Why some devotees fear to attend ISKCON and follow strict rules?
A Girl devotee asked like this willing to be anonymous:
“I took my friend to iskcon temple where i visit every sunday. she came two sundays and stopped and going to another vishnu temple. when askekd she said she is comfortable in vishnu temple. why some devotees fear? please throw light on this”
Let me figure out some aspects that may cause inability for a few starter devotees to be unable to adjust in ISKCON temples:
The primary reason that might have caused a fear to attend ISKCON is that the disciplinary Regulative Principles recommended by Srila Prabhupada are very strict but they are the necessary rules for becoming pure to go closer to Krishna. Unless we are disciplined to control our material senses, we can’t go near Krishna. So, I fully support these 4 regulative principles and restrictions. Even in my Brahmana community, my Kula Guru by birth Sri Sri Chandra Sekarendra Swami Sankaracharya had advised to avoid onion and garlic as they induce Rajo guna that will not help in devotion. Even SRI Sampradhaya advises so. So, rules are there in every sampradhaya. Srila Prabhupada gives much importance to it and propogates it. This is the difference. So, your friend may be unable to cope up with these strict rules.
(ISKCON ARATI SONGS – MANGAL & SANDHYA ARATIS WITH MEANING! READ HERE!)
But, advise her that she MUST follow these rules IF SHE LIKES TO GO CLOSE TO KRISHNA. Even if she serves in Vishnu temple of other Sampradhayas, same rule applies. So, SHE MUST FOLLOW THESE RULES advised by Srila Prabhupada.
I WILL NEVER WRITE IN ANY PLACE RELAXING THESE 4 REGULATIVE PRINCIPLES JUST TO PLEASE THE DEVOTEES. IT IS THE MUST.
However, as far as conditions in sex relations between husband and wife for initiated devotees can be decided according the nature of either husband or wife. Though the standard is strict about sex in marriage, if either wife or husband is very much disturbed or induced in sex (or) if there is no child due to insufficient mating, they may involve in more mating. That means, you should try to satisfy the expectations of your spouse also. It may delay the devotional growth, but, you can concentrate seriously in devotion after the age of 50 in the case of such spouse with more need of mating. This is the only relaxation you can get in the case of rules, with the consent of your spiritual master.
(10 REASONS WHY ISKCON IS ABLE TO CREATE PURE DEVOTEES MORE? READ HERE!)
Second reason that might have caused a fear to attend ISKCON is that In ISKCON temples, many devotees including women vigorously dance for bhajans and kirtans. Some new devotees fear on seeing this. Usually, all devotees may not be interested in dancing even in their day to day life. They may be of calm type. So, they feel ODD if they are unable to dance like many others. Actually, this dance must happen out of ecstacy on hearing/ singing the kirtans. So, dancing because of REAL EXCITEMENT is alright. And, it has been recommended that THIS DANCE MUST BE SO GENTLE WITH SMALL MOVEMENTS. However, now a days, in many temples, I can observe some devotees dancing aggressively running here and there within the temple hall colliding with fellow devotees and even moving towards the women side of the congregation. Such dancing devotees sometimes voluntarily pull the new comers who are standing without dancing, to include them in their group dancing. This can be avoided. Because they may avoid coming to the temple again.
(My Vedic Brahmana family is against ISKCON way of devotion. How to explain? READ HERE!)
So, though the devotees dance out of love and ecstacy, my advice for them is that they should be very gentle in dancing with just some small steps holding the hands up as seen in the available pictures of Sri Caitanya Maha Prabhu. Aggressive dancing need not be done. And, if any devotee does not prefer it because of their inherited nature, he/ she can avoid dancing. No one should compel them.
So, tell your friend that dancing is not compulsory and she can attend even without dancing, if her reason is fear for dancing.
Third reason that might have caused a fear to attend ISKCON for new comers may be that they may become sanyasis. Actually, no one compels any devotee to get diksha or becoming sanyasi. If any devotee likes to grow in devotion and to get diksha, ISKCON has facilities. That’s all. It has facilities even if a devotee likes to become a sanyasi.
But, no compulsion. You can utilize any facilities ONLY IF you need it. Otherwise just be a congregation devotee.
(MY FRIEND TALKS ILL ABOUT ISKCON. WHAT TO DO? READ HERE!)
Fourth reason that might have caused a fear to attend ISKCON may be unwillingness or inability for donating money. This is also not a compulsion. We attend the sathsangha, get many benefits, lectures and also delicious Prasadam. So, it is always better to offer some small donation to your level best.. If there are 100 devotees, if each donate just 200 rupees, a feast can be arranged for 4 weeks. So, it is advisable to make atleast small donations, but, this too is not compulsory. if you are not financially well, you need not donate and you can involve in some other sevas. No devotee compels us to make donation as far as I observed in my long association with the temples. They may request in general, but, there is no compulsion. In my case, I am making voluntary donation to my bearable level for the past many years just on seeing their arrangements, and hence I do not feel it as a burden. And, it is always advisable to donate something for the construction of temples that will bring auspiciousness in our life.
So, tell your friend to freely attend the programs and do some other sevas if she is unable to donate.
(My Parents do not allow me to go to ISKCON. What shall I do? READ HERE!)
Fifth reason that might have caused a fear to attend ISKCON is a kind of guilt or complex. On seeing some devotees who are great or just showing themselves as great, these new comers feel: “I am unable to grow like this devotee, that devotee. I am not fit for devotion” like that. This is also not right. Even a beggar can serve Lord. In fact, even a cow is serving Lord as it offers milk to us that we use for offering to Krishna. Even a milkman can serve the lord as he sometimes offers milk freely for any special events like festivals.
Some devotees might have talked to her unnecessarily or might have hurt saying something that might have caused a fear to attend ISKCON sathsangas. If it is so, she must report it to the temple administrators instead of stopping coming to the temple. We can’t expect all the visitors to a temple to be perfect. A small percentage of visitors may not follow the rules strictly. In fact, temple is a spiritual hospital where patients suffering with material illness come. So, such issues are common every where.
In India, the devotees are confused with many concepts on god. When ISKCON says that Only Krishna is Supreme and others are demigods, many devotees who are following some other Sampradhayas find it difficult to accept immediately.
Most of the sampradhayas preach Krishna is the avatar of Vishnu and Vishnu is the Original Supreme Lord. When Srila Prabhupada says that Krishna alone is the original Supreme Personality of Godhead and Vishnu is His expansion, many find it difficult to accept.
(How to take some services in ISKCON Temples? READ HERE!)
So, every devotee can serve the Lord according to his capacity. Either temple cleaning, cooking, vegetable cutting, arranging mikes and lecture hall, distributing prasadam, making garlands for lord, stitching dress for Krishna’s deities, collecting donations, distributing books, etc, etc. How many services? What is the problem for her to involve in any one of the services?
So, any devotee can take part in devotional practices. It is not for the rich people alone. It is for all.
So, Let her start her services in the ISKCON temples also without fear. This is my advice.
(I like to join ISKCON to become a Member and Practice Devotion. How to Join? READ HERE!)
(How to take Diksha (Initiation) and become a disciple of a guru (spiritual master) in ISKCON? READ HERE!)