Rotten Academia

BY: KRISHNA DASA- 4.3 2017

Rotten Academia and the Glorious Nama-sankirtana Yajna

Don't let the academics in ISKCON tell you that what they are doing is higher than harinama sankirtana. Academia does not correspond to real intelligence.

"So actually we don't require any other education. This association will give anyone who will come, either child or old man. That doesn't matter. He'll be highly educated. But because we are in this material world, therefore we have to give some education. But that is secondary. Real education this. Just like you are doing, all rising early in the morning, maṅgala-ārātrika, kīrtana, and then... These regulative principles, this is real education. It does not require any academic education. It is simply practice. Tan manye adhītam uttamam. That is Prahlāda Mahārāja's recommendation." 
(SP Lecture, June 10th, 1969)

The ninefold process of devotional service is real education, and Lord Caitanya has explained that of those nine processes, the very highest is the nama-sankirtana:

bhajanera madhye śreṣṭha nava-vidhā bhakti
'kṛṣṇa-prema', 'kṛṣṇa' dite dhare mahā-śakti

"Among the ways of executing devotional service, the nine prescribed methods are the best, for these processes have great potency to deliver Kṛṣṇa and ecstatic love for Him.

tāra madhye sarva-śreṣṭha nāma-saṅkīrtana
niraparādhe nāma laile pāya prema-dhana

"Of the nine processes of devotional service, the most important is to always chant the holy name of the Lord. If one does so, avoiding the ten kinds of offenses, one very easily obtains the most valuable love of Godhead." 
(Caitanya Caritamrta, Antya lila 70-71)

So if you want to know what is the perfection of education, then look no further than nama-sankirtana. If a person is not academically qualified but has the taste for nama-sankirtana then according to Srimad Bhagavatam that person is actually intelligent.

kṛṣṇa-varṇaṁ tviṣākṛṣṇaṁ
sāṅgopāṅgāstra-pārṣadam
yajñaiḥ saṅkīrtana-prāyair
yajanti hi su-medhasaḥ

"In the age of Kali, intelligent persons perform congregational chanting to worship the incarnation of Godhead who constantly sings the names of Kṛṣṇa. Although His complexion is not blackish, He is Kṛṣṇa Himself. He is accompanied by His associates, servants, weapons and confidential companions."

For decades, ISKCON academics have been sitting in their rooms trying to educate themselves. Yet, if you bring a group of them together you'll get a different opinion from each of them on what is the correct philosophy. Illusion!

It would be better if those academics took the humble position and recognized that dancing and chanting Hare Krsna is the highest activity, and an activity done by the most cultured and educated spiritual practitioners. Sadly, by preaching that what they do is higher, the academics are acting like parasites, sucking the life blood out of ISKCON.

Although they portray themselves as cutting edge preachers, a level above the temple devotees, the practical benefit of their preaching is minimal. How many academics have converted to Vaisnavism due to the preaching of Vaisnava scholars? And how many academic devotees are actually using their academic qualifications to spread Krsna consciousness? Very few.

We should judge a person by their heart, not on how academically qualified they are. Those with real intelligence like to chant the Holy Name and dance. If there is indifference to this then it is understood that the person has impurities and is not truly intelligent. The sad truth is that within ISKCON academic circles there is very little dancing and chanting. Their hearts are heavy.

By all means, suitable devotees should enter the academic arena as Srila Prabhupada desired, but it is only for a minority, not that every devotee tries. Many unsuitable devotees have failed to achieve the qualifications they hoped for. All those wasted years would have been better spent engaging in the real education program, the concentrated ninefold process of bhakti yoga as presented by Srila Prabhupada.

When Lord Caitanya and his associates were dancing and chanting in Benares, the Mayavada sannyasis criticised, saying they were sentimental. We should learn from their mistake and not think ourselves above dancing and chanting. It is about respecting the topmost process of nama-sankirtana.

Those devotee academics that understand this hierarchy and openly glorify nama-sankirtana should be offered all respect in return. We are not against preaching within academic circles, but we are against false elitism within ISKCON academia.

Please do not assume that these words are a symptom of arrogance. The true sankirtana devotees expect no respect, but they feel strongly that respect is due to the process of nama-sankirtana.