A Suggested Letter for the Vaiṣṇvaa Relations Committee (01/14/06)
Daṉḍavats G______ Swami,
All glories to Śrīla Prabhupāda.
The following is a draft of what I think would be along the lines of an appropriate letter to send out to selected devotees to inform them;
1) of the recent official formation of the Vaiṣṇava Relations Committee,
2) to give them an example of what type of Vaiṣṇava relations the VRC intends to engage in and
3) to invite them to be observers or contributing participants in our discussions.
I am doing this just to help you get the ball rolling. Remember, I am not a ‘committee member’ of the VRC. I am a VRC forum (participant) member.
Let me know what you think about the suggested letter below.
Swami B.G. Narasingha
Dear (put individual devotee’s name here),
Please accept our humble obeisances. All glories to Śrīla Prabhupāda.
We wish to inform you that the previously ad hawk Vaiṣṇava Relations Committee (VRC) has recently become a standing committee to establish a conduit of communications with Vaiṣṇavas outside of ISKCON and particularly with Vaiṣṇavas outside ISKCON who are initiated disciples of Śrīla Prabhupāda but who are at present disenfranchised from ISKCON for one reason or another.
The fundamental purpose of the VRC is that this relations committee will be able to bridge the gap between ISKCON and the extended/alternative Vaiṣṇava community outside the formal ISKCON. As such a relationship or atmosphere of
harmony and possibly co-operation may be established between ISKCON and other Vaiṣṇava institutions, communities, or individuals. At a minimum the VRC sincerely feels that dialogue with other Vaiṣṇavas outside of ISKCON will help to reduce the potential of unnecessary hostilities between Vaiṣṇava communities and thus minimize potential offensive and unhealthy mentalities.
On a positive note the VRC seeks to share with other Vaiṣṇavas outside of ISKCON the teachings and preaching inspiration with which Śrīla Prabhupāda has empowered ISKCON. The VRC will also examine the possible contributions and knowledge that other bona fide Vaiṣṇavas may like to share with the leaders of ISKCON.
It should go without mention that the VRC will indeed be examining some controversial issues between Vaiṣṇavas and particularly it will seek to examine some of the criticisms or constructive criticisms that Vaiṣṇavas outside ISKCON may have of the present situation in ISKCON in terms of ISKCON’s position of being the foremost preaching institution of Lord Caitanya’s saṅkīrtana movement in the world.
An example of one of the topics that the VRC will examine is as follows:
Two of our committee members (J_____ Swami and G_____ Swami) recently met with Swami B.G. Narasingha (a sannyāsī disciple of Śrīla Prabhupāda also known to many of you as Jagatguru Swami) to discuss the objectives of the VRC. Narasingha Mahārāja (who is outside of ISKCON) raised a constructive criticism that at present, although not being directly published by the BBT, there are nonetheless at least two sahajiyā books that have been independently published by ISKCON devotees and are being read and circulated to ISKCON devotees around the world. Mahārāja says these two books are ‘Advaita-Prakāśa’ and ‘Nityānanda Caritāmṛta.’ Narasingha Mahārāja’s constructive criticism on this point is that if on one hand ISKCON’s profile is that of the leading institution in Lord Caitanya’s saṅkīrtana movement, but at the same time ISKCON turns a blind eye and allows its members to independently publish and circulate known sahajiyā literature that in the eyes of the extended Vaiṣṇava community this diminishes the dignity of Śrīla Prabhupāda and the dignity of his ISKCON movement. One of Narasingha Mahārāja’s points was that all eyes are on ISKCON and our vulnerability to sahajiyā literature does not look good, nor is it a healthy sign for the future spiritual generations of ISKCON.
The VRC is going to examine the criticisms of Narasingha Mahārāja on the topic of bona fide Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava literature and discuss that topic with him through a VRC email forum, the VRCF.
That example having been briefly explained here our committee members would like to seek your participation as either an observing or a contributing member to the Vaiṣṇava Relations Committee Forum (VRCF). It is our intention
that only established, responsible, and mature devotees will be eligible for the VRCF (primarily Śrīla Prabhupāda’s disciples although not exclusive of such).
If you choose to accept our humble request to be included on the forum (VRCF) then kindly reply to this email and we will add your name to our growing list and keep you informed of the upcoming developments.
Hoping this meets you well.
(Put name of VRC chairman here - whoever that is?)