Even a Coat-rack Does Service! (07/02/11)
Dear K______ Swami,
Your email received and noted carefully. I have not forwarded your email or shared its contents with anyone. However, here is where i have a different stance. You write:
“My instructions to V_____ have actually been – Narasingha Maharaja is an elevated vaisnava and must be given all respect. Don’t actively participate in arranging for any programs such as
cooking,etc. , for the sake of keeping a good relationship with the local ISKCON authorities -There is no problem in being present for the programs”
In my way of thinking, to give an instruction such as “Narasingha Mahārāja is an elevated Vaiṣṇava and must be given all respect”, yet not allow V_____ to serve at our programs, is an oxymoron.
Tad viddhi praṇipātena paripraśnena sevayā — “Try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service.” (Bhagavad-gītā As It Is, 4.34)
Do you see my point? How V___ can be instructed that it is ‘OK’ to hear my classes, etc., but she is not allowed to do any service? Please excuse me here, but this instruction seems impossible to carry forward.
This manner of ” keeping a good relationship with the local ISKCON authorities” is certain to burn down the house of L__ sooner or later. V_____ would feel like a lump of salt or a pillar of stone at our programs if she is not allowed to serve. She would have to sit and hear from me all day or just stand around in the hallway like a coat-rack. But then even a ‘coat-rack’ does some service so whats the point? How would she be able to smile, have affectionate dealings and share in Vaiṣṇava relationships?
“Offering gifts and accepting gifts, revealing one’s mind in confidence and inquiring confidentially, accepting prasada and offering prasāda – these are the six symptoms of love shared by the devotees.” (Upadeśāmrta 4)
I preferred to see you make the decision in favor of V____ being able to freely attend our programs, to do service and associate with our devotees without any encumbrance. That would have been a simple ideal to maintain always.
Why the neophyte authorities of the ISCON Czech National Council have to be pacified, I cannot fathom. But you have your reasoning — mine is different. What we are really talking about here is “Society consciousness vs Kṛṣṇa consciousness” and “Guru — Relative or Absolute”.
If you are to instruct V___ as you have above mentioned and cannot instruct her as we have requested, then seeing that there can be no peace in the house of L__ and V__, I will now change my tone of instruction to L___ in this way:
I shall now instruct L___ that if V___ is not allowed to serve and associate freely at our programs, then it is not a good idea that there be two gurus in their household. L__ will probably not budge from his position as my disciple. Therefore, I will be forced to tell him that if his wife is taking initiation from you that will certainly be great anxiety in their home. Thusly he should strongly discourage his wife from making that decision. And to V___ I think the reasoning will be obvious.
But if they decide differently then so be it.
So that is the short and sweet of it. Now lets see what happens next.