Offending Vaiṣṇavas – Is That Our Legacy? (07/13/07)
Dear H_______ Dāsa Gosvāmī,
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Śrīla Prabhupāda.
So nice to hear from you after a very long time.
The quote of Śrīdhara Mahārāja that we are discussing from below is excerpted from a conversation between Śrīdhara Mahārāja and several leading GBC men in March of 1982. It was for the most part a meeting of the GBC body with Sridhar Maharaja (although all GBC men were not present). We do have an mp3 (digital recording) of that conversation and upon hearing it you will surely recognize the voices of several GBC men although all those present on that day did not speak. It was Kīrtanānanda Swami who brought the meeting to its most unpleasant moment after which Śrīdhara Mahārāja spoke and broke down into tears. The meeting ended on such a bad note that things almost came to blows between some of Śrīdhara Mahārāja’s followers and the GBC. It was a dreadful day in our history!
I have only listened to that recording once (over 20 years ago) and even then I had difficulty listening to it because of the sheer horror of it all. Some people regard me as a tough man (and I have certainly seen my share of bad things from quarreling among godbrothers to bloodshed and even murder), but I was not man enough while listening to that recording not to cry — it was heart-breaking. Even though I was not physically present for that meeting, nonetheless just listening to it made me ashamed to have been a part of ISKCON. How we, as disciples of Prabhupāda and representatives of Lord Caitanya, came to mortify such a venerable personality as Śrīdhara Mahārāja is still inconceivable and most unfortunate.
In my humble opinion, there is no need nor benefit in trying to place blame on a single devotee or on a small body of devotees (GBC) in ISKCON for the unfortunate events that transpired in those dreadful years of 1977 and shortly after. If blame is to fall somewhere then I earnestly believe that it falls on all of the heads of Prabhupāda’s disciples — for how on earth did we stand by and allow things to get so out of control? And when will it stop? When will we bring an end to offending Vaiṣṇavas, or is that the legacy that we leave to future generations?
If you want the mp3 digital file mentioned above we can arrange to have it sent to you.
Hoping this meets you well.