Unspoken Obstacles on the Path of Bhakti by Purnacandra Goswami – book review from 2004

Purnacandra Goswami talks in his book about some unspoken obstacles, or impediments, on the path to  bhakti. Some of them, like institutionalism and lack of freedom, may exist in any religious organization, but being  subtle and difficult to spot, they are often not discussed. Although not a sociologist, but a practitioner of  bhakti-yoga  in the International Society for Krsna consciousness (ISKCON) for over 26 years, the author makes relevant philosophical and sociological observations. He speaks mainly to the ISKCON audience, but the principles he discusses apply to any religious institution. The book can be of  interest to those Vaishnavas concerned with building a better ISKCON, and especially to those, the author gives tools and practical hints how to bring about changes they want to see.

Purnacandra Goswami begins with the philosophical definition of pure  devotional service (bhakti)  from the Srila Rupa Goswami’s sixteenth-century book on bhakti, Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu. Srila Rupa Goswami describes pure bhakti as an activity performed favorably intending to please the Lord without any selfish motivation for knowledge (jnana), or any desire for personal enjoyment (karma).

Bhakti awakens in the company of others. To mature and give ripened fruits it should grow freely, without obstructions. As bhakti is free, the practitioner and the surroundings must also be free. Since love requires trust and free will, it cannot be enforced upon anybody. In this atmosphere of freedom, a person can develop feelings of deep affection for the Lord.
 

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