For the past couple of days I assumed a rather militant tone. Atheists be dead! Long Live Hare Kṛṣṇas! War is inevitable! Our kṣatriyas must be ready to kill! The reality, of course, is nothing like that and I don’t really want it to be like that, so, perhaps, it’s time to slow down and take less confrontational approach.
Thing is, however, that all of the above is inevitable in one form or another, there could only be mitigating circumstances, not principal changes. Still, calling for a war, even if it’s only a war of words, is not right.
What should comfort us the most is that our Lord Caitanya did not come to kill the demons but only demoniac mentality. The war on atheism should never cross onto actual battlefields. Having said that, there was clear demonstration of force in the famous conversation with Chand Kazi. The Lord might have used arguments to convince His uncle not to obstruct saṇkīrtana but the presence of thousands of devotees just outside the gates was a kind of argument, too.
I guess we can try that, too – a great assembly of devotees to demonstrate to our rulers that Hare Kṛṣṇa’s interests must be taken into account, too. Won’t impress Russians, I suppose, but should work elsewhere in the world.
Usually, outside of known conflict zones, local rulers are understanding of our needs and our progress as a society is not slowed down by atheistic governments but by our own limitations.
We don’t need to show force, we just have to preach visibly and governments would appreciate us automatically. Why?
Because our message is transcendental. Practically it means our message is apolitical, we are not seen as enemies by anyone, except Russian Orthodox Church, and everyone love to have us as friends. People who are interested in promoting religions are especially appreciative.
We do not always speak in their language and quite often it’s cheap tricks like regulative principles or feeding people that impress them most. If it works we should use it anyway. It takes a certain amount of piety to demonstrate intelligence sufficient enough to accept our philosophy.
We, of course, think that our philosophy is very easy. There’s God, there are souls, there’s karma, there’s reincarnation, and soul’s job is to serve God – what’s so complicated about it? For some reason, however, people can’t comprehend even the apparent simplicity of it.
“Soul”, for example, means different things to different people. Afaik, only us accept it as a living entity, everyone else thinks it’s one of the features of themselves, hence “my soul”. Christians idea of the soul is closer to our idea of subtle body than the idea of jīva.
Karma and free will are two other concepts we disagree on philosophically. We disagree on those even among ourselves. The idea of serving God as a goal of life is also alien to many, people’s attitudes are generally very egocentric to comprehend this point in full. They still think in terms of what God can do for them.
Kṛṣṇa himself said that some do not understand the soul even after having heard all about it: śrutvāpy enaṁ veda na caiva kaścit (BG 2.29).
The main battle lines for us are not on the streets or in the fields, they are in people’s minds. We will take over the world by preaching, not by fighting. Atheists have nothing to be afraid of, we pose no danger to them, all they could possible lose is their convictions.
Perhaps we should calibrate our preaching force keeping that in mind, too, especially considering that we are supposed to win people over not by forceful but by sweet arguments. Service to Kṛṣṇa must look supremely attractive and people should take to it voluntarily and with great enthusiasm.
What about those who disagree? Should we force them? Well, yes and no. Ultimately, there are no disagreements over our philosophy – it’s perfect, there’s only a question of misunderstanding and misunderstandings are meant to be corrected, not punished.
In real life, however, it’s often more practical to simply force people to do something rather than waste time trying to educate them. That’s why we must follow our sādhana even if we don’t appreciate its merits, too. It takes us many years of practice before we realize the value of our service, prior to that we just do it because we were told so.
We aren’t forced to follow sādhana, however, and so neither should people be forced to do anything. They should be persuaded instead. Even if they must be punished, for theft, for example, they must be persuaded that accepting punishment is in their best interests and they should do it voluntarily.
If that’s the idea we all strive for then people would forgive us for minor transgressions.
There are practical examples of such approach in action. Just this year Russia has taken over Crimea without firing a shot. A coup happened in Thailand without firing a shot, too. Hundreds of those who opposed it were detained but junta managed these detentions so cleverly that no one complained in the end.
Just as with Kazi – was it a show of force? Yes. Was it a use of force? No.
Dealing with our internal disagreements is trickier. We aren’t going to use force against each other and we understand that we are all devotees, our disagreements will never cross a line. When Russian ISKCON won their case against labeling Bhagavad Gīta as extremist literature ALL devotees celebrated it together – those who left of Gauḍīyā Maṭhas, those who left for bābājīs, those who left for ritviks, even those who left active service altogether.
At the bottom of our hearts we all bow down to Kṛṣṇa and to ALL His devotees. Our infighting is just like family feuds, it’s just to keep us occupied rather than cause actual harm.
Accordingly, the punishment for our internal transgressions should never be anything more than public disapproval. Of course we can also take administrative steps, like official ex-communication, but nothing that would actually harm people, and nothing that would leave no room for eventual forgiveness.
The real problem with infighting is not actual damage but that it saps our energy, which should be better applied elsewhere. The problem is only the loss of opportunity.
Just as with materialists, all that is really needed to solve our problems is a little more Kṛṣṇa consciousness. All we have to do is to show the participants that their opponents are connected and supported by Kṛṣṇa. Once we see that connection our desire to fight disappears like fog under morning sun.
To sum it up – all our fights are fights against ignorance and our only weapon is knowledge. Knowledge, saṇkīrtana, and a prayer to the Lord to appear in everyone’s heart.
The way we conduct our wars shouldn’t look like a fight at all.