From Our Side of the Fence…(07/14/07)
Daṇḍavats H_______ Dāsa Gosvāmī,
“As I stated in the very first statement of my letter, I recognize that certain ISKCON devotees offended Śrīdhara Mahārāja. I abhor those offenses and deeply regret them. At the same time, I seek a general principle by which we may say that in all cases individual offenses expand to a community.”
From our side of the fence a term was coined some years ago that indicates the involvement of many in the actions of a few offenders. The term is “institutionalized aparādha”.
The idea of a general principle in which we may say that in all cases individual offenses expand to a community comes from the following verses from Caitanya-bhāgavata and Caitanya-caritāmṛta:
sannyāsī-sabhāya yadi haya nindā-karma
madyapera sabhā haite se sabhā adharma
madyapera niṣkṛti āchaye kona-kāle
paracarccakera gati nahe kabhu bhāle
“If an assembly of sannyasis indulges in blasphemy, then that assembly is more sinful than an assembly of drunkards. However, a drunkard will be delivered in due course of time, but one who engages in blasphemy will never attain the goal of life.” (Caitanya-bhāgavata. Madhya-khaṇḍa 13.42-43)
mahāntera apamāna ye deśa-grāme haya
eka janāra doṣe saba deśa ujāḍaya
“Wherever an advanced devotee is insulted, for one man’s fault the entire town or place is afflicted.” (Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Antya-līlā 3.164)
I think this last verse totally qualifies what T____ Mahārāja has said about offenses to Śrīdhara Mahārāja expanding unilaterally in ISKCON.
As far as I understand, the only way not to be implicated in an offense is to oppose the offense by argument, to leave that place, or to give up one’s life. To date, most of us have opted for options one and two.
“I have often seen Śrīdhara Mahārāja’s books for sale in ISKCON temple stores, and so I think the situation in ISKCON is not hopeless.”
Yes, we have also seen this, but not necessarily as a good sign. We tend to see the unauthorized sale of Śrīdhara Mahārāja’s books in certain ISKCON centers as a sign of anarchy. ISKCON Law (# 184.108.40.206) clearly prohibits any outside influence in ISKCON such as reading books of Śrīdhara Mahārāja, etc (see law below). When the laws of the institution are flaunted it means anarchy and it is not pleasant to see anarchy in ISKCON. We do not think that anarchy in Prabhupāda’s movement is a good sign or that it would please him.
(ISKCON Law # 12.5.9,1)
A: In obedience to the instruction of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda, the GBC directs that the members of ISKCON should respect all senior Gaudiya Vaishnavas outside iskcon, but should not intimately associate with them, personally or through printed or recorded media, for guidance, teaching, instruction, or initiation as their presentation of Kṛṣṇa consciousness often differs from that of Śrīla Prabhupāda in emphasis, balance and other aspects of both teaching and practice.
B: This resolution is intended to apply categorically to all ISKCON members. ISKCON leaders’ first responsibility is to give considerate direction, guidance, and counseling to any ISKCON devotees personally affected by this resolution so as to bring them back to the path set by Śrīla Prabhupāda. In any case, those who continue to act in violation of this resolution are subject to sanctions by temple presidents and GBC zonal secretaries, who may exercise their discretion to prohibit any such devotees from living on ISKCON properties or participating in ISKCON functions. Those who persist in violating this resolution are cautioned they may be reported to the GBC Executive Committee for immediate action or action at the following year’s annual GBC meeting. The Executive Committee is hereby given authority to suspend any violator from ISKCON.
“I suggest we go into mediation open-minded, humbly searching for the most objective account of the history, and then act based on that history. I have several times mentioned in my letters that I am keeping an open mind. It would be nice if others did the same.”
Open mindedness with regards to the above is a virtue that may serve our purpose well.
PS: Please excuse me for having invited myself into this conversation. If I am a hinderance in achieving your goals simply say so and I will withdraw.