When I first got introduced to Krishna Consciousness, I thought this is the only path that can solve all problems (both material and spiritual) of human kind (in fact all living kinds). This preliminary faith was shaken as I started to encounter negative stories about ISKCON as an organization. I was having doubts on how devotees should behave and were behaving as I perceived it? I saw practical discrepancies in devotee behavior in relation to my preconceived notions of life as a whole and my then understanding of Krishna Con philosophy. All these thoughts disturbed me and caused me to question my own internal faith on Krishna Consciousness as a philosophy. I justified these thoughts as idiosyncratic devotee behavior or ISKCON behavior more than anything although internally I wanted to find scriptural evidence to rather gross material exhibition by so-called spiritual adherents.
As I started to involve more in Krishna Con activities, I was maturing as a person and as an aspiring devotee. I was starting to appreciate the illusory power of Maya for what it is and the need to surrender to Guru, shastra and Krishna as the panacea. In other words, there is a lot of grey area from becoming a non to aspiring to pure devotee. All have to make that journey from complete rebel to pure consciousness ultimately traversing the treacherous journey of crossing the three modes of material nature. While I inferred this conclusion based on my own experience as a person, devotee and generic scriptural reference, I could not find a text that directly talks about devotees and their attitude when in contact with the modes of material nature. All problems we face in society and also within ISKCON as an organization and between devotees are because of our attachment with the body and mind which are ultimately under the control of the three modes of material nature. Although we are aspiring to be devotees, this law applies to us as well as long as we are in the contaminated state of the modes of nature.
Below are direct references from the Bhagavatam on different devotees in the modes and what character that devotee exhibits. Personally, now I have shastric background to show that even though one may engage in devotional service in the form of a devotee, still we are influenced by the modes thus making us vulnerable to quarrel and hypocrisy. The degree of quarrel and hypocrisy depends on our association with that particular mode. So going forward, this will ease my agitated mind whenever I see a devotee or ISKCON behaving in ways non-congruent with spiritual values. After all…most of us are still in the journey of crossing the modes of nature towards the blue bodied lotus eyed personality – Sri Krishna.
Please read texts below.
Devotional service executed by a person who is envious, proud, violent and angry, and who is a separatist, is considered to be in the mode of darkness. – SB 3.29.8
The worship of Deities in the temple by a separatist, with a motive for material enjoyment, fame and opulence, is devotion in the mode of passion. – SB 3.29.9
When a devotee worships the Supreme Personality of Godhead and offers the results of his activities in order to free himself from the inebrieties of fruitive activities, his devotion is in the mode of goodness. – SB 3.29.10
The manifestation of unadulterated devotional service is exhibited when one's mind is at once attracted to hearing the transcendental name and qualities of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is residing in everyone's heart. Just as the water of the Ganges flows naturally down towards the ocean, such devotional ecstasy, uninterrupted by any material condition, flows towards the Supreme Lord. – SB 3.29-11
Srila Prabhupada writes in his purport “The word "separatist" must be understood carefully. The Sanskrit words in this connection are bhinna-dṛk and pṛthag-bhāvaḥ. A separatist is one who sees his interest as separate from that of the Supreme Lord. Mixed devotees, or devotees in the modes of passion and ignorance, think that the interest of the Supreme Lord is supplying the orders of the devotee; the interest of such devotees is to draw from the Lord as much as possible for their sense gratification. This is the separatist mentality. Actually, pure devotion is explained in the previous chapter: the mind of the Supreme Lord and the mind of the devotee should be dovetailed. A devotee should not wish anything but to execute the desire of the Supreme. That is oneness. When the devotee has an interest or will different from the interest of the Supreme Lord, his mentality is that of a separatist. When the so-called devotee desires material enjoyment, without reference to the interest of the Supreme Lord, or he wants to become famous or opulent by utilizing the mercy or grace of the Supreme Lord, he is in the mode of passion”