical background.

Etymologically, the world 'religion' comes from Latin re-ligio, which is analogous to yoga and English 'yoke'. Since yoga is becoming increasingly popular, it's useful to point this out.

When the topic of religion (what to speak of God) comes up many people start to react strangely. The reasons are both its nature (nowadays considered private) and a bad experience often fueled by media. This is the result of secularization.

Secularization is a process to make a society secular (= mundane, materialistic, despiritualized), "free from clutches of religion", to remove God and spirituality from the public space. It is proceeding on many levels, from personal and family values to state laws. The result is called modernity with modernism, its philosophical umbrella of many -isms. "Modernity is the Enlightenment project, with its uncertainties of reason and progress; it is the detraditionalizing of the traditions which preceeded it." (Smith, David. Hinduism and Modernity. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2003. p. 7) The impact can be easily judged by its results - the sorry state of the world. An overview gives Ravindra Svarupa Das in his article Modern Historical Consciousness: Its Cause and Cure: part 1, part 2

While Srila Prabhupada equated 'religion' with dharma and yoga, in the West since Reformation (16th century) it is - due to the secularization - usually seen as a mere hobby or a private affair separated from daily life. (This is not true for Islam though and forgetting it leads to misunderstandings.)

On the other hand, the Vedic society and other ancient societies were spiritual. Spiritualism ultimately means sanatana-dharma (BG 1.39, BhP 4.2.31-32, 7.11.2, 7.11.5, 8.14.4, 10.4.39, 10.84.18, 11.17.8, 12.12.1).

Secularism vs. spiritualism - characteristics compared

Identity:

material (body)
nonmaterial (soul)

Existence:

temporary (from birth to death)
eternal

Evidence:

empirical (one's own opinion)
opinion of God and saints (scripture)

Authority, values:

an individual view (all equal), their sum supports manmade laws (democracy)
superior (God), His laws

Religion:

a choice, a hobby ('it shouldn't be taken too seriously')
a duty, a way of life

Root of problems:

outside
inside

Solution of problems:

change of the world (through revolution, force)
change of oneself (through spiritual practice)

Meaning of life:

material advancement; sense gratification - preya
liberation; spiritual love of God - sreya

Aspects of a degradation agenda

1. Antireligious and antiauthoritative

a. Every God-revealed monotheistic tradition sooner or later, after some degradation, 'encourages' its monistic (des)interpretation aimed at doing away with supposed ills by abolishing the source, personal God. Degradation occurs in a common 4-step pattern:

theism > its degradation > monism > atheism

examples:
Vaisnavism (devotional Hinduism) > monism (advaita)
devotional Buddhism > atheistic Buddhism
Catholicism > Protestantism > humanism/liberalism > atheism
Orthodox Judaism > liberal Judaism

b. Introducing heresies (see below)

c. Systematic undermining the traditional authority of religion, elders, law, etc. in media, etc. by creating religious/generation/race/gender conflicts, pointing out the inadequacy, historical issues and corruption of major religions, hinting that many problems would be solved by abolishing them.

examples:

- Communist anti-religious strategy

10.3.1 Religious situation

"The balance of two-year fight with the Church was unsatisfying. For no one. For ideologists, bureaucrats and State Police the Church still remained a great unknown. Although under the permanent influence of atheistic propaganda and fear for losing livelihood many people lost their faith and became even more indolent and churches were significantly emptied out, from an external look the Church remained a populous, well-organized and disciplined whole which lived an inconceivable inner life. Ideologists and functionaries knew from Lenin and propaganda brochures that religion cannot be overcome by brute force but by patient tutoring and persuasion. For tutoring and persuasion they were always disposed but they didn't abound in intelligence. Patience they never learned. They were successful - if we don't consider fear, which was the most influential factor - mainly with people whose faith was based on external displays of religious feeling.

"Efforts to cut the Church away from Rome proved as illusory. Devotion of a great number of Catholics, including priests, to Rome was a surprise to enemies of the Church. Czech Catholics since long time recovered from schism and massive breakaway at the beginning of 1920' and they solidified internally. Despite that the regime managed to deal the Church several hard-to-heal injuries, among which the robbery of Church property was the least. Church flourishes in poverty. Worse was the abolition of Greek Catholic Church, liquidation of monasteries, isolation of bishops, interference of the state power into the Church management. The most painful was that enemies managed to erode the unity of priesthood." (Vaclav Vasko, Unsilenced: A Chronicle of Catholic Church in Czechoslovakia after WWII [Czech original: Neumlcena - Kronika Katolicke cirkve v Ceskoslovensku po druhe svetove valce], Zvon, Prague 1990)

-modernists vs. the Roman Catholic Church

Dr. Josef Krlin in his work "Papezska politika" (Papal Policy), Praha 1946, says about modernists who tried to subvert the Church:
"... they were as bold as artful, and as treacherous as hypocritical. Certainly some of them had clear intention and they didn't recollect the scope of their delusion but the leaders were well aware of it, especially Loisy, Terrel, Murri, Buonaiutil, Schell, Erhard and Schitzler. Almost all of them fell from grace or were excommunicated. Loisy later admitted that already in his youth he ceased to believe... In 1893 he didn't accept literally any article of Credo, with exception that Jesus was crucified during the rule of Pontius Pilatus (p. 122). With this faith he was a professor at the Catholic University in Paris. - P. Tyrrel was a member of Jesuit order, a convert, and he also soon inwardly defected from Church but acted so artfully that even his superiors didn't suspect anything. - H. Schell was an university professor and an excellent preacher to academic youth. - They succeeded because they hid their delusion; their other studies were published in serious Catholic and theological magazines, side by side with articles of prominent and sound thinkers and theologians. Bewildering was also their enthusiasm with which they were showing off their love for Church and souls. When the least insinuation against them appeared they implored themselves by their loyalty. Pride which delusion used is cunning, tricky and hypocritical...
If we add that modernists wrote in a poetic style, they were young and enthusiastic that their writings were cited by inimical personages with praise, we understand that their thoughts had all possibilities to penetrate fast... (p. 123). - Delusion, in order to cheat, often donned a glib garb of reforms. Church is in decay, he argued, it is necessary to heal it. In the same way spoke many Middle Age heretics, like Waldenses and Albigenses, in the beginning of Modern Age it was heard from the mouth of Augustinian monk Luther, and recently also modernists hid their aberrance by the need of Church reforms. And in all cases the delusion acted in the same limpid and explicit way: it subverted the doctrine by which, perhaps inadvertently, it showed its real face and intentions. And let us notice the fruit of mentioned heretic movements - they are in all colors of the rainbow but lack the whiteness of sanctity..." (p. 127).

d. Pitting religions against each other, creating sects ('divide and rule' - 'united we stand, divided we fall')

e. Trying to establish a demoniac unified religion ruled by Maitreya (promoted by Benjamin Creme).

2. Promoting moral relativism

a. combined with technological growth it makes for a deadly mix (esp. in 3). However, the absolute standard is defined by dharma and para-dharma (bhakti).

b. influences human relationships by promotion of self- and individual gratification-centered attitude. (supports 4.)

c. creates 'might makes right' situation open to corruption and exploitation of non-privileged (weak, poor, etc.)

d. wars for political and economical reasons, not for dharma

3. Environment and health

a. misinterpretation of the Biblical verse, Gen 1:28 ('subdue the earth', i.e. stewardship), as the main factor of abusive relationship toward nature (environmental issues) and other living beings (exploitation), used as a political and economical control tool

b. the humanist idea of 'repairing the nature's mistakes', ignoring karma involved

c. promotion of expensive and harmful measures (like cancer cures, antibiotics, vaccination) while suppressing cheap and benign ones (natural medicine). A backlash is a growth of drug-resistant diseases.

d. promotion of flesh, junk food and genetically modified organisms (GMO)

The overall goal is a decrease of population size (Malthusianism).

Vandana Shiva on Farmer Suicides, the U.S.-India Nuclear Deal, Wal-Mart in India and More

4. Economy and politics

a. artificial economical growth through manipulation by media promoting 'it's good if it feels good, just do it' attitude esp. among youngsters. Yet senses are never gratified enough and so it leads to unrestrained sexuality, drug abuse, time killing, boredom and suicides. Such a population is hard to control and educate (varna-sankara).

b. in 1950' there was an abrupt downfall of salaries and wages causing profound changes in U.S. society. A father couldn't maintain his family himself anymore and a mother had to become employed as well. This caused various problems due to children becoming uncared for, etc. (see 1. c.)

c. bureaucratic control of economy, ever-increasing taxation, expanding difference between rich and poor, North and South, with few people and cartels controlling the world economy (monopolization) by monetary agenda (giving up golden standard and promoting cashless economy), inflation, etc.

d. loss of freedom through increasing state control through education, information access, jobs, licenses and fines, surveillance, food, water, etc.

5. Evolution theory (Darwin)

A material scientific support of the above points. When applied to social and political sphere (social Darwinism) it encourages a suppression of 'lower' races, nations, castes, diseased, handicapped, etc. It is behind 'overpopulation' issues and depopulation strategies like eugenics, abortion, euthanasia, drugs, diseases, forced planned parenthood (sterilization).

Main methods of propagation

a. lies, half-truths, deception, censorship, autocensorship by peer pressure (to avoid being labelled as politically incorrect; czech)

b. enticing by sense gratification, comfort and safety

c. create a problem and offer (sell) a solution (e.g. staged terror)

The threat of terrorism is used to spread fear and thus to allow tightening of control while maintaining the illusion of "freedom". Remember the old proverbial "frog in the boiling pot".

d. divide and rule: controlled opponents, controlled conflict (clandestinely controlling all antagonistic parties involved)

examples: wars (supporting both sides), political parties, mainstream media, political 'critics' like M. Moore

e. upholding West-centrism and evolution as a 'default paradigm'

f. Active undermining of dharma - social rules, family values, etc. by promoting minority rights (gay, gender, race, religious) at the cost of majority ('multiculturalism') in mainstream society through monopoly in education, media, etc. Dissenters with different views are ignored, ridiculed, shunned, censored and barred from publication and exposed to open or hidden threats (losing job, etc.) apparently masked by other issues.

Cases:
Francisco Gil-White
Francisco Gil-White
Virginia Steen-McIntyre
www.suppressedscience.net.zip (an already defunct website saved from archive.org)
Family Matters (seminar by Matsyavatara dasa ACBSP)

Steven Jacobson became convinced of this conspiracy theory of history after years working in the Hollywood film industry, where he witnessed the use of mind control techniques to condition an unsuspecting public. In the audio cassette Mind Control in America, he exposes the groups pushing for world government and documents their use of psychological warfare. Jacobson concludes:

"The public has been deluded about the material aims of a few and the very existence of the hidden rulers who sit at the very pinnacle of power and see themselves as lords of this planet... If the men in leadership positions in the world do not know the objective of life then they are not capable of administering a peaceful society? If however they do know, then what we see happening in the world is the deliberate attempt to undermine the primary objective of life. The missing dimension in world politics is the spiritual dimension. The problems of life cannot be solved by material means. Modern civilization is missing the point of life. Human life is meant for understanding spiritual values. Real knowledge is knowing yourself, what you are, what God is... When men are not governed by God they will be ruled by tyrants.

"The material world is just like a prison. The spirit soul is imprisoned in a material body, which is imprisoned in a material world. We do not belong in this material world. We are spirit souls and belong to the spiritual world... Our present culture would have us debase ourselves and become more and more entangled in materialism so that the path to the spiritual world is blocked. The demonic wish to make this planet a closed system where it cannot function for the purpose it was intended. The material world was created to give man the opportunity to purify himself of his material consciousness. For the aim of life is to go back home, back to God. The demonic cannot go back home until they rid themselves of their demonic mentality and so they wish to make it impossible for anyone else to return home. This is the ultimate goal of psychological warfare. To entangle man in materialism so that he cannot return home back to the Supreme Lord." (Unmasking the Grand Deception, Extracted fr om New Dawn No.36 (May-June, 1996) (c) 1996 by Life Science Fellowship)

Related:
TREASON: THE NEW WORLD ORDER, By Gurudas. Interviewed By Kenneth and Dee Burke
Zulu Shaman And Elder Credo Mutwa in conversation with Rick Martin
Rodiny, které ovládají svět
Zrudnosti v souboji paradgimat

Countering it by spreading awareness of:

- a necessity of a modesty (a satisfaction with minimum life necessities) and dharma (includes vegetarianism)

Limits of artificial economics based on dumbing down, advertisement, social pressure and a resulting rat race, wasting time meant for spiritual self-realization. "Simple living high thinking" = more health and time, less energy resources and money spent

- a necessity of a decrease of participation in secular systems

Local self-sufficiency is seen as a threat to their plans of mass dependency on centralized global control systems.

- lies, faults and faulty methods of secularism and its destructive goals and results

- connections and core bhakti unity of spiritual traditions, One Supreme God of all

- bhakti (mainly sankirtana, books, prasada)

----------------

A brief classification of major opponents follows. Find details on Wikipedia or any other encyclopedia.

1. External opponents

1.1 Materialists/atheists

Description:

Vedas compare atheists to owls who refuse to see the sun. They are not blind but choose not to see it. We should analyze the reasons for that choice by asking "Why don't you accept God?", "Who is your authority?" Atheism is only a symptom of a disease - an inner emptiness and rebellion against natural order and ultimately its Creator.

Someone said that today's atheists were fanatical theists in their previous life. They got nowhere in their spiritual life and carried their experience that 'spirituality is a fraud' into this life.

Types:

The notorious Vedic atheist was Carvaka. His ideas survived only due to writings of his rebutters like Madhvacarya.

default (by family upbringing and education), seeking or non-seeking
agnostic
defensive (reactive)
offensive (pro-active)
full-time demon (instinctively inimical to anything spiritual)

Dr. William Deadwyler (Ravindra Svarupa Dasa) wrote about a common misunderstanding:

"...sometimes critics of some established notion of divinity should be understood as not denying God or the divine as such but merely a particular, faulty conception of God. I agree. Socrates, for instance, was accused of atheism. But his 'atheism' was really a symptom of his higher realization of God. People sometimes mistakenly think even of themselves as atheists when at heart they are not. People have told me 'I don't believe in God', and when they explained to me what they meant by 'God', I could truthfully say to them 'Well, I don't believe in the same God you don't believe in.'

"Nietzsche, the great evangelist of the dead God, was not, in my understanding, a true atheist. For he once remarked, 'I should be able to believe in a God who could dance'. As a believer in Krishna, who is known as Nataraja, the great dancer, I see that Nietzsche's faith was unfulfilled and frustrated by the idea of divinity available to him. But unfulfilled faith is not atheism."

Text with source and more info on Nietzsche's Vedic inspiration

Some a priori reject anything suprasensory and supramental. This is an absolute stance impossible to defend. Therefore more intelligent ones incline to agnosticism considering higher reality unapproachable.

Arguments and replies:

According to acaryas like Ramanuja, one cannot prove the existence of God by logic. One can just disprove atheistic arguments. This is not very difficult for Vaishnavas but arguing usually leads to a stalemate since both parties won't budge from their own paradigms.

- "I don't see God"

So many things can't be perceived by you but they still exist. There are four defects of conditioned beings. Others may be able to perceive them.

- "I'm against blind belief in God"

One must undergo a process to learn about, contact, and recognize at meeting any particular person including Krishna.

- 'Problem of evil' (existence of suffering due to God not being both omnipotent and benevolent) and theodicy

If God is the Creator of all that exists, then He must be the origin of evil itself. This is where many religions either collapse or look for alternatives to explain the question of evil. But the Bible says clearly: "I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things." (Isaiah 45:7)

It is wrongly implied that this world is for us to enjoy. It can be better compared to a prison. Existence of prison suggests the existence of a government. Criminals end up in prison due to their acts (karma), not because of government. The evil is really just a misused free will. We have free will to be in God's company as passive observers, servants, friends, children and lovers - or not. Either we're absorbed in any of these five basic relationships (rasas) with God or we want to be independent. In that case we're put into a material world with its laws and have to fight for our survival and position with countless competitors who got the same idea of independence. Just like prisoners. Intelligence means to look for ways how to get out. This is the beginning of a spiritual path.

'Problem of evil' is a prominent weapon of atheists. It was used e.g. by Dr. Stephen Law from Oxford as his main argument in a debate with Sivarama Swami:

Existence of God debate - Dr. Stephen Law vs. Sivarama Swami

Mock debate on existence of God: Bhuta-bhavana P. playing an atheist vs. Sivarama Swami

- "Everyone is an atheist since by believing in one god, one rejects all other gods" (the idea of competitor gods)

Another favorite argument of atheists. However, the same hierarchy of devas (Svarga) all the way up to the Lord is worshiped in different forms and different ways under different names around the world: Connections

- "Think for yourself, don't borrow knowledge from others"

Jahnudvip das: 'Atheists always tell us we can't think for ourselves, that we just repeat what's in an old book. So then we just point out that they display absolutely no ability of independent thought. They simply repeat what they have heard from other atheists, or what they have learned in school or from their parents. In fact, we can safely tell an atheist that he hasn't got even one single original thought in his head. Everything in his head he has learned from others. I have often challenged atheists like that - I dare you, show me even one original thought you have had, that nobody thought of before you. They can't. That really shuts them up.'

- "I'm sceptical about God's existence"

Did you try being sceptical about your scepticism? A real atheist is not as sceptical, as he claims. His scepticism is very selective.

Second Nyaya argument shows the logical necessity of someone on top:

a. there are many beings in this world
b. they are on different levels (from the point of view of 6 bhagas)
c. the supreme one may be called God, #1 or whatever

It doesn't say much about the nature of that supreme being but opens the way to accept more knowledge.

- "I reject the jealous angry God of Old Testament and the eternal damnation"

Since God is absolute, He is the origin of both positive and negative emotions and moods, usually called peaceful (Sanskrit: santa, Harvard-Kyoto zAnta) and wrathful (ugra). God in OT acts in His leonine ugra rupa of Yahu-Tzabaoth, in other traditions known as Aryeh, Helios Chronos, Amen-Ra, Apademak, Zervan, Narasimha, Narushima, Za, etc. We know that in this form He reacts strongly even to minor sevaparadhas committed by His worshipers, what to speak of opponents whom He devastates in a flash of time. His most ugra rupa is kala rupa which kills anyone and everyone with no exception. (BG 10.30, 11.32)

The idea of Lord's ugra rupa being demoniac demiurge called Rex Mundi, 'king of (this) world', originates with Gnostics (see below) who worship God Amour, 'Love', analogical to impersonal omnipresent Brahman. From them it spread to various esoteric groups like Freemasonry and ultimately to atheism where 'jealous angry God' is openly rejected.

Many people can't accept the eternal damnation doctrine... because it's a misinterpretation. The related Greek words for 'eternal' are 'aion' and 'aionios'. See under 4.2

Another line of arguments against atheism is to present its inherent destructive fruits. (BG 16.9) Since there is no acceptance of dharma and karma, the results of atheistic actions are always worse and worse. And their solutions are just a patchwork with the same result (being a part of a problem and of its solution and of a resulting problem, etc.). It has no power to elevate society, it can just speed up its destruction. Entropy at work. Examples are modern politics, laws, technology, medicine, you name it.

Atheists will immediately bring up horrors of religion like Inquisition or Taliban but these are just products of a lack of true religion. So "religious violence" is just a violence under the cloak of religion. Violence can accept any cloak for its own justification.

We can present examples of famous religious rules which greatly uplifted humanity and are remembered as 'golden eras' but there are no examples of such famous atheistic regimes. There are only notorious ones, worse ones and the worst ones.

Related:
Atheism
Domestic Tranquility by F. Carolyn Graglia (abridged)
The Dawkins Delusion
Dawkins contradicts himself

1.2 Christians

Description:

Devotional monotheism - One God in three forms as Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Trinity). Son's sacrifice enables eternal blissful life.

Types:

Main groups are Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox, with together about one billion followers.

Catholicism (with its more than 20 rites aside the Roman Catholic one) and Eastern Orthodoxy, aside from their problematical history, have the best preserved theology culminating with the message of bhakti, even though to a somehow vaguely defined God. Still, the official denial of karma and reincarnation is a serious philosophical weak point. (One could say that this is similar to Buddhism where Sakyamuni Buddha didn't want to speak about jiva and isvara since they were unnecessary to his eightfold path. Similarly, one can become a bhakta even without bothering about karma and reincarnation, especially if he is not too inquisitive...)

They accept sastra, but just their own. Catholics accept also tradition. Orthodox stress japa meditation and consider icons 'windows to the spiritual world'. Protestants are the most active missionaries, esp. in third world countries like India. Often they use deceptive tactics. Lots of their claims regarding Old Testament and Judaism are false. See e.g. materials from Jews for Judaism.

Related:
ORISSA in the CROSSFIRE-Kandhamal Burning by Brannon Parker
Sita Ram Goel - History Of Hindu-Christian Encounters AD 304 To 1996

Premendra Priyadarshi - A Brief History of Struggle of Knowledge with the Semitic Religions and its Ultimate Survival

Arguments and replies:

When the doctrines and practices of Gaudiya Vaishnavism and Catholicism are compared to those of Protestantism, the Vaishnava and Catholic have more in common than the Catholic and Protestant.

evidences: guru, sastra and sadhu/Magisterium, Scripture and saints/Scripture alone; Septuagint etc. rejected

vowed guru-disciple relationships/same in religious orders/considered evil

veneration of gurus and saints/veneration of masters and saints/saint veneration considered evil

asceticism desirable/asceticism desirable/asceticism viewed as vain works

worship of murtis/worship of icons/considered evil

rityas & prasada/rites and Eucharist/ritual and Real Presence evil

mantra meditation on beads/recitation of the rosary/considered vain repetition

purgation after 'death'/purgatory after 'death'/heaven or hell, period

Krsna, Baladeva Sankarshana and Paramatma/Holy Trinity/Holy Trinity

liberation through: Baladeva Sankarshana/Jesus/Jesus

worship of Radha-Shakti/hyperdulia of Rhoda-Shekinah (Mary)/veneration of Mary considered evil

conjugal rasa the highest/bridal mysticism the highest/bridal mysticism suppressed

Related:
Connections/Christianity

1.2.0 Christian heresies

Heresies are a special type of ideologies. They are half-truths referring to the same sources like genuine traditions but distorting them in a way which suits their authors (from Gr. hairein - to choose, i.e. what one likes). Adjusting oneself to the doctrine is the proper process while adjusting doctrine to oneself is heresy.

One of the main distinguishing features between theistic traditions and their heresies is the final situation of the living being (prayojana) - either in transcendent kingdom, paradise, or in earthly utopist paradise. This feature is also common to heresies-derived modern secular ideologies up to various socialisms. They all expect perfectioning a man into a "superman" and rejection of personal God.

Here are few examples how Egyptian early Christian monks called Desert Fathers dealt with heretics (The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (Apophthegmata Patrum), translated Sister Benedicta Ward SLG revised edition 1984, ISBN 0-264-66350-0)

Agathon

5. It was said concerning Abba Agathon that some monks came to find him having heard tell of his great discernment. Wanting to see if he would lose his temper they said to him, 'Aren't you that Agathon who is said to be a fornicator and a proud man?' 'Yes, it is very true,' he answered. They resumed, 'Aren't you that Agathon who is always talking nonsense?' 'I am.' Again they said, 'Aren't you Agathon the heretic?' But at that he replied 'I am not a heretic.' So they asked him, 'Tell us why you accepted everything we cast you, but repudiated this last insult.' He replied 'The first accusations I take to myself, for that is good for my soul. But heresy is separation from God. Now I have no wish to be separated from God.' At this saying they were astonished at his discernment and returned, edified.

Theodore of Pherme

4. He also said, 'If you are friendly with someone who happens to fall into the temptation of fornication, offer him your hand, if you can, and deliver him from it. But if he falls into heresy and you cannot persuade him to turn from it, separate yourself quickly from him, in case, if you delay, you too may be dragged down with him into the pit.

Matoes

11. A brother questioned Abba Matoes saying, 'Give me a word.' He said to him, 'Go, and pray God to put compunction in your heart, and give you humility; be aware of your faults; do not judge others but put yourself below everyone; do not be friendly with a boy nor with an heretical friend; put freedom of speech far from you; control your tongue and your belly; drink only a small quantity of wine, and if someone speaks about some topic, do not argue with him but if he is right, say, "Yes"; if he is wrong, say, "You know what are you saying," and do not argue with him about what he has said. That is humility.

Related:
selection

Main heresies

1.2.1 Gnostics

Description:

Various sects proliferating in the Near East around the beginning of the Christian era, some with Christian tinge.

Arguments and replies:

There is a transcendent God and an evil demiurge, creator of this material world called Rex Mundi, 'king of (this) world' (in function analogous to Brahma). Spirit is good, matter is evil and liberation is achieved through special knowledge (gnosis, jnana). Gnostics worship God Amour, 'Love', analogical to impersonal omnipresent Brahman. Their stress on dualism (good vs. evil) was most probably taken from Zoroastrism (Mazdayasna). Zoroaster dissociated himself from the Vedic tradition and reinterpreted it by 180 degrees (changing sura for asura/ahura etc.). Overview gives Subhash Kak in his article The Indian Religion In Ancient Iran And Zarathushtra and more details are e.g. in Suhotra Swami's book Dimensions of Good and Evil, ch. 16 - The Vedic Root of the Western Religious Tradition.

Gnosticism could be at least partially influenced by Buddhism which was spreading at that time in Near East. The name of Buddha is mentioned for the first time in the writings of Clement of Alexandria (2nd century). The Eastern influence is prominent: Although Gnosticism supported ahimsa, vegetarianism, reincarnation, etc. (which makes it attractive to Vaisnavas), at the same time it was monistic, opposing monotheism. An extensive Western anti-monotheistic (i.e. mainly anti-Christian/anti-Catholic) agenda carried by groups like Rosicrucians, Theosophists, various pseudochristian, esoteric and occult groups up to recent exponents of New Age like Edgar Cayce, Lobsang Rampa or Dan Brown ("Da Vinci Code", etc.) can be traced.

Relationship of Gnosticism to a devotional Christianity (like Catholicism) is like that of advaita to devotional Vedic traditions (like Vaishnavism). The Roman Catholic Church, as the strongest Catholic force, was constantly battling whichever form the Gnosticism took (Cathars, Templars, Freemasons, etc.) but couldn't eradicate it and in the process also destroyed countless innocent lives (e.g. 'witches'). This continues to be an ammunition for its opponents. The schism of Christianity lead to an appearance of nondevotional Protestantism, a theological and practical dilution.

1.2.2 Jehovah's Witnesses

Description:

Ultraprotestants with eschatological focus. They manipulate Bible to suit their views (New World Translation) and reject Christian Trinity (one God in three forms). Thus they are not accepted by other Christians although they consider themselves the only Christians... To be saved they have to preach for a certain time every week, distributing their magazines and tracts (Watchtower and Awake) which they had to buy. They also have to contribute 10% of salary (so-called tithe, more here) to their group. They use fact-sheets similar to these Christian ones - 1 and 2 (not very up-to-date as you can see, some even openly lie about us) that tell them what to say when meeting different people including people from other traditions. When they see some openness and common points with their doctrine (esp. the non-divine status of Jesus), they will proceed with the contact, offering Bible study, which is in fact the study of its interpretation found in their magazines. It's useless to argue with them since they have a hearing problem, thinking theirs is "the only way" (this attitude is seen among other Abrahamic people as well, esp. Jews and Muslims) so everyone else is mislead and will burn in hell. Obviously they don't reveal it up-front though. Their way of talking is a monologue of prefabricated "thruths".

Arguments and replies:
JW main claims vs. the Bible
JWs (this website is only at archive.org since the Watchtower Org. succeded to close the site down, just as others which exposed their changing doctrine)
JW facts

As far as devotee's interaction with JWs see these two links:

Jehovah’s Witness converted to Hare Krishna
The Jehovah’s Witnesses made two devotees
Jehovah’s Witness woman converts to Krishna while giving birth

Although I don't know any devotees becoming JWs, I personally know one American devotee who grew up in JW family. Years after his conversion and moving away from U.S. they still kept sending him their magazines. :)

Z me vymeny na verejnem foru:
Ja (pod nickem "jehovisti = soucast pripravy NWO"): Jehovisti jdou cilene po starych lidech s majetkem. Vim to jak od sve zname, jejiz babicku takto zmanipulovali, aby jim odkazala dum, tak ze sve zkusenosti, kdy za jednou moji pribuznou, majitelkou domu, take dochazela nejaka vytrvala jehovistka. Pribuznou jsem upozornil na jejich manipulativni taktiku, dusledky podlehnuti a hlavni body jejich nebiblicke pseudonauky zalozene zednarem Russellem, ktera se kazdych par let meni podle rozhodnuti brooklynskeho centralniho mozku jehovistu. S tou jehovistkou se rozloucila.
Za starymi lidmi dochazeji i do nemocnic. Jednou jsem prisel navstivit babicku do LDN Motol, a na stolku ji lezela Strazna vez.
Stranka ex-jehovistu o zivote po jehovismu: www.straznavez.cz
Doporucuji knihu byvaleho clena vedeni Raymonda Franze "Krize svedomi" (Crisis Of Conscience) o pozadi tohoto kultu (cesky napr. na ulozto),
ktera mnohym jehovistum otevrela oci. Anglicky clanek o knize.

Jehovista: Jsi trapný anonyme, SJ a nenavštěvují lidi v nemocnicích a LDN proto, aby od nich získali majetek. Za lidmi chodí proto, že na několik vlastní rodina kolikrát kašle a proto, že projevovat lásku a navštěvovat nemocné je projev křesťanské lásky. Neznám ze svého okolí případ, kdyby někdo dal majetek organizaci na úkor svých dětí. V našem sboru zemřelo za 20 let kolem 20 lidí a ve všech případech, byli dědicové děti či příbuzní.
Těmi sprostými pomluvami, si dláždíš cestu do tzv. pekla.

Ja: Pokud vim, jehovisti nejsou zadnymi tradicnimi krestanskymi cirkvemi uznavani jako krestani (pripadne dolozte, ktere je uznavaji) a mnozi priznali, ze lasku poznali az po odchodu do krestanskych cirkvi. Ctete diskusi na straznavez.cz (ha, vy vlastne nesmite... ale ta moznost tu je).
Vas sbor neni cela organizace.
Mnou uvadene pripady jsou skutecne. Babicku jsme navstevovali, nebyla opustena. Ovsem nemohla se ve svem nemohoucim stavu branit, aby ji tam nekdo nezanechal tu sektarskou tiskovinu. To je nechutne, i kdyz si jehovisti muzou myslet, jak to neni zasluzne.
'Tzv. peklo', to me fakt pobavilo. Nejsou to nahodou zrovna jehovisti, kdo maji s peklem problem? Kazde misto, kde se ocitnu po smrti a kde oni nebudou, budu povazovat za dobre.

Me setkani s jehovisty pred par lety: Jdu po ulici a stoji tam dva typicky jehovisti, starsi a mladsi. Starsi se pta: Myslite si, ze je svet v neporadku? Cim to podle vas je?
Ja: Duvodu je vic, jednim z nich jsou falesni proroci, vlci v rouse berancim (Mt 7:15). Nejste nahodou SJ?
On, s protazenym ksichtem: Slysel jste o svedcich?
Ja: Bohuzel. A sel jsem dal.
Doporucuji vsem odpovidat timto zpusobem a nezdrzovat se s nimi, pokud neznate dobre Bibli. Jako ostatni sekty typicky vytrhavaji z kontextu a prekrucuji vyznam textu. Vydali 'svoji' Bibli (New World Translation), kterou bibliste neberou vazne. Neumeji vsak hebrejsky, recky ani latinsky, takze ucenec je snadno odhali (viz zkusenost kardinala Vlka.)

1.2.3 Mormons

Description:

A large Jewish-Masonic styled group based in Utah with a complex hierarchy of initiations and secret symbolism akin to Freemasonry. They promote tritheism (Trinity as three separate Gods). New members are supposed to spend two years as missionaries abroad. They stress dharmic family life but at the same time run many slaughterhouses. Currently they have good relationships with devotees in Utah.

Arguments and replies:

The central teaching is based on purusa abhimana, a desire to be gods (Genesis 3:5).

Mormon main claims vs. the Bible
The Mormons and the Jehovah's Witnesses are the Same Organization

1.3 Muslims

Description:

Strict monotheists - God has no associates (this could apply only to Paramatma, not to Krsna - see Adi Purana quoted in Laghu Bhagavatamrta 2.6 and Caitanya Caritamrta 2.11.28). Allah is the main name of God. Muhammad is His prophet, last in the line of Biblical prophets (Jesus included among them).
Jews and Christians are called the People of the Book (Bible) and sometimes (not always) given a special treatment. They are compared to animals in hadiths (Sahih Bukhari volume 008 book 077 hadith number 597).
Hindus are seen as idolaters to be killed and punished, and other religions than Islam eliminated (e.g. Qur'an 2.193, 3.85, 8.36-40, 9.5,12,29,33,36,113, 21.51-70, 33.73, 34.22-23,41, 36.74-75, 37.22-23, 48.6,28, 61.9, 98.6). However, this doesn't apply to sanatana dharma, the eternal surrender to God.

Types:

Despite outward unified presentation, there are several schools, from hardcore Wahhabists who consider other schools heretic, to monistic mystics like Sufis. Two main groups are Sunnis and Shias (mainly in Iraq) differing mainly regarding the genuine lineage continuation. Ahmadiyyas (heretics found mainly in Pakistan) try to present Krishna as a Muslim prophet using fabricated scriptures and Gnostic like teachings. Druze (in Northern Israel and Lebanon) accept reincarnation and many other Vedic teachings and are close to Vaishnavas.

Druze Sheikhs at Home in India
Jethro, The Druze And Vedic Origins

Arguments and replies:

Many Muslim preachers don't care about arguments of opponents. Most Muslims don't know Qur'an well, although they may read it regularly. They mostly depend on its explanation by imams. Some can coexist with other spiritual traditions. Only the minority of Muslims are radicals but they tend to influence others. Sura 9 of Qur'an supports them.

Muslim mindset and premise is that the whole world belongs to them, e.g. Shaykh Safwat Hegazy: "Jerusalem Belongs to Us, and the Whole World Belongs to Us", so they consider any oppposition an attack on Islam and their duty to "defend" it. This is the recipe for a world-wide war.

In post-WWII Western powers made a major mess in Near East etc. due to their power-hungry agendas. Some say this is the reason for the recent radicalization of Muslims as "they're desperately defending themselves". This is not the full picture. Islam was expansive from its beginning, at least from its Medina era, violently conquering other tribes, religions and countries, until it got stopped in Europe by Christian powers. When Muslims have no external enemy, they fight among themselves (eg. the age-old Sunni-Shia conflict). So there's no such thing as "peace due to Islam" anywhere.

- "Islam is a religion of peace"

For PR purposes they quote the Meccan (earlier and peaceful) sections of Qur'an, but tend to follow the Medinan (later and warlike) sections. See overview. When cornered, they tend to ascribe every bad thing to local customs and not to islam.

Religious strifes in India were ignited by British for political purposes. Since this 'divide and rule' tactic works well, it is still promoted worldwide.

The current "imigration" wave is the result of EUROMED strategy by EU initiated in 2008 (or 1995) to integrate Mediterranean states. Obviously it cannot work, since even the current south European states can't cope economically with the rest of Europe and they at least have a Christian background. Forced integration of a mass of Muslims into Europe will most probably lead to a violent backlash.

- "Islam is the supreme religion, everyone who isn't a Muslim goes to hell"

Qur'an says that Islam is meant for people without spiritual affiliation from Mecca and neighborhood.

Sahih International edition:

6.92 And this is a Book which We have sent down, blessed and confirming what was before it, that you may warn the Mother of Cities and those around it. Those who believe in the Hereafter believe in it, and they are maintaining their prayers.

42.7 And thus We have revealed to you an Arabic Qur'an that you may warn the Mother of Cities [Makkah] and those around it and warn of the Day of Assembly, about which there is no doubt. A party will be in Paradise and a party in the Blaze.

32.3 Or do they say, "He invented it"? Rather, it is the truth from your Lord, [O Muhammad], that you may warn a people to whom no warner has come before you [so] perhaps they will be guided.

36.6 That you may warn a people whose forefathers were not warned, so they are unaware.

Qur'an is meant for those who speak Arabic:

41.3 A Book whose communications have been spelled out distinctly and made clear, and whose verses are in ordered sequence, a Qur’an in Arabic for a people who have knowledge.

38.87 This (Qur’an) is only a Reminder (with guidance and admonishment) for all conscious beings. [This ayat is sometimes pointed out as a proof that Islam is meant for everyone. However, all conscious beings don't speak Arabic nor have knowledge as per the previous ayat.]

Related:
Muslim Statistics
Konstantinova debata s muslimy a zidy (861 n.l.)
debata s muslimem na YT
Criticism of islam
Lying (Taqiyya and Kitman) to non-muslims
Misinterpreted Quranic Verses (see the hub page Islam and Propaganda)
more on Islam vs. others
The Origins of the Koran (from Ibn Warraq's book)
Ibn Warraq - Why I am not a Muslim / Proc nejsem-muslim (ch. 3 The Problem of Sources / kap. 3 Problem zdroju)
Korán - autenticita textu
Kritika islámu
Korán o islámu (text Koránu, struktura, kategorie veršů, historický kontext a výklad)
The Origins of the Koran
Genocide in Kosovo - Skenderbeg Division (Carl Kosta Savich, on one of two Muslim SS divisions during WWII)
Islamizace Evropy? Kostely a synagogy se mění mešity, ukazuje analýza
Wives of German Salafists Pursue Road to 'Paradise'
V Bangladesi byl brutalne zabit hinduisticky knez. Vrazdili islamiste?
Understanding Halal Certification Schemes (s ceskymi titulky)
Kirsten Heisig, "Das Ende der Geduld: Konsequent gegen jugendliche Gewalttäter" Verlag Herder 2010, ISBN: 3451302047, 208 pages, PDF 2,6 MB
Bezmocná moc - Vítej isláme!
Terrifying brilliance of Islam (principles of functioning)
Děsivá rafinovanost Islámu (principy fungování)
Co by lidé měli vědět o islámu a o antiislámských aktivitách
Co byste měli doopravdy vědět o islámu
Tři fáze džihádu
Islamofilie v kostce (argumentační manuál)
Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery in Saudi Arabia
Arab Sex Slave Jobs In Saudi Child Abduction
Radikální islám je novodobý mor
Otázka soužití s islámem rozlítila hosty a vyprovokovala k odchodu ze studia Dvojky
Tahle země není pro muslimy - část i/iv (kritický pohled zevnitř)
Luděk Frýbort: V islámu človek nemá svou vlastní vůli, svou zodpovědnost, tím pádem ani svědomí
Přijmutím migrantů ukojíme svědomí, ale nevyřešíme problém, říká Luděk Frýbort
Miloš Hlaváček: Vařím pro azylanty, ale ti si ničeho neváží
Obyčejný občan ubytoval imigranty a nestačil se divit. Přečtěte si, jak to dopadlo...
Generál Šedivý pro PL: Němci zavřou hranice a uprchlíci se zastaví u nás. Kdo nemá doklady, bez milosti pryč. Neposlouchat Brusel, je mimo realitu. Jinak to lidé vezmou do vlastních rukou
Nejbohatší muslimské země odmítají všechny syrské uprchlíky. Obávají se terorismu

documentary movies:

Geert Wilders - Fitna: The Movie
Theo van Gogh - Submission
Dr. Bill Warner - Why are People afraid? CSPI - Center for Study of Political Islam www.cspii.org
Hasan Salman - Pravá tvář islámu (The real face of islam) en, cz
How the West Created the Islamic State

Still, Islam has a lot of common (as well as lot of differences) with sanatana-dharma:

Connections/Islam
An Interfaith Dialogue with Islam
Temple with a difference (Muslims's vision in a Krishna temple)

This book shows that the core of Islam is bhakti toward personal God: Hidden Treasure of Al Qur'an

1.4 Buddhists

Description:

Followers of the teachings and/or person of Gautama Buddha. Followers of mahayana also recognize previous Buddhas.

Types:

Southern Buddhists (theravada, hinayana) are atheists while Northern Buddhists (mahayana) are quite close to Vaishnavism. Closest is the Pure Land Buddhism, or Amidism, prevalent in Japan. Tantric Buddhism (vajrayana) and Zen are derived from mahayana.

Arguments and replies:
Four schools of Buddhism refuted by Vedanta-sutra
The Shadow of the Dalai Lama (Victor & Victoria Trimondi) book online

Point out connections, encourage devotional aspects of practice. A good book about Buddhist murtis from Pure Land Buddhism temples showing that they're not simply dead statues - Sarah J. Horton: Living Buddhist Statues in Early Medieval and Modern Japan (Palgrave Macmillan 2007).

1.5 Smartas

They are found mostly in India and don't preach. Similar to Orthodox Jews. They consider devas equal to Visnu/Krsna.

Arguments and replies:

- "The only real Hindu is the born one"

Vaisnavas and varnasrama
Demigods

1.6 Shaivas and Shaktas

Description:

Worshipers of Shiva and Shakti. There are several branches.

Arguments and replies:

- "Shiva/Shakti is supreme, beyond Vishnu"

"With offerings I propitiate the branches of this swift-moving God, the bounteous Vishnu. Hence Rudra gained his Rudra-strength: O Asvins, ye sought the house that hath celestial viands." (Rig Veda 7.40.5)
SB 1.7.4-11, elaboration in Maya and Siva and Durga

Stick to sastra and GV Vedanta in BGAII, SB (establish it as the topmost pramana as per Tattva sandarbha) and Govinda Bhasya.

1.7 Mayavadis

Description:

Mayavada (Advaita) is a Vedic heresy started by Adi Shankara (incarnation of Shiva) to serve as a temporary bridge to pass over Buddhism back to Vedas. This is confirmed by early Buddhist writers who testify that pre-Shankaran philosophers were monotheists. See section VII. D. in Mayavada.

Types:

Classical mayavadis, strict followers of Adi Shankara, are present mainly in India and accept BG, Vedanta (with advaita commentaries) and Upanisads (mainly those commented on by Adi Shankara).

Neo-Vedantists (Ramakrishna, Vivekananda, Krishnamurti, dr. Radhakrishnan, etc.) with their dilutions of Adi Shankara's doctrine are the main inspiration for New Agers.

Arguments and replies:
Mayavada

Explain Vaishnava siddhanta with the focus on advaita's weak points (see panca bheda of Madhva). Stress that Upanisads present both abheda and bheda aspects of Brahman.

See also Gnostics (1.2.1).

1.8 New Agers

Description:

Very common and popular. Usually don't accept anything contrary to their 'feelings' (manoratha, inflated ahankara) - against any genuine authority and sadhana which would limit their sense gratification. At the same time they tend to accept bogus ones which cater to their delusions. Love the idea of doing their own thing and still being considered spiritual. Obviously they hate Bhagavad Gita As It Is since it shatters those delusions (see quotes below) so they label it as 'intolerant' (implying that any nonsense and evil should be tolerated). Favorite slogans: 'everything goes' (but personal God), 'spiritual, not religious', etc.

Their types and attitudes are seen from lecture topics on New Age:

Beyond The Bodily Concept of Life
Date & Origin of Wisdom
Freedom to Be A Fool
Nature Does Not Make Any Mistakes!
The Allurement of Chemical Liberation
Love, Lust, Myth & Reality
Evasive Mysticism
Independent Insanity
Blissful Annihilation of the Self
Star Trek Spiritualism
Fashionably Non-Committed
The Myth of Non-Judgment
Cheating Heart Disease

Arguments and replies:

- "Must all teachers and spiritual sources condescend and belittle all other seeking? Leaves a lot of life's offerings to be marginalized. To be spiritual we should never speak anything that might appear to denigrate others."

So let's not marginalize the offering of the radical Muslims who are absolutely sincerely dedicated to thrusting Islam on the world at any cost including terrorism... The above suggestion is possible only within a certain widely accepted culture, like the Vedic one. And even within it there were various sages with various viewpoints who used to debate them.

- "We encourage people to seek only the simple truth of their actual nature."

Hitler had a simple truth about what he thought the nature was of the German people and he rallied them to near extermination of whole races. Should we also embrace his ideas with 'humility' as just another 'joy in life'? If not, why? After all Hitler was also entitled to the free expression of his opinions, wasn't he...? This is similar to the preceding point.

Gnosticism (see 1.2.1) and Theosophy are roots of New Age. They had a strong influence on social Darwinism and Nazism with its promotion of superiority of one race, eugenics, etc. They also started and promote the "Jesus in India" controversy.

Here is the most respected current work addressing the research on the additions to Bhavishya Purana: Draupadi Among Rajputs, Muslims and Dalits : Rethinking India’s Oral and Classical Epics/Alf Hiltebeitel. Delhi, Oxford University Press, 2001, xiv, 560 p., ISBN 019-5655044

Concerning the redacted Bhavisya Purana and the inserted portions of its modern published text, description of the seven mlecchacaryas - Adam, Enoch, Noah, Moses, Buddha, Jesus and Muhammad - parallels Shia or Ishmaili hierohistory (p. 278 of Hiltebeitel's book). To understand the inauthenticity of these inserted portions of text, it is enough to note that throughout the Biblical story references use Sanskritized Islamic Arabic names. Thus the names and stories have clearly come into the Purana not from any sui generis transcendent or even earliest Biblical Hebrew, Greek or Eastern-rite language Catholic source but from a much later Arabic / Muslim source. As with the "Book of Mormon", the language is a complete give-away to its true human origin. In the case of Smith's "Book of Mormon", its King James Bible version references are clear. In the case of the late additions to Bhavisya Purana, their Muslim Arabic and British influences are clear. One doesn't have to consider the issues of when the insertions were made, or what the motive was, to recognize that these passages have been added from some Muslim or British-influenced source. In addition, Muslim traditions (from the Hadith, etc.) and usages appear in the insertions (p. 277) and such Sanskritized Muslim names, as found in the text, are well attested in 19th century Bengali (p. 277).

If a person does not know that these were added, they cannot be faulted for citing them as part of an authentic Purana.

Related:
Swami B.V. Giri - Jesus in the Vedas

Sri Krishna on foolishness: Bewildered by the modes of material nature, the ignorant fully engage themselves in material activities and become attached. But the wise should not unsettle them, although these duties are inferior due to the performers' lack of knowledge. (Bhagavad Gita As It Is 3.29)

But ignorant and faithless persons who doubt the revealed scriptures do not attain God consciousness; they fall down. For the doubting soul there is happiness neither in this world nor in the next. (4.40)

Those miscreants who are grossly foolish, who are lowest among mankind, whose knowledge is stolen by illusion, and who partake of the atheistic nature of demons do not surrender unto Me. (7.15)

I am never manifest to the foolish and unintelligent. For them I am covered by My internal potency, and therefore they do not know that I am unborn and infallible. (7.25)

Fools deride Me when I descend in the human form. They do not know My transcendental nature as the Supreme Lord of all that be. (9.11)

The foolish cannot understand how a living entity can quit his body, nor can they understand what sort of body he enjoys under the spell of the modes of nature. But one whose eyes are trained in knowledge can see all this. (15.9)

Those who are demoniac do not know what is to be done and what is not to be done. Neither cleanliness nor proper behavior nor truth is found in them. (16.7)

Following such conclusions, the demoniac, who are lost to themselves and who have no intelligence, engage in unbeneficial, horrible works meant to destroy the world. (16.9)

Taking shelter of insatiable lust and absorbed in the conceit of pride and false prestige, the demoniac, thus illusioned, are always sworn to unclean work, attracted by the impermanent. (16.10)

Those who are envious and mischievous, who are the lowest among men I perpetually cast into the ocean of material existence, into various demoniac species of life. (16.19)

Those who undergo severe austerities and penances not recommended in the scriptures, performing them out of pride and egoism, who are impelled by lust and attachment, who are foolish and who torture the material elements of the body as well as the Supersoul dwelling within, are to be known as demons. (17.5-6)

The foolish with a poor fund of knowledge cannot know the transcendental nature of the forms, names and activities of the Lord, who is playing like an actor in a drama. Nor can they express such things, neither in their speculations nor in their words. (SB 1.3.37)

Related:
Isn’t It Better to Be Spiritual Instead of Being Religious?
New Age vs. Vedic tradition
Avataras (real vs. false)

2. Internal opponents

Sometimes a misunderstanding causes fellow Vaishnavas to attack our teachings. They should be dealt with according to the Vaishnava etiquette.

2.1 Vaisnavas from other sampradayas

Types:

immature hot-headed challengers

Arguments and replies:

They may accuse GV of various doctrinal and technical inconsistencies. As the first step stress common tattva and difference only in rasa (Sri Caitanya and Venkatta Bhatta).

- "Krishna is inferior to Vishnu"

Establish SB as the topmost pramana (see Tattva sandarbha) and show that Krishna is the source of Vishnu, being superior in rasa.

- "Radha and Caitanya Mahaprabhu are obscure in sastras"

Radha and Krishna
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu predicted
The Validity of the Gaudiya Sampradaya

Quote Prabhupada and previous acaryas that Caitanya Mahaprabhu is Radha-Krishna, etc.

2.2 Other Gaudiyas (G. Maths)

Types:

immature hot-headed challengers

Arguments and replies:

Sometimes they accuse ISKCON of various doctrinal and technical inconsistencies and claim to have 'higher teachings'.

Point out that Sarasvata (i.e. by Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura) siddhanta showed the highest potential to spread Mahaprabhu's message during the lifetime of BSST and now in ISKCON. What may appear 'higher' is the difference of presentation and in some cases the indiscriminate communication of rasika subjects to unqualified recipients.

Try to find a common ground and beware of aparadhas. For advanced preachers.

2.3 Gaudiya heretics (apasampradayas)

Types:

ritviks, immature raganugis, Gauranga-nagaris, etc. (see Apasampradayas)

Sri Advaita Acarya vs. ritvik-style virtual diksa

"One day Sri Madhavendra Puripada appeared to mother Sri Sita in a dream and told her with sweet words 'Listen, O Sita devi! My name is Madhavendra. Sri Advaita Candra took mantra from me. I will now give you the same siddha mantra that I have given to your husband and that attracts Krsna. Krsna does not eat grains offered to Him by an uninitiated person, and it is a great offence to act in a wayward manner.'

"Sita-devi said: 'I am very fortunate that I met you. Please purify my heart and body with mantra initiation.' Then Madhavendra Puripada gave Krsna-mantra initiation to Sita, after which he vanished.

"When Mother Sita awoke, she said: 'How amazing! Madhavendra Puripada gave me mantra diksa in a visionary dream!' Sita devi told everything to Advaita Acarya, who said: 'You are very fortunate. All your bonds have been severed.'

"Still, despite Sita's vision, He gave her initiation again, according to the rules, on an auspicious moment." (The Glories of Advaita Acharya, translated by Advaita Dasa, published by Rasbiharilal and Sons, Loi Bazaar, Vrindavan. End of chapter 'Advaita Prabhu's Marriage')

This story illustrates the "svapna mantra labha nyaya", the maxim of getting a mantra in dream. This maxim takes its origin from the fact that a mantra in order that it may secure success to a worshiper must be obtained not in a dream but from a guru or a preceptor, who has himself attained success, and is used to denote that to be able to attain success in any undertaking one must submit himself to the guidance of an experienced teacher. (NyAyAvalI 398)

That one cannot take initiation from a departed guru is also clear from this episode from the life of Ramakrsna das Babaji (previously named Rampratap) recorded by Haridasa Dasa of Haribol kutir, Navadvipa, in his Gaudiya Vaisnava Jivani:

"During Rampratap's stay in the cave, Balwant Rao, the elder brother of Madhava Rao, the King of Gwalior, once came and expressed his loyalty to him. It was arranged that Balwant would take spiritual initiation from Krsnacaitanya dasa. But when Krsnacaitanya suddenly died, Balwant was initiated by Kesavdeva of Gopinathabag."

Sri Virabhadra's dealing with heretics

To disregard one's guru and claim oneself a disciple of one's param-guru is a serious offense. For this Sri Virabhadradeva, son of Sri Nityananda, expelled a devotee named Jayagopala from the Vaisnava community:

"Jayagopala was a kayastha from the village Kandra in Bengal. Having transgressed the mercy of his spiritual master, he was ostracized by Sri Virabhadra Gosvami from the Vaisnava society." (a description of Jayagopala from Gaudiya Vaisnava Abhidhana, khanda 3)

"In Radhadesa, there is a village named Kandra. Sri Mangala and Jnana dasa lived there. Jayagopala was born in a family of kayasthas in that village. Out of false ego due to having obtained a high education, he became proud and evil-minded. His spiritual master was a pure devotee of the Lord but because he was illiterate, Jaya Gopala was ashamed of him. If someone inquired as to who his guru was, Jaya Gopala would say that his grand-spiritual master (parama-guru) was his guru. Srila Virabhadra Prabhu brought this up and ostracized him for having transgressed the mercy given to him." (Bhakti-ratnakara 14.180-183)

"Who does not cry on seeing the qualities of Sri Virabhadra Prabhu? He ostracized the sinful Jaya Gopala. Everyone came to know about this and no one would ever speak to him and so on." (Bhakti-ratnakara 14.190-191)

The origin of the ritvik concoction

"It was born from Nityananda's (acbsp) self-declared hate and envy for the GBC along with the illicit sex from one brahmana (purohit) Rupa Vilasa with the wife of the other resident Purohit Karnamrita dasa who were threatened by Nityananda that unless they could prove all ISKCON gurus were bogus he would stop paying their salaries. Thus Rupa Vilasa agitated his brain to come up with the ritvik concoction so that he could keep his job. He now regrets having done that, and he is forgiven, but this is the actual ugly history of the birth of the ritvik concoction. Take it at your own peril. " (Ajamila das ACBSP)

Arguments and replies:

Point out contradictions and defeat them but don't get entangled. If they can't be dealt with, it's better to leave them alone or refer them to an advanced preacher.

Ritviks e.g. reject all the previous acaryas since "the only authority is Prabhupada", iow a one pramana theory. However Srila Prabhupada rejects this idea:
"False devotees, lacking the conclusion of transcendental knowledge, think that artificially shedding tears will deliver them. Similarly, other false devotees think that studying books of the previous acaryas is unadvisable, like studying dry empiric philosophies. But Srila Jiva Gosvami, following the previous acaryas, has inculcated the conclusions of the scriptures in the six theses called the Sat-sandarbhas. False devotees who have very little knowledge of such conclusions fail to achieve pure devotion for want of zeal in accepting the favorable directions for devotional service given by self-realized devotees. Such false devotees are like impersonalists, who also consider devotional service no better than ordinary fruitive actions." (Caitanya Caritamrta, Adi-lila 2.117 p.)

Gaudiya Vaisnava siddhanta is based on three pramanas - guru, sadhu and sastra:
"One cannot return to Krsna consciousness unless he is favored by the instructions of a saintly person. Therefore Srila Narottama dasa Thakura sings: sadhu-sastra-guru-vakya, cittete kariya aikya. If we want to become saintly persons, or if we want to return to our original Krsna consciousness, we must associate with sadhu (a saintly person), sastra (authoritative Vedic literature) and guru (a bona fide spiritual master). This is the process." (SB 4.26.12 p.)

"And it is quite certain that to repeat to others any faults that the teacher may have, to ascribe to him faults that he does not have, and to respond insolently to his rebukes will cause us to be reborn in the hell of Torment Unsurpassed. There will be no reprieve even though we worship the Buddhas of a thousand million universes." (Lady of the Lotus-Born: The Life and Enlightenment of Yeshe-Tsogyal. Namkhai Nyingpo and Gyalwa Changchub, translated by Padmakara Translation Group. Shambhala Publications, Inc. 2002, p. 26-27)

2.4 Ex-devotees

Srila Prabhupada said: "It is not so amazing that someone leaves Krsna consciousness. The amazing thing is if someone stays." (Prabhupada Meditations 1.3.13). The most common reasons for leaving:
- matter-conditioned senses and mind (mostly among new devotees, see BG 16.23)
- uncompleted searching for one's place in spiritual life (ditto)
- psychic instability, relationship problem, etc. (medical cases)
- disagreement with other devotees, esp. authorities, culminating with abuse (personality problems)
- need to secure material livelihood and resultant gradual estrangement (due to the absence of varnasrama)
- loss of trust in guru and authorities (conflict with the ideal, sometimes based on intentional interpretation from enemies of ISKCON)
- philosophical deviations (mostly the result of asat-sanga and related aparadhas)

Depending on their reason(s), ex-devotees take an individual stance toward ISKCON. Only the last two reasons usually lead to a philosophical opposition which may be either (in most cases) materialistic (Western rationalism seems to be the favorite choice) or spiritual (another siddhanta or apasiddhanta from those listed above).

2.5 Our mind influenced by asat sanga

Related:
Atheism
Origin of Communism
New Age vs. Vedic tradition
Varnasrama
Defeat of Ritvik-vada (abridged and full)
Ritvikism (kniha "100 odchylek ritvikismu", debata, clanky)

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