You Are On the Outside Looking In (04/17/03)
Dear P____ Dāsa Prabhu,
Thank you for your letter of concern.
This is a note of concern from P______ Dāsa Adhikārī, the father of your hari-nāma disciple, A____ Dāsī. Because she has accepted you as her spiritual father it is more difficult for me to give her guidance on some of her personal issues since those are issues upon which I hold a much different outlook than you. At the moment my input to her life is for her to carefully read the books of Śrīla Prabhupāda and to endeavor her best to chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa Mahā-mantra and associate with the devotees in her community. Out of respect for her emotional stability I have not yet exposed her to my different view on how you are conducting the mission of Śrī Caitanya. In Nectar of Instruction, Śrīla Prabhupāda writes in a purport that an ācārya is not to be reprimanded or corrected by anyone, since, such an ācārya is under the direction of the internal potency due to his strict obedience to the previous ācāryas. I am just a householder with bipolar illness and so no one takes anything I say seriously even when I quote directly from śāstra what to speak of my offering advice or counsel to a sannyāsī.
The history of the sampradāya since the departure of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta seems to be based on the misconception that only a sannyāsa can approach the truth while a householder is in some inferior and incapable situation, despite the fact that Bhaktivinoda and Bhaktivedānta were both householders.
Of course among neophytes that may have been true but certainly among the Kṛṣṇa conscious disciples of Sarasvatī Ṭhākura that was not a consideration. How many of Sarasvatī Ṭhākura’s disciples do you know or have you met? It is not good to make blanket statements that may include pure devotees of Kṛṣṇa.
It is also a fact that many of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s exalted sannyāsa godbrothers looked down on him and when he became successful showed envy rather than jubilation.
And it is a fact that those misunderstandings were cleared up between Śrīla Prabhupāda and his godbrothers before he left this world. It is also a fact that not all Śrīla Prabhupāda’s godbrothers thought like that.
When I visited last year the fledgling community of which A____ Dāsī is a part seemed to be on a path of vibrant growth. Yourself and two other sannyāsīs were personally present, and the tour you took me on showed promise of future development. There were deities in the temple, regular programs and a general mood of optimism about the potential for developing the resources of the area. Since that time the temple Deities have been removed and all services stopped.
To go up a mountain you sometimes have to go down a hill.
Of course, if some older devotees would like to assist in our struggle then that would be nice and we might make progress more quickly.
The video laboratory is sitting unused while G_____ and his wife do other things.
We are doing video filming and editing here in India. The program is not dead.
The temple on the hill project also seems to have stopped.
We have our plan and Kṛṣṇa has His! But time will tell.
Since the temple center has ceased to exist ,the various members of the former community have no vehicle for association and the vision that I saw last year has vanished. J_____ has again decided to follow yet another living guru and is making plans to move into the influence of H.H. T____ Swami. I have known him since he joined and he has followed first Śrīla Prabhupāda, then R_____ Swami, then M____, then your good self ,and now he looks to H.H. T____ Swami for personal inspiration.
Are these good or bad people that you have mentioned? At least he has the desire to seek good association with his godbrothers. I wish him all the best.
He is a nice devotee but one of the many who needs a live guru to feel any inspiration, not yet having understood the supremacy of vāṇi over vapu.
So in the meantime let him associate with T____ Mahārāja. What’s the problem?
It seems that the C___ family was once in the influence of H.H. T___ Gosvāmī and have since then transferred their association to your influence. I see that all of the members of the community there are devotees who need the association of a living and present guru to maintain their enthusiasm and when that is wanting they look elsewhere or begin to become assimilated into the surrounding mundane culture. I see this happening to your community in Vemont/New York. There is a distinct emotion in the air that has reached the stage of verbal expression that the community has been abandoned by its spiritual leader.
Then follow the spiritual leader and don’t think that he will be there simply whenever you happen to have a free moment from work. “Die to live”! Not “live to die”!
Of course, you cannot be everywhere as your preaching begins to expand beyond the immediate influence of your personal presence. However, if your preaching does expand to other places in the world, is it not correct to conclude that you are responsible for the spiritual development of those people? Is it not correct to conclude that whatever you are doing in the place where you are must also include doing something to make sure the people in other places are understanding and following the principles that will ensure their spiritual life? Is it also not correct that a traditional duty of a sannyāsi is to be on the constant move to give his personal association to those who need it or at least to make some arrangement for them to get more advanced association?
My first instruction from Śrīla Prabhupāda when I took sannyāsa in 1976 was to serve in India. I came to the west as an option, but my first duty is here in India.
My different point of view from yours is that Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta and Śrīla Prabhupāda have given direct orders to conduct the Mission of Lord Caitianya with a GBC. A primary function of the GBC is to go to the temples where the guru cannot be and make sure the principles and practices are understood and followed. Where there is no GBC history has shown again and again that neophyte devotees will take up sectarian views and break away from the standard set of rules that have been given to keep things together. Śrīla Prabhupāda’s godbrothers did not like the GBC idea and the result was a handful of sects in constant contention. Now that Śrīla Prabhupāda is not here to lower the boom, the same thing has happened in ISKCON with the GBC there running amok. And among the remainder of the sampradāya there is still no GBC understanding so things are continuing to break apart as more and more sectarian ideas are introduced unopposed and taken up by neophytes who know no better.
That is quite a tunnel-vision that you have and, about my situation, you do not even have part, what to speak of all, the information. In short, I will simple say that the extent of one’s God consciousness is due to how much one’s guru (in my case Śrīla Prabhupāda) is pleased. Those who do not have the mercy of Śrī Gurudeva cannot even follow the regulative principles what to speak of making advancement in Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
If you had accepted and applied the GBC order in your life, your organization would have a GBC and the GBC men, or man, would be on the move to make sure the principles and practices were maintained in those places where you cannot be. Because you cannot be everywhere and there is no GBC in your organization, the community in Vermont/New York is falling apart.
Unfortunately things don’t really work that way. There are plenty of GBC’s in the world yet temples still ‘fall apart’, misconceptions develop (especially among the GBCs) and there is all hell to pay.
When you talk about me and Vermont I must say frankly that you do not know what you are talking about. The bitterness that you speak about (below) goes deeper than you know.
The Vermont ‘community’ exists in the first place because the householders there abandoned there commitments here at our āśrama in India and retreated to the west. Everything we set out to do here in India to serve Śrīla Prabhupāda has come true. The only thing missing are the few devotees who could not surrender. Yes! Could not surrender! They care more about family, sex, shopping, and children than they do about serving the order of guru and Kṛṣṇa. Wherever they go their problems will go with them.
I was serving in India long before I met any of the older devotees in Vermont and I went to the west on the understanding that if something was to be done, it would have to be done by them ($) and that I would come there from time to time for preaching. On my last trip to Vermont where I spent nine months, J____ Prabhu only ever came to about three programs. That’s fine with me, but don’t expect me to stay around just to give a few classes to the wife and kids.
I do not think that what you have said above represents J____ and his family, but in any case, if there is a devotee (disciple or otherwise) who wants to correspond with me on any of your points then he/she is certainly welcome to do so.
Or if you would like to send me a ticket to Vermont that would be nice. Possibly you could take up a collection from the devotees. It is the duty of the guru and sannyāsīs to travel, but it is the duty of the householders to sponsor that travel etc. Śrīla Prabhupāda was very strong on the point that householders must give 50% of their wealth for spreading Kṛṣṇa consciousness, but who is willing to do that? Therefore I am in India where Śrīla Prabhupāda ordered me to preach.
It is also the direct order of Śrīla Prabhupāda that after fifty years of age a householder man should get out of household life, but who is doing that? Śrīla Prabhupāda said that they will stay in household life until cruel death comes. Unfortunate!
How old are you Prabhu?
The devotees there are neophytes and cannot maintain without the personal input of a more advanced devotee. Due to that lack they are suffering. They are confused. They are bitter. They are making plans independent of your guidance to go to other places.
They are willing to go to ‘other places’ but they are not willing to go to ‘the place’ where I am, or where their guru is situated by the order of his guru is that what you are saying? Think about it.
Please forgive my rash intrusion upon your territory but I do so out of compassion and empathy for those who are suffering due to your absence. I make this presentation to you because you are, on the bottom line, my godbrother, and we both know you are not really a sannyāsī and I am not really a gṛhastha.
Bottom line? When I was a sannyāsī living in the next room from Śrīla Prabhupāda in Bombay, one of my godbrothers was my personal servant. So the bottom line is that we are all servants – even servants of our godbrothers and godsisters. But what godbrother will think to become the personal servant of a godbrother now?
All we are is minute particles of spiritual dust who must adhere to the lotus feet of our spiritual masters feet in order for there to be any meaning to anything we do. I fall at your feet in making this presentation on behalf of the members of your ailing community in Vermont/New York. This is for them not me. If you are offended please kick me aside to the gutter and take no serious consideration of my foolish rantings.
It is better if you ask them to approach me directly. You do not have all the facts and you are on the outside looking in. No offence intended.
I hope this meets you well.
Swami B.G. Narasiṅgha