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Ritual Frame And Its Vulnerability

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Chapter Summary

The religious or ritual frame protecting the devotional perceptions of the guru is extremely vulnerable. The nature of the religious representations concerning Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda is analysed by looking into the characteristic failures of real life to conform to the religious frame, and the attempts of the devotees to suppress "wrong" interpretations. This chapter reviews evidence concerning situations that might be interpreted as counter-evidence to Prabhupāda's charismatic qualities. The devotees were exhorted to reveal their minds to him honestly and sincerely. A "faithless" conclusion may therefore be reached that Prabhupāda's mind and capacities of knowledge were quite ordinary after all. The devotees also saw various forms of illness taking hold of their spiritual master. Despite promises of control over death itself, Prabhupāda died, for many devotees at least, prematurely. Old age, sickness and death, the primary signs of material existence, were predictably challenging events for the devotees to properly understand.

Keywords:Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda; guru; ritual frame; spiritual master; vulnerability

10.1163/ej.9789004166134.i-234.51
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