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Avinash

How is Vaishnavism not sectarianism?

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Not to disrupt the flow or anything, but in my opinion, this discussion would be more meaningful if standard, accepted definitions of the two words - Vaishnava and Sect are provided and shown per standard definitions that Vaishnavism is indeed a sect. Without using prevailing understanding as a frame of reference, this thread will merely exchange individual opinions and no one is right or wrong.

 

Then people who disagree with accepted standards can offer their arguments and make a case for deviating from standards. Obviously, singing the praises of their own affiliations and Gurus without any objective data does not qualify as an argument. An argument that can be reused by other sects by simply substituting the term Vaishnava with their own affiliation, is not a valid argument either. For example, a statement such as "Vaishnavism is the true religion of the soul" can be used by a Shaiva as "Shaivism is the true religion of the soul". Such statements are no better than idle praise and are completely worthless as arguments.

 

Just to go the extra step, here are the accepted standards as I know them.

Vaishnava - worshipper of Vishnu

Sect - a group adhering to a specific teacher or doctrine

 

Vaishnavism is a doctrine that selects scriptures which praise Vishnu as the highest entity and lays down the principles of Vishnu worship and the ultimate goal to be attained by mankind, among other things. Hence, by the above definitions, it follows that Vaishnavism is a sect or a family of sects when it may consist of multiple groups with certain differences in detail.

 

Now one can raise the argument that Vaishnavism is not about the physical world. but of the soul and a trascendental realm. This concept however is still part of the doctrine [or it would be an invalid statement otherwise] and hence does not deviate from the standard.

 

Cheers

This isn't a semantic problem. It is a philosophical one. Philosophers and sadhus can't be replaced by lexicographers.

The definition of sect that you offer is minimal and doesn't capture what the discussion suggests - that Vaisnavism is more than than just a teaching and a practice equivalent to every other mundane sect.

If it is, then it is inconsistent. Surrender to Krsna is contingent upon abandoning sectarianism (dharmas). That would imply that in fact the realization of Vaisnavism depends on abandoning Vaisnavism.

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It's called 'reductio ad absurdum' or indirect proof.

This is the pattern.

 

A Vaisnavism is a 'variety of religon' (sect) - premise is true?

B Vaisnavism is surrender to Krsna - premise is true - (Gita)

C Krsna tell us to abandon A, ( A = B).

Therefore there is a religious sect whose god tells them to abandon religious sects. Invalid - a contradiction.

 

Since the conclusion is invalid, one of the premises, either A or B must be false.

We know B is not false because of the Gita.

Therefore A must be false.

 

Similar proof can be found in every sect/religion by using their own scriptures. So this proves nothing. And to my knowledge, no one outside the Gaudiya line interpets 18.66 as giving up all varieties of religion and that includes all the other Vaishnavas.

 

About that long description of s Vaishnava from the Chaitanya Charitmarita - let us be realistic. If you were to set out looking for such a person, you will not find one. it is simply impossible for a single human to possess the superset of all those traits. That list was the product of someone's whimsical imagination.

 

Let us stick to meaningful and practical definitions where possible and in this case that would be Vaishnava - worshipper of Vishnu. Now this creates ambiguity too. There are several Advaitins who worship Krishna like crazy. But they do not call themselves Vaishnavas nor will traditional Vaishnavas be inclined to label such Advaitins as Vaishnavas. So we will have to narrow down the definition further. .

 

Cheers

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This isn't a semantic problem. It is a philosophical one. Philosophers and sadhus can't be replaced by lexicographers.

 

Sorry....you are completely off on that. We are dealing with well established english and sanskrit words here and this is pure semantics.

 

If you bring in your sentiments, then so will the other guy and by that logic, then there is no sect in the world as all sects will claim to be above sects - based on sentiments similar to yours. And that moots the discussion.

 

Cheers

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I have read lots of posts in this site claiming that Vaishnavism is not sectarianism, true Vaishavas are never sectarian etc.?

Please explain to me why Vaishnavism is not sectarianism when other religious schools are.

 

If defined in the context of BG 18.66, V isn't a sect. But that's asking too much.

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Similar proof can be found in every sect/religion by using their own scriptures. So this proves nothing. And to my knowledge, no one outside the Gaudiya line interpets 18.66 as giving up all varieties of religion and that includes all the other Vaishnavas.

 

About that long description of s Vaishnava from the Chaitanya Charitmarita - let us be realistic. If you were to set out looking for such a person, you will not find one. it is simply impossible for a single human to possess the superset of all those traits. That list was the product of someone's whimsical imagination.

 

Let us stick to meaningful and practical definitions where possible and in this case that would be Vaishnava - worshipper of Vishnu. Now this creates ambiguity too. There are several Advaitins who worship Krishna like crazy. But they do not call themselves Vaishnavas nor will traditional Vaishnavas be inclined to label such Advaitins as Vaishnavas. So we will have to narrow down the definition further. .

 

Cheers

Only those sects that include the essential features of Vaisnavism could qualify as making such a statement.

All this means is that Religion is one. Insofar that a religious process advances real Religion, it transcends sectarianism.

Not every religion has a scriptural statement to surrender to Krsna and abandon all varieties of religion.

The significant difference is the notion of religion in the Gita is truly transcendental and non-sectarian. That could also be said of Jesus' teachings as well.

So there are many 'religions' that manifest real Religion. So what? That doesn't make them sects.

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Sorry....you are completely off on that. We are dealing with well established english and sanskrit words here and this is pure semantics.

 

If you bring in your sentiments, then so will the other guy and by that logic, then there is no sect in the world as all sects will claim to be above sects - based on sentiments similar to yours. And that moots the discussion.

 

Cheers

Good point, if in our world Vaishnavism is considered as sectarianism or above sectarianism depends upon who presents Vaishnavism. There're surely Vaishnavas who present it like sectarian and others who present it as above sectarianism.

Otherwise I saw even materialists who would agree that Lord Vishnu, God is transcendental to the differences of all those religions.

 

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Sorry....you are completely off on that. We are dealing with well established english and sanskrit words here and this is pure semantics.

 

If you bring in your sentiments, then so will the other guy and by that logic, then there is no sect in the world as all sects will claim to be above sects - based on sentiments similar to yours. And that moots the discussion.

 

Cheers

First off your definitions don't capture the full meaning. Vaisnavism is a rich tradition that can hardly be reduced to semantics.

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Good point, if in our world Vaishnavism is considered as sectarianism or above sectarianism depends upon who presents Vaishnavism.

 

That's a no-brainer. Siksa authority is everything in Vaisnavism. The quality of the teaching is dependant on the quality of the teacher. It says so in the Gita.

 

tad viddhi pranipatena

pariprasnena sevaya

upadeksyanti te jnanam

jnaninas tattva-darsinah

(Gita 4.32)

["Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized souls can impart knowledge unto you because they have seen the truth." (BBT)]

 

It is all about internal realization. That is common to all bona fide religions, therefore non-sectarian.

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First off your definitions don't capture the full meaning. Vaisnavism is a rich tradition that can hardly be reduced to semantics.

 

Then the whole concept is pointless. Why bother to read the Gita - a set of words, or listen to a Prabhupada lecture - which is another set of words?

 

Since you claim words cannot capture the richness, then how was this richness communicated to you in the first place?

 

And since you evidently have a problem with using the word sect - surprising for someone who is not into semantics - why don't you provide your alternate definition of what you understand from the word sect so that we know what exactly your reservations are?

 

Cheers

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That's a no-brainer.

Thanks to God that cbrahma is a brainer who can lead us to the light.

 

Prabhupāda: The Vedic injunction is, “Don’t stick to this asat. Try to come to the sat, eternal.” Tamasi mā jyotir gama. These are the… “Don’t remain in the darkness. Come to the light.”

 

David Lawrence: That was one track on George’s record which really, really got through to our boys, I think. “Light, is it? Light of the World.”

 

Śyāmasundara: “Light, there is, Light of the World.”

 

David Lawrence: Really…

 

Prabhupāda: So his record has become very successful.

 

Śyāmasundara: Number one everywhere. In America.

 

Prabhupāda: Now, even they are appreciating.

 

Room Conversation

with David Lawrence

His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda

July 12, 1973, London

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Then the whole concept is pointless. Why bother to read the Gita - a set of words, or listen to a Prabhupada lecture - which is another set of words?

 

Since you claim words cannot capture the richness, then how was this richness communicated to you in the first place?

 

And since you evidently have a problem with using the word sect - surprising for someone who is not into semantics - why don't you provide your alternate definition of what you understand from the word sect so that we know what exactly your reservations are?

 

Cheers

It is simply a matter of definition that what is true across religious sects is non-sectarian.

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Thanks to God that cbrahma is a brainer who can lead us to the light.

 

Prabhupāda: The Vedic injunction is, “Don’t stick to this asat. Try to come to the sat, eternal.” Tamasi mā jyotir gama. These are the… “Don’t remain in the darkness. Come to the light.”

David Lawrence: That was one track on George’s record which really, really got through to our boys, I think. “Light, is it? Light of the World.”

Śyāmasundara: “Light, there is, Light of the World.”

 

David Lawrence: Really…

Prabhupāda: So his record has become very successful.

Śyāmasundara: Number one everywhere. In America.

 

Room Conversation

with David Lawrence

His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda

July 12, 1973, London

It's a no brainer for anybody with respect to Vaisnavism. The teaching depends on the teacher. Tattva-darshana - one who has seen the truth.

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It's a no brainer for anybody with respect to Vaisnavism. The teaching depends on the teacher. Tattva-darshana - one who has seen the truth.

Agreed, just looked it up, yes, what you say:

 

Prabhupāda: Tattva-darśi, one who has seen the truth, he can enlighten you. This is the process. Otherwise, even Gandhi, Dr. Rādhākrishnan, Vivekānanda, all they have committed mistake. Aurobindo. Aurobindo has understood little to some extent, but not fully. But if we are fortunate enough, then we can understand Krishna very easily. What is that? Krishna says, mattaḥ parataraṁ nānyat kiñcid asti dhanañjaya [Bg. 7.7]. “My dear Dhanañjaya, Arjuna, there is no more superior truth than Me.” So if we accept that, either you say blindly or conscientiously, then that is perfection. Krishna says, bahūnāṁ janmanām ante jñānavān māṁ prapadyate: [Bg. 7.19] “After many, many births of philosophical speculation, when one actually becomes wise, jñānī, jñānavān, full of knowledge, then the result is māṁ prapadyate: he surrenders unto Me.” Why surrender? Now, vāsudevaḥ sarvam iti [Bg. 7.19]he understands that Kṛṣṇa is everything. Sa mahātmā su-durlabhaḥ: “Such mahātmā is very rare.” That I was… we were discussing that there are so many religious system in the world, but hardly they have got any clear conception of God. I have asked so many gentlemen belonging to different types of religion that “What is the clear conception of God?” So may I ask you also what is the clear conception of God?Dr. Movebhed: I prefer to listen to you.

Prabhupāda: But we are speaking the same thing, Bhagavad-gītā. We are not manufacturing anything. Clear conception of God you can take from Arjuna. Arjuna associated with Krishna personally. What he says about Krishna and what he understands about God, that you read from the Tenth Chapter. Paraṁ brahma paraṁ dhāma pavitraṁ paramaṁ bhavān, puruṣaṁ śāśvataṁ divyam [Bg. 10.12].

Nitāi: “Arjuna said: You are the Supreme Brahmān, the ultimate, the supreme abode and purifier, the Absolute Truth and the eternal divine person. You are the primal God, transcendental and original. You are the unborn and the all-pervading beauty. All the great sages such as Nārada, Asita, Devala, and Vyāsa proclaim this of You, and now You Yourself are declaring it to me.”

Prabhupāda: Then? Purport? Next verse?

Nitāi: “O Krishna, I totally accept as truth all that You have told me. Neither the gods nor the demons, O Lord, know Thy personality.”

Prabhupāda: Now here is the Arjuna’s understanding, that “I accept You in total.” Now some rascals are proclaiming that all the Bhagavad-gītās, they are, most of them are interpretation. But Arjuna says that “I accept everything what You have said.” So whom you will accept, Arjuna or some rascal who is speaking that “There are so many interpolation. They can be rejected”? Whom you will accept as authority? Arjuna says that “I accept whatever You have said in toto.” If you accept Arjuna because he has heard from Krishna, then you accept Krishna or you understand Kṛṣṇa.

Dr. Movebhed: I said I think the question you put, the clear concept of Krishna, or God… The God for me is not a conceptual thing. It cannot be subject to concept, and to understand God, you have to identify yourself with the truth, and otherwise it’s not the way to…

Prabhupāda: No, if you accept Krishna as the teacher, authority, just like Arjuna accepted. Arjuna said, śiṣyas te ’haṁ śādhi māṁ prapannam: “Now I accept You as my teacher.” Śiṣya. Śiṣya means disciple. Śiṣyas te aham: “I am Your now disciple. Don’t accept me as Your friend.”

 

 

 

 

Room Conversation

with Yoga Student

His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda

March 14, 1975, Iran

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This isn't a semantic problem. It is a philosophical one. Philosophers and sadhus can't be replaced by lexicographers.
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This is about semantics. Otherwise there is no point in asking the question as anyone can say anything they like. <o:p></o:p>

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… that Vaisnavism is more than than just a teaching…
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how do you know that? The statement you make can be valid only if it is part of a teaching. <o:p></o:p>

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If it is, then it is inconsistent. Surrender to Krsna is contingent upon abandoning sectarianism (dharmas). That would imply that in fact the realization of Vaisnavism depends on abandoning Vaisnavism.
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I can surrender to Krishna by belonging to the Vaishnava sect. I see nothing wrong there and most Vaishnavas would agree with this. <o:p></o:p>

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I can surrender to Krishna by belonging to the Vaishnava sect. I see nothing wrong there and most Vaishnavas would agree with this. <o:p></o:p>

 

I would actually say, that unless you are properly trained within a particular Vaishnava sect (by accepting a guru with a particular lineage, mantras, sadhana, etc.), your chance to learn how to truly surrender to Krishna is next to zero.

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This is about semantics. Otherwise there is no point in asking the question as anyone can say anything they like.

 

Dictionary definitions give bare minimum of understanding. You can't expect to understand Vaisnavism by reading the dictionary. You go to the bona fide teachers - the one's who know.

Do you really not know this? Amazing.

 

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how do you know that? The statement you make can be valid only if it is part of a teaching.

 

Your straw man reflex is healthy I see. I said it wasn't just a teaching.

 

It is a matter of realization as well.

 

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I can surrender to Krishna by belonging to the Vaishnava sect. I see nothing wrong there and most Vaishnavas would agree with this. <o:p></o:p>

Who said there was anything wrong with it?

Krsna gives as a condition for that surrender to abandon all religions (dharmas) which of course woud include sects. So Vaisnavism can hardly be a sect can it?

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I would actually say, that unless you are properly trained within a particular Vaishnava sect (by accepting a guru with a particular lineage, mantras, sadhana, etc.), your chance to learn how to truly surrender to Krishna is next to zero.

 

Agreed. Every traditional Vaishnava system (including Gaudiya Vaishnavas) have a system in place for a Guru/Shishya realtionship and disciplines. Each group has a teaching unique to itself although some parts of it may be common with other groups.

 

I do not see the usage of sect for Vaishnava as bad. But it appears some people have a problem with the word.

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I would actually say, that unless you are properly trained within a particular Vaishnava sect (by accepting a guru with a particular lineage, mantras, sadhana, etc.), your chance to learn how to truly surrender to Krishna is next to zero.

Why does training under a spiritual master have to be in a sect? So one should give up that sect (dharma) in order to surrender as Krsna prescribes.

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Krsna gives as a condition for that surrender to abandon all religions (dharmas) which of course woud include sects. So Vaisnavism can hardly be a sect can it?

 

You do not understand that verse. How many religions did Arjuna have? Think!

 

The various dharmas we are to surrender are our RESPONSIBILITIES AND OBLIGATIONS arising from our particular place in the society and material world in general. That is what Krsna is asking Arjuna to give up.

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You do not understand that verse. How many religions did Arjuna have? Think!

 

The various dharmas we are to surrender are our RESPONSIBILITIES AND OBLIGATIONS arising from our particular place in the society and material world in general. That is what Krsna is asking Arjuna to give up!

Right. So thinking on that, it would certainly include religious sectarian rites and rituals as well. After all religious sects are material.

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Why does training under a spiritual master have to be in a sect? So one should give up that sect (dharma) in order to surrender as Krsna prescribes.
Like I said, you do not understand the verse. All bona fide gurus come in specific disciplic successions. Each sampradaya is essentially a separate sect.

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Krsna gives as a condition for that surrender to abandon all religions (dharmas) which of course woud include sects. So Vaisnavism can hardly be a sect can it?

 

That is not a condition and he certainly did not tell Arjuna to give up religions and sects. That is a silly interpretation of the verse.

 

Here is the dictionary definition of Sect as posted by someone earlier.

Sect - A group of people following a certain teacher or doctrine.

 

Even if you want to take your statement to be true, when you make that statement you are following a doctrine and therefore you are in a sect.

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That is not a condition and he certainly did not tell Arjuna to give up religions and sects. That is a silly interpretation of the verse.

I didn't say that at all. Krsna said to abandon all varieties of religion. The word 'dharma' is used. That must certainly cover religious sects, which after all with the deva-worship etc... are material.

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Like I said, you do not understand the verse. All bona fide gurus come in specific disciplic successions. Each sampradaya is essentially a separate sect.

A sampradaya is a sect? That is highly questionable.

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Right. So thinking on that, it would certainly include religious sectarian rites and rituals as well. After all religious sects are material.

 

willing acceptance of an authorized religious process offered by a particular sampradaya is not considered to be a material responsibility or obligation.

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