The Cause of the Fall Down of Around 100 Sannyāsīs (03/14/08)
Dear G____ Swami,
All glories to Śrī Guru and Gaurāṅga.
“You’re right, there are a lot of rules, but I don’t see how a big institution which doesn’t have one acarya can avoid it. Certainly we can diminish them. You are an independent Acarya, and you can do as you like, that is the advantage of having your own program.”
To the contrary, a big institution doesn’t need many rules, it only needs a few good guidelines, i.e., if the institution and its members have good leadership then that is inspired internally. Actually, Iskcon could be run without ever having to vote and certainly with a hell of a lot less committees — but first they would have to deeply try to see the will of Kṛṣṇa, be more dynamic, less foolish, and more fearless. If you say, “That’s what we are doing,” then I say, “Then why are you still loosing good men? And why are leaders still falling down?”
I don’t think Iskcon is any bigger now than it was when Śrīla Prabhupāda was here, it only looks that way on paper. It certainly doesn’t have more spiritual potency and, as more than one GBC man and sannyāsī have said to me in the past, “No one really cares what the GBC decides, not even the GBC men themselves. After the meetings everyone goes back to their zone and pretty much does as they damn well please.” You have said as much to me yourself.
“Anyway, I agree that something more compassionate should have been done, especially if, as you say, he has served ISKCON for so many years.”
Anyway. I am doing all that I can to help our godbrother fulfill Śrīla Prabhupāda’s desire that all his men disciples take sannyāsa after reaching 50 years of age. Prabhupāda said that this instruction is “obligatory” and now ____ Mahārāja is prepared to carry out that instruction.
“Yes, Śrīla Prabhupāda did say that, but he did say in even more quotes that sannyāsa is not for everyone, but that is something that has to be further examined, I will do a bit more research. Certainly those that can preach and are over 50 should take sannyāsa, and at least vānaprastha.”
Certainly everyone will not ask for sannyāsa even after they pass 50 years of age, but those that do should be encouraged. I agree there are plenty of men who would not fare well if they took sannyāsa. What is needed is some real soul-searching and soul-probing of the individual. In my case, there were seven of us taking sannyāsa on the same day in 1976 and without a doubt, if you would have asked the leaders who is who, they would certainly have agreed that I was the most likely not to succeed. Prabhupāda didn’t even know my name when he gave me my daṇḍa. He had to ask Tamāla-Kṛṣṇa Gosvāmī what my name was. But up to this point in time it looks like I was actually the only one in the group taking sannyāsa that would succeed. So who can really say about the future? If a man is sincere, that is his greatest redeeming quality.
Probably the greatest mistake Iskcon makes when giving sannyāsa is that they give sannyāsa to some persons even if they are the offenders of the Vaiṣṇavas, or even the offenders of the higher Vaiṣṇavas. Even the one who gives the sannyāsa is sometimes an offender to the sannyāsa-guru-paramparā. But as we are told, “sannyāsa is simply external, for preaching.” But because Iskcon does not address the internal meaning of sannyāsa as very important, we feel that this is the second biggest defect in those who give and take sannyāsa. They think it is external.
However, more than any other reason it is vaiṣṇava-aparādha which has led to the fall down of close to 100 Iskcon sannyāsīs. But I ask you, has the sannyāsa committee taken into account the possibility of aparādha being a primary cause for fall down? From outside Iskcon we see this as Iskcon’s greatest defect — institutional vaiṣṇava-aparādha.
Swami BG Narasingha