Deviant Vaisnava Sects Part Two: Prakrta-sahajiyas

VAISNAVAS, devotees of Lord Krsna, use the term prakrta-sahajiya to refer to persons who imitate the signs of prema, pure love for God, while still addicted to the low-class pleasures of illicit sex and intoxication. The sahajiyas imagine that they feel the divine emotions of Krsna and His dearest devotee, Srimati Radharani. Yet they don’t understand that before we can savor the pleasure shared by Radha and Krsna, we must rid ourselves of lustful desires for sensual pleasure.

The word sahaja means “easy.” A prakrta-sahajiya wants the bliss of spiritual life without the struggle to attain it. And the word prakrta means “materialistic.” Because the sahajiyas forgo the standard disciplines of bhakti-yoga, the divine love they apparently show never gets beyond material lust.

The prakrta-sahajiyas mistake lust—the disease of the soul—for spiritual advancement. So instead of curing lust, they wind up cultivating it. Bhagavad-gita (16.23-24) recommends that we follow sastra-vidhi, the directions of the scriptures, to purify ourselves of lust. Sastra-vidhi especially calls for us to give up meat-eating, illicit sex, gambling, and intoxication and to chant the Hare Krsna mahamantra. read more

Deviant Vaisnava Sects Part One: Caste Gosvamis and Smarta-brahmanas

From time to time a devotee of Krsna is faced with touchy questions about the shadow side of his religion. “Is it true there are gurus in West Bengal who do dope when they chant Hare Krsna?” Or, “What about that place in West Virginia where they mix Krsna, Christ, New Age, and everything else?”

It’s best to keep a broad historical perspective when considering this problem. Hybrid versions of Krsna worship, or even downright perversions of it, are nothing new. They all tend to fit a pattern laid down long ago in India by thirteen deviant sects known as apasampradayas.

But before looking at the deviants, one should understand the correct culture of Krsna consciousness. Fashionable or not, there is a definite standard of spiritual life. It is called sampradaya. read more