Cult Mentality & Religious Fanaticism: Q&A with Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda

Is there such a thing as religious fanaticism? We always hear people talking about “religious fanaticism.” The two terms contradict. Analyze the two terms - fanaticism and religion. What’s the central characteristic of fanaticism?



Fanaticism means “force,” and what does ”religion” mean? Unfortunately, very few people actually know what religion means. They think religion is something you join or something you quit. They think religion is a type of label that you put on, or a new type of clothes that you wear or new declaration of dependence. They think religion means changing your labels. For example, a person becomes a Christian after having been a Hindu, or he becomes a Muslim after having been a Christian. “He changed his religion.” That’s not religion.

Religion is that eternal aspect of the self which cannot be changed, and that is the self’s relationship with God. You are an eternal individual spark of God, you are eternally His servant and you are meant to be engaged in His loving service. Loving service. Religion means loving service to God. Love for God.

Jesus Christ mentions it as being his first and foremost commandment to achieve such real religion. Jesus never said declare your dependence on me; declare your allegiance to me. Rather, he said, ”In the last days there will be those who declare, ‘Lord! Lord! Did we not cast out devils in your name? Did we not heal the sick in your name? Did we not prophesize in your name?’ And Jesus says, ’I will say, get away from me, you workers of iniquity!’” Why? "Because you failed to do the will of my father."

So Jesus is saying that real religion, really being his follower, is not just declaring your allegiance and it’s not just feeling some sentiment, but it’s love. Real love means action based upon that love. Loving service to the Supreme Lord. Loving service to the Supreme Person who is all-lovable.

Different so-called religious paths are meant to bring a person to this religious condition. Do you understand this? Religion is love for God. And if a particular path helps a person come to the point of love for God, then that is a good path because it leads to religion, real religion. So the lover of God is the religious person. He’s immersed in love for God. And if his love for God is perfect, it’s pure, it’s all expansive, then, to all the children of God.

Just like this tree here. This tree has roots. We’re sitting on its roots here, okay? If you love God, it’s like actually putting water on the root of a tree. And the leaves can be compared to the living entities, the sparks of God. If you’re loving God, then it will expand to the entire tree of God, which includes its leaves, the living entities.

Therefore, Jesus says that his second commandment is like unto the first. It’s not separate from it. It’s connected to it. If your love for God is perfect, then your love will also expand to all of His children. Just like if you love me and I’ve got children, you’ll love my children, okay? It’s automatic. You don’t need to try to love the kids separately. If you love the mother and the father, then oh, you’re feeling love for the children also. It’s a family. It’s wonderful. This is love for God and all living entities. This is real religion, not fanaticism.

What is fanaticism based on? Force! These two words. Let’s look at these two words. You’ve got fanaticism and you’ve got real religion, which is love for God and all living beings. How can you have the two together? How can they actually go together as one word, a religious fanatic or religious fanaticism? They don’t go together as one word because they’re contradictory, they’re opposites. They’re diametrically opposed. Why?

PERSON IN AUDIENCE: Because fanaticism is based on force and real religion is based on freedom which is love. Love is freedom.

JAGAD GURU: Love for God means freedom. Love is based on freedom, not force. The fanatic comes up and chokes you and says, "Love God! Love God! Surrender!”
“Surrender to God! Alright?”

In the Bhavagad Gita, it says surrender to God. In the Bible, it says to surrender to God. But surrender to God doesn’t mean, "Surrender to God! Surrender to God!" Choking the guy. But he’s thinking like that. He’s thinking surrender means like that. It’s his idea of surrender to God. “Surrender by force or I’ll kill you.” He doesn’t understand surrender means love.

Let’s say a young girl surrenders her heart to her boyfriend. Then she surrenders her mind and then her body, okay? She surrenders to him. Not force. And the opposite of that would be rape, okay? A young man comes up to the same girl. She’s just previously surrendered her heart, her mind, her body to her boyfriend. She’s walking home and somebody attacks her and rapes her saying, "Surrender, surrender," and he’s got a knife on her throat. There is also surrender there but they’re completely different, aren’t they? One is voluntary, it’s based on love. That’s the difference. Love means that I am doing it. I’m doing it. I am giving, not that it’s being taken from me. I am giving. Not that somebody can come up and take my heart and give it to God or that somebody can, by force, make me love someone.

If they knew what real religion is they would know what real love is because the two are the same, they’re identical. And they would know that because religion means love and love is based on individual free choice. That I love, not even for a reason. Not even that I decided to love God, that He just captured my heart. It’s not even a conscious decision to love God. I may make a conscious decision that I want to come to the point of loving God and that I can direct my life in such a way so I can try to cultivate my love or increase that love or try to make it so that that flame of love grows, but I can’t actually make myself love God. Okay? This is important to know.

Now a so-called fanatic doesn’t know this. So although he’s called religious, in fact he doesn’t know what religion is. And this is what is so astounding, because most people think that the so-called fanatic is the really religious person. They think of the fanatic as the person who’s really serious about religion. They think the fanatic, the one who’s nuts, is somehow the one that’s closest to God, for some reason; that he really is into God. But in fact, the fact that he is a fanatic is a symptom that he’s not anywhere near God. He doesn’t have love for God. He doesn’t know God. He doesn’t have any knowledge of the laws of spiritual love. This is fanaticism. A fanatic is not a knower of God or a lover of God or a knower or lover of anyone. Do you understand this?

So because the terms ”fanatic” and ”religion” are contradictory, therefore there is no possibility of there really being a religious fanatic. Stop thinking of a religious fanatic as being a person who is really religious, because a person who is actually religious is not a person who will try to go against the laws of spiritual love. One of the primary laws of spiritual love is freedom. Individual free choice. They understand fully that surrender to God means that an individual makes the free choice to serve God; that an individual makes a choice to love God.

An individual makes this choice. He gives his heart freely. He gives his life. This is the vision of a person who really understands, or is immersed in, spiritual love, real religion. Those who are so-called religious fanatics are not really religious. There’s no possibility of there being a religious fanatic.