Recently I’ve been reading articles on parampara, which disagree with the way that ISKCON knows and teaches parampara. The main point seems to be that diksha parampara is correct and siksha parampara (the ISKCON and GM way) is not.
The question that comes to my mind is this – many if not all Christian churches and denominations believe that their own branch of Christianity is the only true branch. Certainly ISKCON believes this, with maybe the exception of the Ramanuja sampradaya. Yet other Vaishnava camps seem to have the same tunnel vision, i.e. that “our path, guru, line, parampara or whatever is the only way.” This brings up another question: “Doesn’t it limit Krishna when we say that Krishna can only be reached by a specific process? In other words, can the unlimited be limited?”
Of course then a counter argument is that Krishna Himself has set down the way in which to approach Him – evam parampara praptam. Then again, I suppose it depends upon what one believes parampara is (siksha or diksha).
Still the concept of limiting Krishna, or confining Him to a process doesn’t appear to be correct. Yet, in arguing that Krishna can’t be confined, one might pose the argument that ‘Krishna cannot be confined by the teachings of the Vedas’ either. With this latter argument, one undermines the foundation of sastra. But is there some truth to this argument too?
And again we have Rupa Goswami teaching us “atyahara prayasas ca prajalpo niyamagraha,” niyamagraha meaning that bhakti is destroyed by too much attachment to the rules (perhaps the emphasis of diksha parampara) and also by neglect of the rules (perhaps the emphasis on siksha parampara).
So where is the balance? Is it a matter of who’s right and who’s wrong? Is one way the only correct way? Are both ways correct and perhaps immaturity prods one to think up various arguments to give an individual support in his or her belief system?
Even when we analyze the word diksha (and please forgive me here, I’m no Sanskritist), my limited understanding is that diksha is the imparting of transcendental knowledge. Does initiation have to take place in order for this to happen? Isn’t initiation just a ritual and the bottom line is the education, i.e. the knowledge and realization one achieves?
In his article titled 'An introduction to controversial issues in Gaudiya Vaishnavism,’ Jagat wrote, “Prabhupada told us Krishna Consciousness was not a sectarian movement. It behooves us to understand what sectarianism is and how it acts.” Looking up the word sectarian, I found the following definitions: adhering or confined to the dogmatic limits of a sect or denomination; partisan; narrow-minded; parochial.
It seems to me when people get involved in arguing who is better than whom, or who is right and who is wrong, it becomes confusing at best. Then of course the notorious third argument comes in saying, ‘Why waste your time with it?’
Perhaps a similar issue was ISKCON’s handling the jiva issue. We had the people arguing that we were with Krishna before, the people saying we weren’t and then the people saying ‘crow and tal fruit logic’ (why waste your time with this issue). In the end, it seems that the truth did come out and ISKCON’s response was to cover over that truth with their concocted version due to sentimentally held ideas.
I’m just trying to present two sides of the story here. I don’t feel that I know the answer, and if there is in fact an answer I would like to learn what it is. I look forward to any following discussion.