Just casually throwing the word “brainwashed” on a devotee is an escape route from trying to understand their mission for achieving the higher purpose of life. A rational analysis of the reality reveals that ‘brainwashing’ is rather a grossly misused term for deriding or demeaning an individual’s rightful independence to choose his way of life.
The Misconception: People accuse that the youngsters join Krishna consciousness movement because they’ve been brainwashed. They’ve been viciously programmed to gain some mysterious strength and shun all the worldliness. How else can they explain why the younger generation became immersed in the spiritual life that seems so alien to their previous, more socially acceptable lives?
Orthodox Mindset: The moment one is born, the undercover conspiracy of brainwashing in the name of education is started by relatives, schools, media, society, etc. The person is systematically programmed to think in terms of family, career, religion, society, nation and the popular trends. These run of the mill ideas are imposed upon him and his freewill to think and act as an independent human being is murdered. We never blame the television commercials for brainwashing the buyer, the Government for brainwashing the soldiers to kill enemies mercilessly or the social media for brainwashing the youngsters to indulge in untoward activities.
Breaking the Barrier: When an individual attempts to break away from the orthodox brainwashing and chooses a path less traversed, there is a widespread emotional upheaval in the society. There is a serious lack in the social mindset towards accepting the unconventional paths and norms, the individual’s freedom to pursue his passion, and towards breaking away from the running mill. The followers of Krishna consciousness movement are upstarts or sectarians, rather they follow the age old traditional path of spirituality. It is not untraditional… it is just unconventional. In 1977, a case was filed in Supreme Court of New York challenging the authenticity of the Krishna consciousness movement. Upon examining thoroughly, the judge gave the verdict, proclaiming this religious path as age-old &bona-fide.
Scientific View: Scientists term brainwashing as an “untestable hypothesis”. Calling a devotee brainwashed is non-scientific, as it ignores research-based explanations for human behavior. Such false accusation denies their human standing by quashing their free will to practice their choice of faith, for which there is full freedom on constitutional and humanitarian grounds.
The Truth: People accuse the spiritual institutions of brainwashing youngsters & converting them into ‘sadhus’ but essentially brainwashing tries to steal one’s intelligence & makes him act merely as a programmed robot. The path of spirituality is not dogmatic, rather it is based on relevant inquiries, seeking their rational answers and getting willfully convinced. As we see in Bhagavad-gita that Arjuna inquires, Lord Krishna answers to his satisfaction and finally leaves the decision to him saying, “yathe icchasi tatha kuru”: Deliberate deeply on this & decide what you want to do.
All Questions Answered: The modern education system teaches one not to think by himself but to just swallow the dogma given. The school of spirituality as per the Vedic tradition has a profound system of education that encourages questioning & seeking answers. Then it opens up diverse channels for an individual to choose from, based on one’s inclination, capability and convenience. This ‘all-inviting’ and ‘all-accommodating’ standpoint of the Vedic spirituality is a resolute evidence that there’s no brainwashing, rather it is an open-minded invitation for one to come and live his spiritual passion.
Disagreement in opinion cannot become the basis for calling someone ‘brainwashed’; nor can traversing an unconventional path, living one’s passion or seeking a serene and happy life be.