This Time is the Last Straw (08/13/06)
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Śrīla Prabhupāda.
I write you this email to briefly express some difficulty and frustration. Today I am in Switzerland with J____ Prabhu and ____ Mahārāja and we are looking for a suitable place to establish our āśrama. Last Thursday, Friday and Saturday we were in Hungary at a devotee festival on a farm near Budapest. While we were there, a devotee
named T___ Dāsa (a disciple of M___ Prabhu) came to see me and spent three days at the festival. He seems to be a sincere and intelligent devotee. He is a saṅkīrtana devotee and his wife V_____ Dāsī (who is not a disciple of M____ Prabhu and who did not come to see me) is a secratary and a translator for the Italian BBT in Milano. T___ had many questions about the different conceptions of the sahajiyā camps, questions about the X___ Mahārāja camp and some specific questions regarding Gauḍīya Vaisṣṇava philosophy, śikṣā-guru, etc.
By the time T___ returned to Milano (after three days) the word had already spread through the ISKCON community that he had come to see me in Hungary and when he arrived at his house he discovered that he was now blacklisted from the temple.
To make matters even worse M_____ Prabhu had instructed his wife that she should be
prepared to leave her husband because of the situation, or face the consequences that she would lose her service to Śrīla Prabhupāda and no longer be allowed to come to the temple.
So Mahārāja, please allow me to speak frankly. In my opinion this is all nonsense! What is the need to make life hell for these devotees? Is there no other way for ISKCON to retain its members except by force or threat? Surely you will agree that it is because of actions like these, and because of devotees with the mind-set of people like this M____ that ISKCON has literally lost thousands of devotees to other Vaiṣṇava camps and even to the sahajiyās – what to speak of alienating many Prabhupāda disciples like myself and even worse, offending senior Vaiṣṇavas. I really think it would have been much wiser if M____ Prabhu had waited to speak with T___ after his return before giving an ultimatum. I really think that would have at least left open a possibility for reconciliation. But now it seems hopeless and in all probability T____ will have no choice but to seek full shelter in my āśrama.
I have come to know that a couple of weeks ago, a BBT meeting was held in Milano (M_____ Prabhu attended) to discuss the printing of Prabhupāda’s book “In Search of the Ultimate Goal of Life”. I offered to give the copyright to the BBT as a token of good will and to further the cooperation between devotees, and to further the spreading of the saṅkīrtana movement. Now a few days later, two innocent householders are being intimidated and threatened simply because one of them came to speak to me and I am being ‘demonized’. In light of these recent events, what is the meaning of a committee (that you have proposed) to involve myself with other leaders in ISKCON?
Just the other day, I received several emails requesting that I use my influence to help resolve the situation at Rādhā-Dāmodara Temple in Vṛndāvana involving Śrīla Prabhupāda’s rooms. When ISKCON is in trouble (as they were several years ago with the X___ Mahārāja camp) they call on me for help, but on any other occasion I am promptly ‘demonized’ as a matter of convenience. This, in my opinion, amounts to a pathetic attempt to hide the fact that the majority of ISKCON leaders are neophyte devotees and do not deserve to be in leadership positions in Śrīla Prabhupāda’s movement. Due to such leaders, ISKCON perpetually finds itself in difficulties and continues to foster bad relationships with the rest of the Vaiṣṇava world.
Now, I am also disturbed by these dealings and as a result, I am withdrawing my offer to give the copyright of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s book to the BBT, I don’t want to be involved in any committee with ISKCON and I am not going to involve in the dispute between ISKCON and the Rādhā-Dāmodara Goswamis. I did not come here to Europe to steal ISKCON devotees. I came here to preach and to live simply in my āśrama as I always do but M____ Prabhu has now set the stage and the new rules of engagement for my preaching in this part of the world. I am sure he would have been better off to have welcomed me, or at least to have shown some ability to communicate on matters such as these rather than start a war. But he didn’t…
If you wish to continue our friendship that is nice, but otherwise I am thoroughly disgusted with ISKCON and, unlike other times in the past when I have tolerated abuses from ISKCON, this time it is the last straw. Let ISKCON’s fate be what it may, but let it not include me.
Hoping this meets you well.
Swami B.G. Narasingha