There are two parts to religion, the regulative or exoteric path and the intuitive or esoteric path. This permeates virtually the whole gamut of religions existing today. Even in Krishna Consciousness, we find two types of bhakti described: vaidhi bhakti (or systematic execution of bhakti-yoga according to specific procedures) and raga-nuga bhakti (which arises more out of spontaneity). These dual paths exist because one needs to realize both God’s law and God’s love to be able to advance spiritually. Now those who believe only in God’s law will go about the world championing their own religions often persecuting other cultures and wreaking much damage as they go along.
Love is the only path which can preclude the excesses of religion. Throughout all religions one can experience two phenomena: self-expansion and self-contraction. If one is constantly experiencing contraction and repression, his beliefs will bounce back on him as he ignores that, in striking the right balance in his life lies the answer to this conundrum. Often we find that a path is no longer suitable for a person and he has to choose another path. In actual fact, the path chooses the person and not vice-versa.
Now concerning the ravages of religions all over the world, we often see that pure religious principles are often adulterated by antagonistic and fear-mongering sects. Such a thing has occurred in almost all religions, where the essence of the teachings has been watered down to such an extent that there is nothing as such in those teachings that feed the soul and nourish the human psyche. In the absence of these, the excesses of religion find their way all too easily to the foreplay. This is an important point to consider and one that is often waived by practitioners.
Much of the religious praxis is clouded by blind faith in the absence of a proper spirit of inquiry. Adi Sankaracharya said that it is important to tread both the path of enlightenment and the path of illusion to be able to realise truth. These two paths operate in perfect tango until one reaches the Absolute platform. So one’s ignorance which is the cause of all forms of infliction of suffering isn’t immediately dispelled and hence one has to lead a balanced life as well. Often we find that the lives of hard core religionists are stunted by some kind of out-of-balance behaviour which smacks of the hypocrisy with which they are practising their faith.
In such instances, we encounter narrow-mindedness, repression of personality, abuse of women, and even child abuse. The yin-yang of religion is also exemplified in the fact that much of religion has been patriarchal so far and it needs to be balanced by the feminine, matriarchal religions. In all faiths there exists the worship of the feminine counterpart of God and when this is ignored we find individuals that are completely out-of-balance with their own very selves. In Krishna Consciousness, even more importance is attributed to the feminine Consort of Sri Krishna viz Srimati Radharani and She is the one who gives the seeker exclusive entrance into the secrets of bhakti. Her anathema, Maya, is the aspect of God which chastises us for our misgivings and blunders, commonly depicted as sins.
The law of Karma is an Absolute principle which applies on all levels of existence. It’s the only law in effect which ensures universal balance and evolution of the cosmos. It is something here to teach us and no one who has transgressed the principles of rightful behaviour or Dharma can escape the consequences of Karma. Hence, it is important to realize that those who kill in the name of religion are the greatest sinners themselves.
By Krishna Leela Prakash ©