Did many devotees leave ISKCON because they couldn’t see suffering as Krishna’s mercy?

by Chaitanya Charan dasMarch 4, 2017

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Duration: 4 min

Transcribed by: Sundarinath das

Question: Is it that many devotees left ISKCON because they could not apply Shrimad-Bhagavatam’s teaching of tat te anukampam i.e. they could not see the difficulties as Krishna’s mercy?

Answer (short):
• There is always a symbiotic relationship with individual’s responsibility on one side and the responsibility of the society / institution on the other.
• As a movement and as an institution we should not be self-righteous and say that they could not apply the philosophy and left.
• The institution should see that as its responsibility that it could not help those leaving.
• Devotees are the representation of god’s mercy in this world even for those who cannot see difficult situations as god’s mercy

Answer (long):
Tat te anukampam verse from Shrimad-Bhagavatam (10.14.8) teaches to see the sufferings in our lives as the mercy of the Lord. Application of this verse in a devotee’s life is something for the individual to consider. The institution’s perspective should be why devotees were put in a situation that they decided to leave the society (ISKCON). There is always a symbiotic relationship between the individual and the society. Both have their individual roles to play. Let us understand this “symbiotic” aspect with the help of an example.
In the Vedic culture, when people grow old, they are expected to renounce the world, give up materialistic pursuits, go to the forest, absorb themselves in god, and die alone. Prabhupada says that such is an ideal death. This guidance is for the individual. However, the same Vedic culture also says that there are five elements of a society which are always protected. One of them is the elderly people. From an individual’s perspective, as one grows old one should just focus on spiritual growth and not have material expectations. But from the society’s perspective, since the elderly people have given their lives to the society, it is society’s duty to take care of them.

When some people leave a spiritual movement, especially an insular spiritual movement like ours, then even one person’s leaving creates insecurity. People wonder, “Why did they leave? Is there something wrong with the institute?” The devotees in the society often discuss to reassure each other, “The society did not do anything wrong, there must be something wrong with them only.” In fact, there could be something wrong with the society also which may need rectification. Quoting shastra to hold the parting devotees accountable should not be the perspective of the institution. The institution should contemplate on what could have been done to prevent the situation. Krishna’s mercy comes to this world through the devotees. If those who left could not see their situation as Krishna’s mercy,then this simply means that somebody did not come to them to tell how to access Krishna’s mercy.

As a movement and as an institution we should not be self-righteous and say that they could not apply the philosophy and left. The institution should see that as its responsibility and that it could not help them to apply the philosophy.

There was once a note put up on a car, which said, “Oh God, please save me from your preachers.” God saves us through his preachers but if the preachers come-off as self-righteous then one does not want to have anything to do with such preachers. Therefore, as an institution we should see it as our responsibility to help those who are in need, so that they feel Krishna’s mercy coming through the community of devotees that they are part of.

About The Author
Chaitanya Charan das

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