Why do ISKCON devotees sometimes say that they are Hindus and sometimes deny it?

by Chaitanya CharanJune 29, 2013

Are they not sure of their position? Or are they just self-servingly changing their position based on what is convenient?

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Chaitanya Charan
  • krishna dasa
    August 1, 2014 at 6:09 pm

    We must always keep in mind here the common, contrasting Sanskrit philosophical terms: vyavaharika, ‘relating to ordinary or mundane affairs, usage or practice’ and paramarthika, ‘relating to a spiritual object, or to supreme, essential truth.’ It seems fair to say that according to O’Connell’s survey of sixteenth to eighteen century Gaudiya Vaisnava literature, the Vaisnava devotees considered themselves Hindu in a vyavaharika sense, but never in a paramarthika sense. Indeed, from the paramarthika viewpoint, ‘Hindu’ is simply another upadhi, or worldly designation. After all, a Hindu may convert to another religion, but on the spiritual platform, the pure soul,atman, can never become anything else in an ontological sense, though the soul may forget its true identity.

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