It May Be That I Have No Qualification to Be Guru… (11/05/06)
Dear M_____ Prabhu,
Hare Kṛṣṇa. Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Śrīla Prabhupāda.
Nice to hear from you. I have often remembered you and I have often spoken of you to the devotees.
You may remember our earlier years together in Denver Yatra. I very much relished your association and firm commitment to the distribution of Prabhupāda’s literature. One incident is always to be remembered by us. As saṅkīrtana leader, we were traveling with several devotees. In those days, we remained in devotee garb when distributing literature and chanting. It was somewhere in the mid west, a red neck town. As we had finished our service and were heading to the highway, a group of angry men blocked our entrance to the highway. They emerged from their car with baseball bats. One man had managed to hit P___ Prabhu square in the chin, while in the drivers seat. Immediately you became like Narasiṅgha! You ordered all devotees out of the van and into battle! Your eyes were red with anger and you had chains in your hands swinging them at the foolish attackers. One was hit by you. The others, in great fear of you, quickly got back in their car and left the scene, thus unblocking our entrance to the highway. Seeing this, you shouted, ” All devotees back in the van!” We sped off with great delight, thinking only of Lord Caitanya and His Associates, and the mercy of saṅkīrtana. Everyone was amazed at what had just taken place. To ease our minds and celebrate our victory, you ordered that the box with dates be opened and everyone eat to their hearts delight. But I think that the sweet dates made us both delighted and more crazy! It was an incident that will never escape me. Thank you for your wonderful association!
I remember the incident very well. One demon was downed by me as I hit him in the face, which opened up like a ripe tomato. One demon downed D____ who fell to the ground. You and the others jumped the demon and pulled him down. When he was somewhat restrained you looked at him with great anger and you shouted in his face, “We are spreading Love of God and if you don’t leave us alone we are going to kill you!!!” I think the contrast between spreading Love of God and in the same breath threatening to kill the rascal shocked him the most. Yea, that was one heck of a day and I’ll never forget it.
Three years ago I was walking at 10,000 feet alone the banks of the Gandaki River in the Nepal Himalayas and who did I run into? P____ Prabhu. It was a wonderful meeting. The next day we trekked up to the temple of Muktinātha and after that we parted ways. P_____ went on to the Thor-lung-la pass and I returned to Kathmandu. We had some correspondence after that, but now I haven’t heard from him in years.
The other devotees that you have mentioned are only a memory for me. I haven’t seen any of them in more than twenty-five years. But God bless them for the service they did for Śrīla Prabhupāda and Mahāprabhu’s sankirtan movement.
I would like ask you about guru initiation. Within ISKCON, I feel that Śrīla Prabhupāda is the jagat-guru, and the whole of ISKCON, from start to finish and all that is in between, exists simply as a manifestation of the desire of our Gurudeva. Although Prabhupāda is not visible to our mundane eyes, he lives always, most perfectly in his books, instructions and our memories. So, quite simply, I am unable to accept that others are accepting disciples within the temples of ISKCON, who can not possibly be pure devotees. In fact, the practice of accepting disciples by fallible devotees has created tremendous havoc, especially when they fall from grace. It has put Prabhupāda’s ISKCON into such a bad light; the very institution that our Gurudeva has worked so hard to create. Yet, I understand that eager bhaktas wish to have both first and second initiation and that it is practically necessary to help one advance spiritually. But I would prefer to see some type of system that has senior godbrothers perform the initiation ceremony on behalf of Prabhupada, and that these disciples are initiates of Prabhupada yet can take instruction and encouragenent from the vast body of devotees. For my first initiation, I believe my beads were chanted on by Kīrtanānanda Swami. For my second initiation, the ceremony was performed by Viṣṇujana Swami. Yet I was, in all respects, a disciple of Prabhupāda. So why can this system not continue? Incidentally, we both know what happened to those swamis. So, these attempts by so many gurus to initiate is a great failure and should be stopped. That will bring the center and focus back upon Śrīla Prabhupāda. Think of how strong ISKCON could be if this guru thing would stop and ONLY Prabhupāda were our focus! This is my conviction.
Interesting. I think there is such a movement within Iskcon to implement what you have mentioned above. Particularly there is A_____ Prabhu in Calcutta and M____in Bangalore. So let us see what it becomes after the test of time. Their court battles with the Iskcon GBC have recently ended, so now they can show us what they have to offer. However, if no one becomes a pure devotee of Kṛṣṇa and develops love of God, then that will also be a failure. Prema pumārtha mahān – that is the goal of life. That is the goal of being a disciple of Śrīla Prabhupāda. That is the goal of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Who has that can make disciples.
Now I am asking you for your viewpoint. You are learned, sincere and very renounced within the body of devotees. I know you have studied this point deeply and would welcome your opinion.
Thank you for your appreciation of my somewhat worthless self. My opinion? Well, two wrongs don’t make a right. That’s my opinion. That’s why our group of devotees is separate from Iskcon. We are trying to carry on the paramparā of Śrīla Prabhupāda and all disciples have carried on the paramparā of their bona-fide gurus since time immemorial, evam paramparā prāptam.
But who amongst us will say. “Yes, I have love of God”. Who thinks he has it, actually has nothing. Who thinks he has no love for Krsna, but continues to serve guru and the Holy Name is on the right path.
When I took sannyāsa in 1976, Śrīla Prabhupāda gave a lecture and in that lecture he looked at the sannyāsīs and he said “Become guru and spread this Kṛṣṇa consciousness all over the world.” Śrīla Prabhupāda repeated that five times in the course of that one lecture. It was his order “Become guru and deliver this land.” It was also the order of Mahāprabhu and it is coming down to us through the paramparā.
But we must approach this order with great humility and complete submission to the will of our guru, otherwise we will fail. If we become proud and puffed-up and think that we can offend other Vaiṣṇavas, or use our position to become enjoyers then we will fall down. As you know, this misfortune has fallen upon many of our godbrothers.
When I took sannyāsa, there were a total of seven new sannyāsīs on that day. Now all the others have fallen away to one degree or another, and I am the only one left. So I am still a sannyāsī by the grace of Śrīla Prabhupāda and if I do not fulfill his orders given on that day, then the words of His Divine Grace will have gone in vain. So it may be that personally I have no qualifications to be a guru, or even a sannyāsī, or even a devotee for that matter – but still, it is my solemn duty to fulfill the orders of His Divine Grace to the best of my ability. That is what I am trying to do.
I hope this meets you well.
Swami B.G. Narasingha