Krsnacandra Dasa – Vrndavan: FISKCON (ISKCON) has been active in India for the past thirty three odd years, since HDG Srila Prabhupada entered into Samadhi, yet due to the self interest of the Franchised Rubber Stamped Guru system and the Corporate GBC’s it has only expanded laterally with the inclusion of more gurus whose desire is to obtain more disciples and more properties. There has been no forethought to lSKCON’s development and influence within the Nation itself. Following is a thought that I had some years ago which I put it down on paper to see if it was practical. I would like to offer our readers the opportunity to comment or expand on this idea and to begin a discussion on its necessity or viability.
India is currently in a state of rapid growth and development and judging from its present political climate has now reached a point where it must learn how to balance both its Religious identity with its sociopolitical identity. The new India seems lost in the various ‘isms’ that make up the sociopolitical ‘new world’ in which we live in and therefore it must find its way in this convoluted philosophical quagmire in order to not lose its identity.
India having chosen the democratic way to run its secular sociopolitical system is experiencing problems that are associated with that choice. A democracy is only truly a democracy when the ‘majority’ of the members of that society decide what should or should not be done. However, in the Indian system, like many other democracies in developing countries, the democratic process has fallen victim to decisions being made via the vocal and active minority lobby.
The Indian political system was devised by the British with the major parties being basically Socialists / Liberalist in their political agenda. This political influence was established in India many years prior to the British leaving, with the formation of the Indian National Congress in 1885. This party was established by members of the British Theosophical Society and heavily influenced by British Fabian Socialist Nehru. The Nehru-Gandhi family have been in control of the Indian National Congress since that time to the present.
Socialist political systems tend toward supporting Political Correctness, Minority groups over the majority, and Governmental control and ownership of welfare/health etc. Socialist Governments also tend to support or be soft on Communists as evidenced by the number of Communistic controlled states in India.
Communism is the total control of the country by the government with no private enterprise, Socialism is the semi control of the country by Government with some private enterprise (limited capitalism) and Liberalism is more in favor of private enterprise and embraces Capitalism.
Politicians attempt to gain power by supporting the active minorities who are more than willing to vote due to feeling a sense of impotence, disempowerment or politically motivated agitation, while the ‘majority’ feel a sense of impotence and apathy from being let down by the Politicians that they voted into power.
For example we are living in post Islamic / British India and India still bears the scars of these regimes. Even though India has been more than generous to these past rulers by either supporting the British while they drained India of its resources and treasures and by gifting nearly 803,940 km² of land to their Islamic conquerors and not even asking or gaining an apology…
No one can say that India has not been a great benefactor to their past rulers. Now it is time for India to stand on its own two feet and face the world as a fully fledge and mature Nation.
In the sociopolitical quagmire that India finds itself it is hard for it to have a clear and distinctive identity within the context of its ‘nationhood’.
There are many new ideas coming forth in India as to what that identity should be. For example there is a rapidly developing sense of ‘Hindutva’, where an Indian is a person who holds to the premise that they are essentially ‘Indian’ by Heritage and by Culture as distinct from Religion. A true Hindutva Indian can have any religious belief system and is therefore more or less a citizen of the world. However, it does lend itself more to the Hindu cultural aspect and religious traditions without accepting the ‘Sanatana Dharma’ aspect of its culture.
Secular Humanism is also another path that Indians are choosing. Here also religion is not considered, but a person believes that through education, science and democracy one can achieve a harmonious society. The role that Religion plays in the individual is more of a personal belief that is not to be considered in a sociopolitical context.
Yet, somehow India is struggling. The minority issue has reached a boiling point. Islamic extremists are beginning to assert themselves in the Indian Subcontinent. The same is happening in the Christian Communities and Maoist Communist communities.
We are seeing a rise in politically motivated riots and violence and as well as an escalation of terrorist activity as a direct result of pressure from these minority groups as they attempt to assert themselves against the Hindu majority.
The question is posited; what is the eventual outcome of developing an identity that is based on either Hindutva or Secularism? Will India lose its Religious Heritage?
When examining these propositions one must look at India’s past. India has the most ancient and sophisticated past, that was based on Sanatana Dharma or an eternal religion and is the most ancient Monotheistic tradition present on earth. The Veda contains the most ancient scientific knowledge of both the mundane and spiritual worlds.
No other country can boast this antiquity of both Heritage and Tradition.
The modernist mind seeks to create a new world based on modern mechanistic science that has no place for the old or traditional.
The natural course of secular countries is to develop a unified international system of thought and practices, where there is one world, one political view, one people and one economy and ultimately one religion.
Indians must ask the question; do they want this? That the goal of life is to become a homogenized ‘generic’ consumer in a global economy? For in order to have this they must let go of their past and embrace modernistic, permissive liberalistic thought and practice and becoming a player in the global economy by looking, acting and thinking like everyone else.
Do Indians want to lose their Heritage? Does ISKCON want India to lose its Religious Heritage?
If not then what shall be done? There are many solutions to this problem.
Firstly we must look at some historical facts;
The term Hindu is derived from Persian invaders who could not pronounce ‘S’ and used the term Hindu to delineate the peoples of the land east of the Sindhu river in the now country of Pakistan. This name/term is not found in Sanskrit and has been introduced into so called Hindu terminology. The Indians themselves rarely refer to the name India and instead refer to it as Bharat or Bharat Varsh the original name of India.
The name India is an English term and is from Greek Hindía, via Latin India Hindía in Byzantine Koine Greek ethnography denotes the region beyond the Indus river, since Herodotus (5th century BC) “Indian land”, “an Indian”, from Avestan Hinduš (referring to Sindh, and listed as a conquered territory by Darius I in the Persepolis terrace inscription). The name is derived ultimately from Sindhu, the Sanskrit name of the river, but also meaning “river” generically
The name India was known in Anglo-Saxon, and was used in King Alfred‘s translation of Orosius. In Middle English, the name was, under French influence, replaced by Ynde or Inde, which entered Early Modern English as Indie. The name India then came back to English usage from the 17th century onwards, and may be due to the influence of Latin, or Spanish or Portuguese.
Sanskrit indu “drop (of Soma)”, also a term for the Moon, is unrelated, but has sometimes been erroneously connected. Listed by, among others, Colonel James Todd in his Annals of Rajputana, he describes the ancient India under control of tribes claiming descent from the Moon, or “Indu”, (referring to Chandravanshi Rajputs), and their influence in Trans-Indian regions where they referred to the land as Industhan.
If India is not really India but Bharata Vasha then it is important to understand what a name change can do for a sense of identity. The Religion of India was Sanatana Dharma and the practice of that religion is Varnasrama Dharma. So what does this mean to the sense of being Indian in the current context?
The main reason why a modern Indian thinks in the way that he or she does is due to their education. To date India has been using the western secular humanistic system to educate its children which is man centric as opposed to God centric. This system is predominately Western and Urban in its orientation and mainly teaches the child to become a consumer.
In order for an Indian to ‘think outside the square’ of modern secular thought they would have to be educated in a profoundly different manner. Firstly education would be designed to be in accord with a person’s Psychophysical nature as determined by Astrology and Assessment and be based on a urban and rural context as opposed to a ‘one process for all’ urban orientated education system that is used worldwide.
The question is raised of how to steer people’s minds and hearts in the direction where India can change and grow in a healthy context as opposed to a homogenous worldwide secular context and thus not lose its ancient and beautiful heritage.
The first stage would be to take a leaf from the pages of the secularist and use a specific system that has proven to be most effective in the democratic context.
That is the formation of a lobby group…
In the Indian context we see the Muslim Lobby groups having tremendous power and influence in the political arena. The American experience we see the Jewish Lobby having even more tremendous power and influence with the US government to the point of dictating foreign policy.
In the Indian context we are seeing the Muslim, Christian and Communist lobby having tremendous power and influence, while the Hindu lobby seems to be struggling with minorities within its own ranks. The main reason for this struggle is that fact that Sikhs, Jains, etc who are representative in this lobby are also vying for their rights and issues.
In the context of ISKCON it is important to understand how this modern India can affect our aims and objectives?
ISKCON role in India is not fully developed and it is imperative for its continued development and expansion that it will need a support group in the political arena that is not party or personality (guru) based.
Thus I am presenting the ‘idea’ of establishing a Vaisnava Lobby Group to protect and support both ISKCON as well as help influence the political process in keeping with the aims and objectives of ISKCON.
Vedic Vaisnava Cultural Council (VVCC)
There is a need to establish an independent lobby to aid and support ISKCON in securing its position and influence in the Indian Subcontinent.
The VVCC will be operating under the direction of the present committee of sub-committee and will conduct both research and lobby activities as directed by the Board.
The VVCC will be comprised of a Secretariat / Research & Publications Department / Campaign & Promotional Department.
The VVCC will not be associated with ‘party politics’ or any political party. Its members will not hold any party or government positions of any kind.
VVCC Mission Statement
The VVCC’s purpose will be to attempt to influence governments via education, funding grants and special projects, in order to further the aims and objectives of ISKCON.
- Education: Multi media / workshops and seminars / literature etc on Vedic Vaisnava policies and programs for professionals, academics, educational facilities, interest groups, political parties/politicians and the general public.
- Guilds: Establish guilds based on Varna which offers apprenticeships for Youth to receive on the job training for future employment.
- Grants in Aid: Offer grants (one off seeding / fixed term or percentage grants etc) for services or programs directed or supported by ISKCON.
- Special Projects: Special Community Projects as requested by ISKCON.
Special Projects: This is the main societal thrust of the VVCC. Projects will be limited to the aims and objectives of the VVCC.
- Restoration and Protection of Holy Shrines, Temples and places of pilgrimage.
- Cow Protection – Protect stray cows / illegal slaughter / medical education and treatment.
- Promotion of Vegetarianism – education / information.
- Holy site / city protection – promote the religious standard of holy sites and cities.
a) Promotion and enforcement of vegetarianism / alcohol and drug free / illegal sex and gambling.
- Promotion of Ancient Indian – Culture / Arts and Crafts / Philosophy / Science and Education.
- Promotion of Agrarian Culture via promotion of – Vedic Agriculture / Science / Employment programs (apprenticeships).
Via – Political lobbying / educational programs / incentive grants / educational training facilities etc the VVCC shall support the aims and objectives of ISKCON in order to promote Ancient Indian Culture and Traditions.
Some examples of proactive programs that could either be totally or partially funded by the VVCC;
Point 2 above cites cow protection as a responsibility of the VVCC. The VVCC may look into the establishment of a Cow Protection Police Squad – that is a national or state special projects team that investigates and arrests individuals or groups involved in illegal cow poaching and operation of illegal slaughter houses.
Point 3 above cites Holy Sites – the VVCC can establish a national board to maintain and renovate holy Vaisnava sites.
Staff will not be from a political party as well as belonging to any religious tradition that may cause conflict with the aims and objectives of ISKCON or the VVCC.
The VVCC shall be initially staffed by lawyers and legal researchers. These individuals must demonstrate aptitude and experience in constitutional and organizational law and research skills.
Initially there will be a requisite of a constitutional lawyer and one researcher.
The VVCC shall seek private funding from individuals and parties who are interested in pushing and supporting a Vaisnava / Vedic political agenda.
There is a need for such a body to protect and support the interests of the Heritage International Foundation as well as to assist in developing a more traditional cultural and religious sense of being within India.
Initially it is envisioned that the VVCC shall be established as an offshoot to this committee and shall be involved in researching both the establishment of the VVCC its aims and objectives but also building a data base of research findings and positional papers for the VVCC.
Yours in the service of Srila Prabhupada