Why does corruption exist in religious organisations – can it be minimized?

by Chaitanya CharanDecember 3, 2016

Transcription (edited) by- Keshavgopal Das

Question- Why does corruption exist in religious organizations? How can it be minimized?

Answer (short)-

  • Corruption exist in religious organizations because such organizations are also made of human beings who have weaknesses e.g. greed which leads to corruption.
  • In the sadhana stage, practitioners in a religious organization would not have purified themselves fully; hence one will still find a gap between their thoughts and behavior.
  • However, some people in a religious organization would come with deliberate ulterior motives. We should be vigilant enough to screen such people and focus on those who are serious to the purpose.

Answer (long)- Yes, corruption exists in religious organizations because religious organizations are also made up of human beings who have weaknesses. One of the weaknesses in them is that they can become greedy and greed leads to corruption.

The purpose of religious organizations is to bring out our higher nature – free us from lust, anger, greed etc. That will happen when people practice their religion as transformational process. But when they practice it only as a cultural activity, only for name sake, sometimes even for ulterior motives like gaining prestige or power, then corruption will be present even in religious organizations. This can be avoided by screening them more effectively. We cannot just accept anyone who wears religious garb or speak some religious sounding terms as a religious person, leave alone a religious authority or teacher. There are three aspects of a person – achar (conduct), vichar (thoughts), and prachar (preaching) i.e.  how the person behaves, what are person’s thoughts, and what message the person preaches. Ideal situation is that for a person all these three are in synergy. Purification brings all these three things in synergy.

In the stage of sadhana, we cultivate high thoughts, we read high spiritual subject, which makes our thoughts (vichar) rise high but that may not lead to raising of our conduct (achar) to an equally higher level. This is the normal stage of struggle. However, some people come with ulterior motives and have no intention of raising their thoughts (vichar). Such people only make a show of their religiosity so that they can misappropriate religious resources. In such cases we have to be vigilant individually and collectively. If we are associating with religious people, we should be vigilant to check whether they are really interested in God or they are simply interested in religion for its fringe benefits. If we are connected to those religious organizations where there are strict standard of sadhana, where the process of purification is stressed adequately, then the chances of people being corrupted are lesser. Of course one will find such people in every organization who would be falling to their lower impulses. So we need to be alert and we need not blindly assume that everyone in a religious organization is good or everyone in a religious organization is bad.

Just as when we go to college we have a purpose to study, get a degree, and have a bright career ahead. In college one may find many people who just come for loafing around. If we associate with such people we will waste our time. We’ll also become a loafer. But if we focus on our studies, we focus on those who are studious, we associate with the teachers, and learn from them, then even if there are some elements in the college who are wasting their time, our time will be constructively used, and we will get our degree.  Similarly when we are coming to a religious organization, we need to know our purpose and associate with those who will benefit us in fulfilling our purpose. We come here to learn to love Krishna. And those who are seriously pursuing that purpose, we should associate with them. By such association we grow spiritually, and as people become more discerning individually and collectively, they will be able to sideline those elements in the spiritual organization that have not come with the purpose of going closer to God. As those people become sidelined, then the corruption in the organization will become lesser and lesser.

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Chaitanya Charan

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