Suggestions for Harmonious Service at Rādhā-Dāmodara Temple (03/28/09)
Dear B____ Prabhu,
Daṇḍavats. All glories to Śrīla Prabhupāda.
In regards to our telephone conversation about settling the issue and co-operating in a spirit of harmony for the satisfaction of His Divine Grace, we present the following for your consideration.
Items 1 thru 3 concern undisputed proprietorship of the two rooms we refer to as “Prabhupāda’s bhajana-kuṭīra” as being the sole property of Ṭhākurajī Rādhā-Dāmodara.
Items 4 thru 6 concern a financial arrangement with ISKCON.
Items 7 thru 15 concern standards of service in Prabhuada’s bhajana-kuṭīra and the spirit of co-operation and harmony both for the satisfaction of Śrīla Prabhupāda and for that of Ṭhākurajī Rādhā-Dāmodara.
I have sometimes made a few “notes” and “suggestions” while making the list below. At this point this is all unofficial in the legal sense but should be taken as most earnest and sincere in the sense of Vaiṣṇava dealings.
1] That Ṭhākurajī Rādhā-Dāmodara is recognized as the undisputed proprietor and controller of the rooms known as Śrīla Prabhupāda’s bhajana-kuṭīra.
2] That only the Rādhā-Dāmodara Temple authorities have the right to paint, plaster, repair, fix or install items such as walls, floors, furniture, pictures, fans, lights, etc in Śrīla Prabhupāda’s bhajana-kuṭīra.
3] That the monthly electric bill for Śrīla Prabhupāda’s bhajana-kuṭīra will always be paid timely by the Rādhā-Dāmodara temple authorities.
4] That a once and for all good-will of rupees 25 lakhs be given to Ṭhākurajī Rādhā-Dāmodara Temple by ISKCON.
5] That a monthly sum of rupees 20 thousand (payable in the first week of every month) be given to Ṭhākurajī Rādhā-Dāmodara Temple authorities by ISKCON. A lapse of more that two months in making this service donation would be considered as serious neglect of our agreement.
(SUGGESTION: This monthly service donation could be made by ISKCON in the form of BBT books of Śrīla Prabhupāda [at ISKCON temple wholesale prices] rather than by cash. The idea is to increase book distribution and to engage the Rādhā-Dāmodara sevites in Mahaprabhu’s saṅkīrtana and in spreading the glories of Śrīla Prabhupāda. By such, the monthly amount to Ṭhākurajī Rādhā-Dāmodara will naturally be increased as a result of the book distribution at retail prices.)
6] That the monthly service donation should increase every five years according to the recognized rate of inflation in India. What that amount is and how it is derived has to be discussed between the concerned parties before finalization.
(NOTE: The idea of a monthly donation is solely for the purpose of maintaining Śrīla Prabhupāda’s bhajana-kuṭīra and the surrounding premises of the Ṭhākurajī Rādhā-Dāmodara temple. It is not for the personal gain of any individual or group of individuals.)
7] That Śrī Nirmal Chandra Goswami and his respected family members should always be given great respect and recognition as being dear to Śrīla Prabhupāda and as being the well-wishers of ISKCON and all devotees of Śrīla Prabhupāda.
(NOTE: Neglect of this simple and pure request has probably been the biggest source of irritation between ISKCON and the Goswamis at Rādhā-Dāmodara in the past. Let the future be bright and let the past be forgotten.)
8] Daily service of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s bhajana-kuṭīra should be preformed by duly initiated devotees or under the direction of senior devotees. It should be punctual and carried out with the utmost care and attention to detail as His Divine Grace lives eternally in his rooms at Ṭhākurajī Rādhā-Dāmodara temple.
(SUGGESTION: To have an ISKCON sannyāsī come daily and engage in Prabhupāda’s service in his bhajana-kuṭīra is something that was the direct desire and instruction of Śrīla Prabhupāda. It is not that this service should be passed off on new bhaktas and old women who have little or nothing else to do. This is a very high service and should be arranged accordingly. Let the new men, the old and the women come, but let them come to serve under senior example and direction. Actually at present the women of ISKCON are the real heros in the service of Prabhupāda at Rādhā-Dāmodara as they show the most steady devotion and sincerity.)
9] Fixed items of service such as offering plates, achmana cups, dipams, etc will be provided by the Rādhā-Dāmodara temple authority.
(NOTE: All such items are to be inventoried as the personal property of His Divine Grace and the inventory should be maintained with utmost care. This was part of Prabhupāda’s original instructions on how the service in his bhajana-kuṭīra would be carried out.)
10] All servants of Śrīla Prabhupāda engaged in sevā at the Rādhā-Dāmodara Temple are to preach the glories of Śrīla Prabhupāda, Jīva Gosvāmī and Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī and their glorious paramparā. Complete abstinence from criticism of Vaiṣṇavas, and particularly of the Rādhā-Dāmodara sevites, must be strictly adhered to. All sevites of Śrīla Prabhupāda must demonstrate an ability to harmonize and appreciate the service of other Vaiṣṇavas.
(NOTE: Śrīla Prabhupāda’s bhajana-kuṭīra is not to become a battleground for controversial matters or separate institutional ideals. Politics of any kind belong elsewhere. Also all ISKCON devotees who come to serve at Rādhā-Dāmodara or come for darśana should observe all the rules that have been posted for the temple.)
11] Items like soap, rags, brooms, incense, ghee wicks and all such items as are ‘consumed’ in the course of service should be provided by ISKCON.
12] No person whatsoever shall be allowed to sleep or lay down on the floor or on a bed in either Śrīla Prabhupāda’s bedroom or his kitchen.
(NOTE: In the past “some” of the servants sent to serve Śrīla Prabhupāda at Rādhā-Dāmodara took over advantage of the situation and much of Prabhupāda’s bhajana-kuṭīra became “their” space wherein dirty towels, kaupīnas and such were often left lying here and there. The servants were often spitting in the drain and even taking bath in Śrīla Prabhupāda’s kitchen. Sometimes these devotees have been seen playing video games on their cell-phones in Prabhupāda’s kitchen, or just lounging around reading a newspaper. Henceforward any servant of Śrīla Prabhupāda at Rādhā-Dāmodara Temple must maintain the proper standard expected of a pūjārī and any servant of Śrīla Prabhupāda requiring rest or the use of toilet facilities may do so in the upstairs rooms provided by the temple authorities. But under no circumstance is Śrīla Prabhupāda’s bhajana-kuṭīra to become the lounge area, or residence of any individual or group of individuals.)
13] A new deity of Śrīla Prabhupāda for his bedroom and for his kitchen room should be provided by ISKCON.
(NOTE: The present deity in Prabhupāda’s bhajana-kuṭīra is not proper in that the Deity looks down and does not look happy. People come into the room for darśana of Śrīla Prabhupāda, but they cannot see his face because he is looking down. The pose of the new deity should be like that on the vyāsāsana at Kṛṣṇa-Balarāma Temple [that is a proper darśana deity, the present one being more like a diorama than a deity of His Divine Grace]. When a second deity is installed in the kitchen this will ensure forever that nobody can claim residence in Śrīla Prabhupāda’s bhajana-kuṭīra.)
14] That all devotees who come to serve Śrīla Prabhupāda in his bhajana-kuṭīra should be in a genuine spirit of co-operation and should facilitate other devotees who wish to offer Śrīla Prabhupāda a garland, a flower or who wish to do some humble service such as helping at the appropriate times with sweeping and cleaning Prabhupāda’s rooms.
(NOTE: At Rādhā-Dāmodara, Śrīla Prabhupāda is seen in his most universal manifestation of Divine Mercy and therefore he attracts devotees from many camps and from diverse backgrounds.)
15] That a committee should be created of ISKCON leaders and Rādhā-Dāmodara sevites to work together for the satisfaction of Śrīla Prabhupāda and according to Prabhupāda’s desire, work for the improvement and glorification of Ṭhākurajī Rādhā-Dāmodara.
(SUGGESTION: Senior sannyāsīs, gurus and GBCs should certainly be on this committee [at least one or two]. This committee should endeavor to really get behind assisting the renovations and developments that are going on at the Radha-Damadara temple. This means, but is not limited to, financial help. ISKCON has many talented devotees who may like to serve in one way or another at Rādhā-Dāmodara and this should be encouraged. At the same time, the present authorities at Rādhā-Dāmodara will remain just that – the authority of the temple. All others are to offer assistance in a spirit of service and co-operation.)
(NOTE: In this issue that we are trying to settle it is the simple devotee that suffers the most. In this unwholesome environment of conflict, many devotees, small and big, unwittingly commit vaiṣṇava-aparādha. So if the leaders can find harmony in a Vaiṣṇava manner then they will relieve much of the suffering of the simple devotee and the common people. I think in this Śrīla Prabhupāda can be nothing but pleased.)
Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the above.