Which Party Are You With? (09/09/18)
Dear ______ Dāsa,
Śrī Śrī Guru Gaurāṅga jayate.
Let me first comment and then try to explain more clearly.
“Based on the many issues you bring up, you’re pretty much calling out every guru in ISKCON for so many misunderstandings, sahajiyā tendencies, deviations, etc.”
You are exactly correct, I am calling them out for their 4+ decades of deviations, aparādha and slowly but surely creating an Iskcon that only vaguely resembles the Iskcon created by Śrīla Prabhupāda. In the fall of 1986, I officially left ISKCON after having had one foot out the door since the departure of Śrīla Prabhupāda. I left peacefully to take shelter and śikṣā from Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja, but was curse, condemned and threaten on numerous occasions with physical violence. In fact, circa 1991 the GBC of South India sent J______ Swami’s personal body guard to Kerala to find me and give me a ‘proper beating’. Fortunately he did not find me but about 5 years later that devotee named A____ (from Italy) who had then left Iskcon came to my āśrama in Mysore to apologize. He explained how there had been a meeting under the order of J______ Swami, the zonal secretary and the temple president of Salem ordering him to go to Kerala, find me and give me a beating I would never forget.
Anyway, back to the point. I am actually not attacking Iskcon, I am simply defending the right conception of our Gauḍīya siddhānta. As a sannyāsī I am duty-bound to do so and for that I have the backing and training of Śrīla Prabhupāda, Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja and Śrīla B.P. Purī Mahārāja.
“But I’m confused in the sense that you’re making all these great points and you’re providing clarification to the fog of the GBC’s conceptions of things, yet you suggest that Kṛṣṇa may want me to repair things with R____ Swami, who is one who embodies so many of the errant ways you speak out against.”
You have said that although seeking you do not find a guru in whom you can have faith. It is a fact, when our faith in guru is disturbed or lost it is very, very difficult to find faith in another individual whom we can accept as Kṛṣṇa’s representative. This is probably the situation you are facing. Therefore, it is sometimes necessary to take a step backward before we can take a step forward.
By suggesting that you may need to approach R____ Swami with regards to your relationship with him [at least via email] — the idea is that in doing so you will either find rectification with him or clear your path going forward. But simply to say nothing, do nothing and try to find a suitable relationship with another guru (either śikṣā and or dīkṣā) without either receiving the previous guru’s permission or officially dissolving the relationship completely is not the right way to go about it.
Let us assume you find someone you can have real faith in and that Vaiṣṇava accepts you as a śikṣā disciples. Then R____ Swami and his friends will accuse your new found guru as having stolen his disciple. Yes, the whole thing sounds a bit foolish and it is, but due to Iskcon’s’s extreme lack of Krishna consciousness they have brought about these situations and they have no one to blame but themselves.
When you cross the final bridge with R____ Swami you will be a soul with no obligations to a previous Vaiṣṇava relationship and then you may more easily find what you are looking for (though a ‘stellar guru’ may not be present on this plane)]. Just remember, it was you who first selected R____ Swami as guru and then asked to be accepted as a disciple. So it is only proper that you ask him permission to find a śikṣā-guru and or to be released from your relationship with him as your guru. Its sometimes a painful process, like having a bad tooth pulled, but when its over you will feel much better.
Your friend and well wisher P____ in Vṛndāvana also feels that you need to be straight forward with R____ Swami and explain to him your feelings toward the śikṣā of Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja etc, etc. You might be surprised in that R_____ Swami may bless you in your journey forward in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, but you could also be branded as a heretic and a guru-tyāgi. Most likely the later but then you will be free and Krishna will guide you. Die to live, there is no other way, no other way, no other way!
“So what are the thousands of devotees (such as myself) to do when they understand that their guru doesn’t even have the proper siddhāntika conception of things?”
I have heard that the 5th regulative principle preached in Iskocn is never to leave Iskcon. I have also heard it said that in Iskcon the disciples belong to Iskcon and if the guru leaves Iskcon, then the disciples should stay. I find both these statements to reek of Society Consciousness. Some advice from the śāstra and our ācāryas for devotees to consider:
“Before accepting a guru, one should examine him to see that he is expert in the tattva spoken in the Vedas and has realised parā-tattva. If he is, then he will certainly be capable of giving all kinds of instructions about the Absolute Truth. Normally, there is no question of giving up the dīkṣā-guru. There are two circumstances, however, in which he should be abandoned. First, if the disciple accepted the guru without examining the guru’s knowledge of the Absolute Truth, his Vaiṣṇava qualities, and his other qualifications, and second, if after initiation, the guru does not perform any function, he should be given up. Many passages in śāstras give evidence for this.” (Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura’s Jaiva-dharma)
yo vyaktir nyāya-rahitam anyāyena śṛnoti yaḥ
tāv ubhau narakaṁ ghoraṁ vrajataḥ kālam akṣayam
“He who poses as an ācārya, but gives false instructions that are opposed to the sattvata-śāstras, will reside in a terrible hell for an unlimited period of time, and so will the misguided disciple who mistakenly listens to such a false guru.” (Hari-bhakti-vilāsa 1.62)
guror apy avaliptasya kāryākāryam ajānataḥ
utpatha-pratipannasya parityāgo vidhīyate
“It is one’s duty to give up a guru who cannot teach the disciple what he should do and what he should not do, and who takes the wrong path, either because of bad association or because he is opposed to Vaiṣṇavas.” (Mahābhārata, Udyoga-parva 179.25)
For as long as I can remember I have been ask the question, “Isn’t it possible to change Iskcon from within?” The answer is NO. Better souls than you or I have tried, even laying down their lives and failed. On the outside of Iskcon however, there is Kṛṣṇa consciousness in healthy form and substance, and there they do not have the baggage of society consciousness and Vaiṣṇava-aparādha. Society consciousness and Vaiṣṇava-aparādha are the two biggest obstacles for Iskcon to over come. But unfortunately rather than over come these obstacles they prefer to increase those obstacles day by day. Iskcon worships the idea that ‘big is best’ and they have forgotten that ‘small is beautiful’.
Iskcon is like an army recruiting office with many branches and offices world wide. Many enlist and are found fit only for the general army, the spiritual army of Kṛṣṇa. They are the “chant, dance and be happy sankīrtana party”, with many beautiful women and opulent prasādam. But there are others, another party, who are sometimes chosen for the special services — as Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja described them, “The suicide squad, the kāmānugas. Those who live by the creed, “Die to Live””. Many are called, but few are chosen. Unfortunate as that may be many institutions have fallen as many devotees have fallen, but the Absolute Truth is unchanged and unaffected. The question remains for you to decide, what party are you with. Your situation and that of many others in Iskcon is indeed lamentable, sad really. It is painful to watch so many who have come to Prabhupāda’s movement be mislead only to meet a spiritual dead end.
Wishing you well,