Accepting a set of values and morals entirely different to our own is a choice we are all free to make, but which we should be much more careful with. I’d like to share more about how doing this and taking it to its logical conclusion affected me.
If that set of values is ‘translated’ for you by one person who positions themselves as absolute teacher, you have a cult with a charismatic cult leader. This can happen in any area of life. If a person tells you to accept what they are saying as higher truth than your own experience, they are trying to position themselves as your guide, and usually this relationships benefits them more than it benefits you.
Some organisations become self-sustaining, surviving the death of the cult leader, the fact remains: getting involved still benefits the organisation far more than it benefits the recruit.
That’s basically what the Hare Krishnas are. An entire religion based on one man’s interpretation of Hinduism. They believe that he was the ultimate teacher, a pure devotee of the Lord. The books he wrote are their perfect guidebooks for humanity for the next ten thousand years. If we follow them, we are supposed to achieve a perfect society.
A friend did a brilliant blog post, compiling the most shocking statements by this man about women.
So, to summarize, in Prabhupada’s opinion women are “less intelligent,” owing in part to their anatomically inferior “brain substance.” They are “not trustworthy” and “should not be given freedom,” for a woman “is beautiful when she remains as a slave to the husband.” To that end, the education of women is a “mistake.” Instead they “should be taught to sweep, how to stitch, clean, cook, [and] be faithful to the husband.” The husband, meanwhile, can have as many wives as he likes, and those wives should be married to him at “ten years” or older, because “after the first menstruation, the husband is ready.” Source
I then did a video, talking about how these horrible values were lived in that community. And how I was affected. I’m hoping for more women to do this. Radhika Bianchi who was born into the movement has done brilliant videos of her own, talking about how it felt to get out, and how she sees what the philosophy does to people.
Trying things, realising they don’t work, then getting rid, is not easy, when the ‘trying’ involved giving up or ‘surrendering’ yourself as much as I described in my last video. That’s why many don’t ever really get out. If you then, after getting rid, realise how much you were affected and changed, it’s good to talk about it.
Do I feel regret about trying as hard as I did? Maybe sometimes, but not doing things by halves is part of who I am.
How do you get yourself back when you haven’t consciously saved a backup? It’s a constant process of re-evaluating what you are doing, why you are doing it, who you are, and what you want. How does it work? Doing things, being with people. Does it hurt? Realising you’ve spent most of your life working for something that really didn’t do you, or the other people in it, any favours? Yes, definitely.
Am I happier now? Absolutely. We are humans, we make mistake, but we can rebuild and heal, and grow stronger.
But yes, the next time you think Hinduism is nice, peaceful, loving, and the Hare Krishnas are just a little bit dim but generally harmless, think again. Or the next time you’re tempted to accept any ‘higher teachings’.
Be more sceptical.