A Contradiction

In The Bhagavat, Its Philosophy, Ethics and Theology, Bhaktivinode Thakur says, “Liberty then is the principle, which we must consider as the most valuable gift of God. We must not allow ourselves to be led by those who lived and thought before us. We must think for ourselves and try to get further truths which are still undiscovered. In the Bhagavat we have been advised to take the spirit of the shastras and not the words. The Bhagavat is, therefore, a religion of liberty, unmixed truth, and absolute love.”

This is how I practice my faith. Bhaktivinode was a 19th century, British educated magistrate. He was trained to hear the testimony, view the evidence and draw a conclusion as to what the truth of the matter is. He approached spiritual truth in the same way, studying various religions and philosophies, both Eastern and Western. He concluded the teachings of the Bhagavat were the best, but he also found errors in it and the writings of its most revered commentators. He trusted himself, his intelligence and natural intuition to guide him. He sometimes broke with tradition and took controversial stands.

Yet, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami and his followers claim to be in Bhaktivinode’s disciplic succession, but they claim to present an absolute, unadulterated, divinely revealed truth that has been handed down from the beginning of time through this disciplic succession and it can never be changed or questioned. How is this possible?

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