We Don’t Carry the Black Death! (06/27/11)
Dear _____ Swami,
Daṇḍavat praṇāmas. All glories to Śrīla Prabhupāda.
We have not corresponded in quite some time. I trust by the grace of Kṛṣṇa that you are well and happy in your service to Śrīla Prabhupāda. Sorry I missed you here is South India, when you visited my āśrama in January.
I write you now concerning a problem which is arising in Czech Republic and Slovakia. The problem arising is between a group of my disciples and your disciple K___Swami
The brief of the situation is this: For the past 3 years Czech devotees (mostly new bhaktas) have been coming to India and staying at my āśramas in South India and Vṛndāvana. It all began with a certain Czech devotee named P____ Dāsa. For the better part of the past 6 years P____ found himself at odds with the ISKCON National Council in Czech, mostly due to his strong independent nature as a preacher and saṅkīrtana devotee. After some time P____ came upon the books of Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja and eventually came into my association for ‘śikṣā’.
The contact with Śrīdhara Mahārāja’s books and then myself brought P_____ into stark contrast with his guru. This drama played out over another years time and in the end (as to be expected) P____ was rejected by his guru and ISKCON. My association it seems was the final straw.
Of course, I am very accustomed to dealing with harsh reactions from ISKCON, I myself being rejected by ISKCON some 25 years ago due to my taking śikṣā from Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja. You know my history quite well.
You also know that I never advise my disciples and followers to engage in any antagonistic behavior with ISKCON. You are also aware that on more than one occasion ISKCON has rejected a devotee which, when in my association, later became a gem amongst the Vaiṣṇava community.
In any case, the issue here is not directly P_____. The issue becomes difficult when it now involves a certain family of one of my aspiring disciples in Slovakia, namely L____and his wife V____. L____ and I have a very sweet relationship as he is very sincere and a mature person in his 50s. L____’s wife however is an aspiring disciple of K___Swami. What happens next I think you can imagine.
L____ asked me what he should do concerning his wife and I instructed him that faith (śraddhā) cannot be dictated to anyone. He should go on with his service to me and not interfere with the faith of his wife. But I also told him that when the issue comes in front of the ISKCON authorities that he should expect them to advise his wife in a rather harsh manner. And it happened.
L____’s wife was instructed by K___Swami not to associate with P___, not to attend our programs (in L____’s house), not to cook for us, or do any service for us, etc. In a couple of months I will be going to L___’s house, and as you can see the situation will be very intense and for what good purpose?
K___Swami could easily have instructed L___s wife to be ‘tolerant’ and continue to serve her husband and be an ideal Vaiṣṇavī. But no – K___Swami preferred to instruct L___’s wife in such a way that she now is at odds with her husband (endangering their relationship), she is fearful of my disciples and when I arrive at her home she will probably run away as if the ‘black death’ personified has arrived. Just see the fun!
L____’s wife is now made to feel her husband is in māyā and also her employer (_____ Dāsa) who is a disciple of K___Swami is now made to pressure her at work. This all comes (and worse is on the horizon) as a result of K___Swami being a hard liner. K___Swami recently visited _____ Dāsa at his home and since, the situation has become more difficult for L___ and V___. I paste here a pertinent portion of an email that i received today from L___.
“Whole problem lies in fact, that my wife V___is aspiring for K___Swami as guru and he was just recently in Slovakia for few days in the house of his disciple _____ Dāsa, where my wife is working as practical helper in his household. By that opportunity she had happened to speak with him (K___Swami) through the translator. Of course anybody in Slovakia knows now that I have accepted your shelter, which has provoked different reactions regarding my decision. That iI consider natural, because everybody has his opinion, but I cannot accept how K___Swami has instructed my wife in regards to P_____.
K___Swami knows what is happening around P____ and that he is our family friend and guest and often does sat-saṅga in our house. K___Swami has advised my wife to not participate in these programs, not associate with P_____, not cook for him, etc.
At the end of July, P____will come for one week to us and later in August we have a sat-saṅga summer camp in nature for a week with other devotees as well. My wife (by instruction from K___Swami) is supposed to shun all these programs. My wife V___ has a friendly, personal relationship with P_____ and she cannot understand and accept this instruction in her simple heart, but at the same time she is not able to question or argue that with her guru out of lack of courage and social consideration. Naturally all that creates an atmosphere of conflict and tension in our household and relationship….. i dont want to push V___ in this regard, although I see that K___Swami’s instructions to my wife are disharmonizing and simply not acceptable for our family.”
Since you have been my friend since 1972 in Brooklyn and you also have a great appreciation for Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja, I humbly request you that you instruct your disciple, K___Swami, to change his hard line approach to L____’s wife and adopt a much more tolerant Kṛṣṇa conscious attitude.
From my side, I have instructed L____ not to disturb his wife’s faith in K___Swami and neither to be fearful of the adversity which one often faces when coming in connection with the teachings of Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja and his representatives.
Of course, the excuse for the hardline approach is that P___ is ‘against’ ISKCON. This however is simply ‘fear-mongering’. P_____ is fully under my shelter and instruction and I have directly instructed him to cultivate our own people and not to canvas ISKCON, speak harshly or clash with ISKCON. Your instructing K___Swami as to the same would be greatly appreciated.
If the situation in Czech and Slovakia continues as it is at present in the house of L___ then the matter will soon become a direct confrontation with me in which K___Swami and others will have to criticize and speak badly of me and the line of Śrīdhara Mahārāja. History has shown us that to take that path is not advisable. I have no issue with ISKCON but I will not sit idle and watch someone or anyone attack the faith of my disciples. I think you understand what I say here, if this issue in the house of L____ blows out of proportion, in the end it will not look good for ISKCON.
I place this matter in your hands and trust that you will do the needful and that after such, the friction being created in the house of L____ can disappear and they might be able to go on with their Kṛṣṇa consciousness and understand that the leaders and gurus in Kṛṣṇa consciousness (in or out of ISKCON) are not fanatics, zealots, extremists, dogmatists or bigots (nor do we carry the ‘black death’).
Looking forward to hearing from you soon.