In an article recently posted on a website, by Sanaka Rsi Das, Bhakti Vikas Maharaj Comments on the ‘Cost of Silence’ the following paragraph appears:
My understanding is that raising children with fear is not conducive to developing healthy Krsna conscious devotees. On the contrary, we aspire for fearlessness in the shelter of the lotus feet of the Lord. Srila Prabhupada has gone to great lengths to explains that Krsna Consciousness IS NOT an artificial imposition. How exactly do you see fear as a desirable element in education? Your opinion that it is advisable to use corporal punishment in the education of children is opposed to the essence of Srila Prabhupada’s instructions on education.
There have been more exchanges after the article above was posted on the subject of corporal punishment.It is true that Krsna consciousness is not an artificial imposition but we find that to awaken Krsna consciousness in the beginning stages there is an element of fear needed. Why is fear needed initially? This is because we are driven by the modes and are on a sensual level and not an intellectual level. Even if we understand the philosophy we are still impelled to sin. Arjuna asked Krsna why the conditioned soul is driven to sin and Krsna replied that it was due to the sense gratificatory propensity (BG 3.36-7). So fear helps to keep us in Krsna consciousness and away from sense gratification. We keep reminding each other that we have to attain love of god or remain in the cycle of birth and death and so out of fear of remaining in the material world we are motivated to perform sadhana with renewed vigor.
Even our preaching is directed to some extent in a way as to instill fear by informing people of the horrors of birth, death old-age and disease and the existence of the Yamaduttas. I know a disciple of Srila Prabhupada who joined the movement in America right in the beginning at around age 18yrs as a brahmacari, and whothen later on took sannyasa. When asked how he remained a renunciant for so many years, he replied it was because he was ‘scared to death of maya’. Of course we could also see that he was relishing his relation with Krsna and thus had a higher taste also but he mentioned that the fear of maya kept him steadfast in his vows.
Fear helps to maintain civility in society
In a more recent article written by Sanaka Rsi Das on this topic titled; In Response to Bhakti Vikasa Swami, he says
While I agree with the first part of your statement, “Thus both state and religion invoke fear for the betterment of their wards.” I don’t share your conclusion. The intention in invoking fear in citizens is seldom as noble as you make out. More often than not, fear is just an expedient used by religious and secular authorities to control, exploit and manipulate the masses.
Why do we then find that every city and state in the world maintains a police or military force? It is because punishment and the threat of punishment are actually what makes civil society possible.
Lord Manu in Manu-smriti explains this point:
7.18. Punishment alone governs all created beings, punishment alone protects them, punishment watches over them while they sleep; the wise declare punishment (to be identical with) the law.
7.19. If (punishment) is properly inflicted after (due) consideration, it makes all people happy; but inflicted without consideration, it destroys everything.
7.20. If the king did not, without tiring, inflict punishment on those worthy to be punished, the stronger would roast the weaker, like fish on a spit;
7.21. The crow would eat the sacrificial cake and the dog would lick the sacrificial viands, and ownership would not remain with any one, the lower ones would (usurp the place of) the higher ones.
7.22. The whole world is kept in order by punishment, for a guiltless man is hard to find; through fear of punishment the whole world yields the enjoyments (which it owes).
Recently in a country in South America that has been experiencing social unrest there has been a lapse in security due to widespread demonstrations on the street and this led to widespread looting. Most people regardless of whether they are devotees or not will agree with Manu’s reasoning above.
A lot of ISKCON’s members from the West are still enamored with western ideals and societal norms such as feminism and liberal humanism, even though we are supposed to be Vedic in our outlook now since we have joined the Brahma-Madhava -Gaudiya Sampradaya and are supposed to follow the previous acaryas. Thus they repeatedly base their answers on psychology, self-help specialists and other western sources. So for those who still want to identify in such a way we also present a biblical quote which has entered normal English usage: Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child;
He that spareth the rod hateth his own son but he that loveth him correcteth him betimes/Withhold not correction from a child: for if thou strike him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and deliver his soul from hell.
Proverbs 13:24, King James Version
The quote above says that if one neglects to administer corporal punishment when required then he is displaying hate for his son but doing so shows his love for him and will ‘deliver him (the son) from hell’. The same reasoning here can be applied to other forms of wards besides sons.
Fear of God, then Love of God
In normal society the expression; ‘god-fearing man’ is actually a compliment. In lower levels of religion we see that the fear factor keeps followers in obedience to the will of god as substantiated by their scriptures. There are graphic descriptions of hell and how people in the past suffered for not submitting to god. One may say that in Krsna consciousness that should not be so, but for sadhakas and for any devotee not fully on the Prema level it is necessary. Fear is good as it means that you respect Krsna. We find in Srimad Bhagavatam:
“It is because of My supremacy that the wind blows, out of fear of Me; the sun shines out of fear of Me, and the lord of the clouds, Indra, sends forth showers out of fear of Me. Fire burns out of fear of Me, and death goes about taking its toll out of fear of Me.”
>>> Ref. VedaBase => SB 3.25.42
Fear leads to respect of and obedience to god. Sadhaka bhaktas worship in dasya rasa and in some sampradayas bhakti refers to only dasya rasa. Dasya rasa means that one worships god with an element of fear.
As long as loving service is rendered to the Lord in the master-servant relationship, there is some fear, for the servant is always afraid of the master, despite the intimacy of self-interest. In this stage the servant is always afraid of the master and respectful of Him. When the devotee is further advanced, he has nothing to fear.
>>> Ref. VedaBase => Madhya 8.74
After a prolonged period of practicing devotional service we become more purified and are attracted to Krsna and thus begin to serve Him out of love.
Using fear to awaken Krsna consciousness
Many ISKCON devotees speak of the many qualities of Srila Prabhupada such as his compassion, love and caring nature. But few devotees speak of his transcendental anger manifested out of compassion to correct his disciples. Whereas it is true that many devotees who closely associated and served Srila Prabhupada were driven by love for him it is also true that they were motivated to do their best to serve as they did not want to experience his transcendental anger which would bring some of his grown men disciples to tears. Similarly in any brahmacari asram or sankirtan (book distribution) party the leader has to be heavy and thus things go on smoothly out of fear of him. The same case applies in a school or gurukula. Even if there is an attraction to Krsna consciousness or desire to serve the guru, the tendency of conditioned jivas is to avoid Krsna and go for sense gratification so there has to be a force to repel that desire and keep them in proper sadhana and the force used is fear. Of course the anger doesn’t have to be real it could just be faked. Again, in due course of time when the person advances in Krsna consciousness then there will be no need for the ‘fear impetus’ for helping them to maintain good sadhana.