Our Affectionate Guardians
by Srila Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Maharaja
Chapter 1: A Transcendental Friendship
Our Relationship is
Chapter 2: Exalted Glorification by Srila B. P. Puri Goswami
Chapter 5: Srila
Prabhupada's Regard for Srila Sridhara Maharaja
Srila Sridhara Maharaja's Preaching Different Than Prabhupada's?
Srila Sridhara Maharaja's Mood Different than Prabhupada's?
Srila Sridhara Maharaja Was Outside of Iskcon
Srila Sridhara Maharaja Reinitiate Srila Prabhupada's Disciples?
is the Force (GBC Allegations)
Deviation ~ Symptoms ~ Kanak, Kamini & Pratistha
Our Affectionate Guardians: Introduction
"The devotees always
offer respect to everyone, but when there is a discussion on a point of sastra,
they do not observe the usual etiquette, satyam bruyat priyam bruyat.
They speak only the satyam,
although it may not necessarily be priyam
(Srila Prabhupada letter to Sumati Morarji-7 August 1976)
Before reading this book we ask our readers to reflect upon the nature of the devotees' quest in this material world. We are interested in the Absolute Truth (Sri Krsna); therefore, we must fearlessly pursue Him, no matter what the consequences. Let us approach the Supreme Absolute Truth with an unbiased mind, so that we may certainly find Him. We will not find the truth if we don't want to find the truth.
A major portion of this book (chapters one thru five) was originally prepared for presentation to the 1995 International Society for Krsna Consciousness (ISKCON) Governing Body Commission (GBC) Meeting in Mayapur. Although we felt that there was little scope for the reconciliation of our two societies, we nevertheless took the invitation of the ISKCON GBC to meet with the Gaudiya Vaisnava Society as an impetus to clarify many misunderstandings. Indeed, we found reconciliation difficult, if not impossible, on an official level. Therefore we have undertaken the writing of this book, in an attempt to reconcile with the devotees on an unofficial level. We hope that it is appreciated by thoughtful-minded devotees. Herein we have presented portions of relevant conversations, letters, and other verifiable evidence to substantiate our belief that Srila Sridhara Maharaja as well as Srila Prabhupada are "Our Affectionate Guardians." Doing so brings many truths regarding the intimate relationship between Srila Prabhupada and Srila Sridhara Maharaja to the attention of the devotees in general and in particular to the attention of those who have at one time or another been associated with ISKCON. We hope that this will diminish the ongoing offensive [and intolerable] attitudes that we observe in many devotees around the world and help relieve them of the effects of these attitudes by causing a change of heart. It is not our intention to force Srila Sridhara Maharaja on anyone nor are we trying to disturb the ISKCON devotees. We simply feel very strongly that the enlightening and previously unknown (to many) facts contained within this book will serve to clarify past, present, and future misunderstandings on this subject. This will help clear the air of the predominantly offensive attitude toward Srila Sridhara Maharaja, help devotees relieve themselves from offenses they may have committed, and also provide welcome and needed encouragement in the devotional lives of many.
The form of this book is continuously evolving as per the suggestions of many similarly concerned devotee friends. Almost unanimously they have advised that we "tell it like it is," so please forgive us if in the process we have offended anyone. Our aim is not to spew out a tirade of angry accusations mixed haphazardly with inappropriate sastric quotations as we have seen in some publications, but rather to present the truth such that it will stand the test of time. We felt that it was necessary to document specific incidences so that our readers would have criterion for understanding why we came to the conclusions that we did. In doing this, almost all names have been left out wherever unpleasant events are mentioned. Although some would rather "let the past rest," we felt that misinformation about what really happened was causing devotees to continue to commit aparadha into the present. Thus we felt that we had a duty to carry out and "to neglect it would be an offense to Mahaprabhu." Also, as stated in Perfection of Yoga (Ch. 4), "A real sadhu is one who uses sharp words to cut the mind from its attachments." And many have grown accustomed to an offensive attitude toward Srila Sridhara Maharaja. It is high time to tell the story and clarify this once and for all. We do not feel that we are airing our dirty laundry in public but clarifying the many misconceptions already manifest and providing a truthful explanation of previously misconstrued information and improper propoganda.
We feel strongly that the elucidation of many points of siddhanta by Srila Sridhara Maharaja has been an absolute necessity in our evolving spiritual lives--our gain is immeasurable. Many of these points were drawn out by force of great need at the time of the disappearance of Srila Prabhupada. The intense searching and questioning of the devotees at that time drew down such mercy that even disciples of Srila Sridhara Maharaja for forty years said that they were hearing things that they had never heard before. Also, much siddhanta was given by Srila Prabhupada in seed form and not having the adhikari to figure it out on our own, we find that many times we need the help of a more highly situated Vaisnava. Innumerable quotes by Srila Prabhupada and sastra overwhelmingly support the conviction of seeking proper answers by higher association.
We are firmly situated in the conviction that the instructions of Srila Sridhara Maharaja are God-sent and are an invaluable asset in the evolving and precarious spiritual lives of the disciples and grand disciples of Srila Prabhupada--mahajano yena gatah sa panthah. Further, we see in our scrutiny of the transcripts of the meetings of ISKCON GBC members with Srila Sridhara Maharaja that at the time of receiving instructions from Sridhara Maharaja all the ISKCON stalwarts were genuinely appreciative and time and time again responded, "Very clear, very clear." This went on for several years. We have taped recordings of these stalwarts' heartfelt statements that "you are our siksa-guru, you are nondifferent than our Srila Prabhupada. We take it that Srila Prabhupada is speaking to us through you." And many more heartfelt statements were made.
The clear instructions of Srila Sridhara Maharaja in regards to gurus, godbrothers, disciples, worship, and proper Vaisnava etiquette were well-received by the GBC, partially implemented, then ignored and later used as a excuse for the GBC's rejection of Sridhara Maharaja. Pertinent excerpts from the most comprehensive question and answer sessions of the GBC representatives with Srila Sridhara Maharaja are presented throughout. The GBC appears to have used Srila Sridhara Maharaja as a source of information which they then picked over and chose what they liked, rejecting that which did not suite their desires. That this is the case is self-evident upon examination of the advices given and the subsequent decisions taken by the GBC. Once the GBC found that Srila Sridhara Maharaja's advisory capacity was far far higher and more Krsna conscious than they bargained for-that they would then have to expand the guruship, treat godbrothers equally, tone down their excessive puja, etc., etc.-- they started to vilify him in so many ways.
Year after year blasphemous statements and condemning invectives were shouted from the vyasasana and distributed as authoritative GBC papers [such as Vaishnava Ke and Purity Is the Force], interspersed with a few private half-hearted apologies--half-hearted in that absolutely no attempt was made to undo the negative impressions continuously hammered into the minds of the majority of ISKCON's devotees. One well known devotee, upon reading the GBC publication, Purity Is the Force, quipped, "If this has anything to do with Krsna consciousness, I don't want anything to do with it." For fifteen years an atmosphere of negativity has been maintained within ISKCON towards Srila Sridhara Maharaja and continues to this very day. So strong is this blasphemous propaganda that many adopt it without even knowing anything about the issues. Thus it is not surprizing that one ISKCON guru recently contended, "we [the GBC gurus] didn't do anything wrong-it is all Sridhara Maharaja's fault-all ISKCON's problems can be blamed on him." The disastrous effects of this kind of attitude are documented in chapter six, Aparadha, The Vaishnava's Greatest Enemy.
That grievous vaisnava-aparadha has been institutionalized within ISKCON and blocks the advancement of so many we have painstakingly documented. Its effects are there whether we like it or not, whether we recognize it or not-it is wreaking havoc in the devotional lives of so many devotees. Real devotees happily see their ongoing progress in Krsna consciousness as proof that it is a real process, bhaktih paresanubhavo viraktir anyatra (Bhag. 11.2.42). This proof comes in the form of ever-increasing realizations (anubhavah), higher taste for serving our Lordships (bhaktih), detachment from material endeavors (viraktih), etc. Conversely, we also (unfortunately) find real proof of the validity of the process of Krsna consciousness in the practical demonstration of devotees being covered by ignorance, mayayapahrta-jnana (Bg. 7.15), losing their taste for Krsna consciousness, the inverse of param drstva nivartate (Bg. 2.59), and being swallowed up by maya, buddhi-nasat pranasyati (Bg. 2.63)-slowly as a result of not following strictly and properly, bhogaisvarya-prasaktanam tayapahrta-cetasam (Bg. 2.44), and rapidly as a result of offenses, yadi vaisnava-aparadha uthe hati mata (Cc. Madhya-lila 19.156).
We are trying our best to present the facts as they are. We have found heartfelt evidence amongst our dealings with many Vaisnavas that one's love for a Vaisnava is usually increased as a result of association with yet another high Vaisnava. Raghunatha Das Goswami, the Gaudiya Vaishnava prayojana acarya, after the disappearance of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu journeyed to Vrndavana, experiencing the greatest pain of separation. Yet he found Mahaprabhu wonderfully present in Rupa and Sanatana. "Mahaprabhu is working through them. He is in their literature, in the literature of Rupa and Sanatana, in their deeds, in their movement, they were fully possessed by Mahaprabhu." In this way he found inspiration and consolation. Siksa of advanced Vaishnavas is a fundamental necessity of Krsna consciousness. Here also we are not at all talking about ordinary personalities. The majority of devotees are unanimously in agreement as to the exalted position of Srila Prabhupada yet cannot accomodate another exalted personality. We see this as a lacking.
Whether or not Srila Sridhara Maharaja is a great exalted personality whose lucid instructions are invaluable, in no way at all reflects upon or minimizes the supremely exalted position of Srila Prabhupada.
It is indeed an offense to try to compare them in this way.
"One should not be envious, considering one preacher to be very great and another to be very lowly. This is a material distinction and has no place on the platform of spiritual activities. Krsnadasa Kaviraja Goswami therefore offers equal respect to all the preachers of the cult of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who are compared to the branches of the tree." (Chaitanya-caritamrta Adi-lila 10.7, purp,)
We are speaking of adding love and affection to our lives, not taking any away. It must be the nature of a real Vaishnava to be so accomodating.
We beg the Vaisnava's mercy in that we may commit some offenses ourselves in writing this book. We have tried to avoid all traces of envious criticism and to just present the facts in a scholarly yet devotional way. We are proceeding with this book under the assumption that the truth being self-effulgent will be recognized for what it is, when it is properly presented. In the words of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura: "If we have undaunted faith--we shall achieve all perfection. Therefore you should preach with fearlessness and with utmost energy the message of Rupa and Raghunatha under the guidance of the followers of Sri Rupa." With a straw between our teeth, we humbly beg our readers to please give fair consideration to our presentation and contemplate the significance of the grievous far-reaching effects of the vaisnava-aparadha to Srila Sridhara Maharaja.
Our Affectionate Guardians
Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami
Prabhupada and Srila Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Deva Goswami first met sometime in
the year 1930 in
Our Relationship is Very Intimate
[To Srila Sridhara
Maharaja] "Maharaja, I think you remember the incident when you went to
Herein, we find the history of a transcendental relationship between these two pure devotees of the Lord. Intimately associating and discussing Srimad-Bhagavatam together for a concentrated period of over five years, often for five to seven hours daily, Srila Prabhupada considered that "Krsna and Prabhupada [Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur] liked him to prepare me" for his future expansive missionary activities in the Western world. Satsvarupa Maharaja writes in the Srila Prabhupada Lilamrta, "Here Abhay and Sridhara Maharaja and his followers could remain aloof from the warring factions [of the Gaudiya Math] and together pursue their plans for spreading Krsna consciousness." [Lilamrta, Vol. 1, p. 100] While remembering their intimate talks, specifically in regard to Bhagavad-gita, Srila Sridhara Maharaja recalls the depth in penetration of their discussions. "Once while discussing the verse dadami buddhi yogam tam yena mam upayanti te [Bg. 10.10 "I give them the understanding by which they can come to Me."] I submitted to him that here, upayanti is indicative of parakiya-rasa [paramour relationship]. On this point he agreed with me, saying, 'Yes, at this point there cannot be anything but the parakiya-rasa of Vraja. The conclusion of Bhagavad-gita must come to this."
Please Look After Them
In March of 1982 Srila Sridhara Maharaja said, "When he [Srila Prabhupada] began his translation of the Bhagavad-gita, it was in consultation with me in a very deep way. Anyhow, he requested me many a time that, 'Please look after them; I am taking them this side. You have got some responsibility to look after them.'"
Recognizing Srila Sridhara Maharaja as "a pure Vaisnava, a pure devotee" since the beginning of their relationship, Srila Prabhupada most highly valued his instructions and advice. He would often consult with him regarding the spiritual significance of his failing business and family relationships. Srila Sridhara Maharaja confirmed the profound significance of Srila Prabhupada's suspicion that Krsna's special mercy was especially being shown to him by taking away all his material possessions as per the Srimad-Bhagavatam 10.88.8 verse, yasyaham anugrhnami. [Lilamrta, Vol. 1, p. 88]
An example of Srila Prabhupada's helping with Srila Sridhara Maharaja's preaching work is seen in his appreciation of Srila Sridhara Maharaja's exceptional brilliance for extracting the essence of the scriptures [Lilamrta, Vol. 1, p. 87] by helping to finance the publication of Srila Sridhara Maharaja's original Sanskrit-Bengali work entitled Prapanna-jivanamrta: Life-Nectar of The Surrendered Souls. [Lilamrta, Vol. 1, p. 103] This book, as well as containing many original Sanskrit verses composed by Srila Sridhara Maharaja, is a compendium of supporting verses from various Vaisnava scriptures such as Srimad-Bhagavatam, and includes excerpts from the works of Srila Rupa Goswami. It is divided according to the six divisions of surrender.
"In my householder
life I had opened an office in
In the Srila Prabhupada-lilamrta, Satsvarupa Goswami writes, "Abhay would often accompany Sridhara Maharaja and his assistants at preaching programs, where he would play the mrdanga. And when Sridhara Maharaja fell ill, Abhay led the other devotees on preaching engagements, performing kirtana, playing mrdanga, and giving lectures on the Bhagavatam." [Lilamrta, Vol. 1, p. 100]
While still in
Further confirmation of Srila Prabhupada's implicit trust of Srila Sridhara Maharaja is found in his letter of 30 January 1970 to Satsvarupa Maharaja, the editor of Back to Godhead: "Regarding Sridhara Swami's article: I do not know what sort of article it is, but whatever it may be, the writer's name should be Swami B. R. Sridhara. Besides that, there is no need of giving any short introductory note at the present moment. Whoever sends an article for publication in our paper, and if we publish such article it is to be understood that the version of such article is not different from ours." In other words, even without seeing Srila Sridhara Maharaja's article, he understood that his article was philosophically sound and in agreement with Prabhupada's mood of presentation of philosophy.
After the disappearance of Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura, the Gaudiya Math gradually diverged. With full knowledge of the events surrounding the disintegration of the Gaudiya Math, Srila Prabhupada told his disciples in the same 1973 conversation, "Our relationship is very intimate. After the breakdown of the Gaudiya Math, I wanted to organize another organization, making Sridhara Maharaja the head."
Srila Sridhara Maharaja advised the leaders of the Gaudiya Sangha to confer the title "Bhaktivedanta" upon the then Abhay Caran. [Lilamrta, Vol. 1, p. 103]. Later, his sannyasa-guru, Sripada Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Maharaja, one of the seniormost disciples of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura, and the third sannyasa disciple of Sridhara Maharaja gave sannyasa to Abhay Caran, retaining the title "Bhaktivedanta," and conferring the sannyasa name "Swami."
What I Came to Say, Will Remain
During the lifetime of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur, Srila Sridhara Maharaja once composed a ten stanza poem describing the ontological position of Bhaktivinode Thakur and the line of disciplic succession stemming from Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura was so pleased with the poem's ontological depth and its happy style that he remarked to his sannyasa disciple Goswami Maharaja, "Bhaktivinode Thakura has written this through him. Now I am satisfied that after me what I came to say, that will stay, that will remain, I find in these slokas the siddhanta." And in appreciation of Srila Sridhara Maharaja's writings, Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura informed the editors of the Gaudiya Math's periodicals, "If you include articles written by Sridhara Maharaja, the quality of your publications will be greatly improved." Further confirming Sridhara Maharaja's profound erudition in the sastras, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura gave the title Sastra-nipuna [one who has very deep knowledge of the scriptures] to Srila Sridhara Maharaja. Among other original compositions of Srila Sridhara Maharaja are the ten stanza, pranamami sada prabhupada-padam poem, glorifying Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, which was requested by our Srila Prabhupada to be sung regularly in all his temples, and the sublimely beautiful 72 stanza prema-dhama deva stotra, divinely presenting the full-fledged theistic conception of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's blessed lila. It is about this offering that the late Niskincana Krsna dasa Babaji Maharaja said he found the presence of Srila Rupa Gosvami Prabhupada, the very leader of our sampradaya.
Senior sannyasi godbrothers would often invite Srila Sridhara Maharaja to explain the words of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada. Sridhara Maharaja explains, "I explained and they were satisfied. Prabhupada's discourses were very deep. The general public could not understand. It was deep philosophy, so I was requested to repeat his message by the elevated servants of our guru maharaja. I could repeat this at least to their satisfaction. Gaura Hari Bol. Gaura Hari Bol. Madhusudhan Maharaja and others were always of a very skeptical nature, not prepared to rely on anyone else. But they also spoke that when they listened to me that it was as if they are hearing Prabhupada. So, my type is very akin to that of my guru maharaja. By his grace. Many persons have told us this. That is the ontological color, the ontological representation. The nature of my delivery about spiritual things, I think is that I always talk from the plane above that of knowledge, jnana. Bhakti transcending jnana, the sphere of knowledge. Never on this side, on the side of exploitation. Exploitation, renunciation and dedication. Renunciation is the negative side and then the positive side, the land of dedication. It must be of that characteristic."
Lord Chaitanya's Prophecy Fulfilled
Additionally, when Srila
Prabhupada returned to
Srila Prabhupada wrote
his godbrother Bon Maharaja on
During the Vyasa-Puja celebration, Acyutananda Swami saw Prabhupada and Sridhara Maharaja fully absorbed in a deep discussion in Bengali. Upon inquiry as to what was the nature of their talk, Prabhupada replied, "If I were to tell you, you would faint. Sridhara Maharaja has very high realizations." [Lilamrta, Vol. 3, p. 205]
That Srila Prabhupada
regarded Srila Sridhara Maharaja as his confidential friend and well-wisher
throughout his life is clear in the following letter written by him. Concerned
about his failing health, he had written Sridhara Maharaja asking whether he
should continue living in the United States or return to India to live his last
days in Vrndavana. After receiving Sridhara Maharaja's reply, he wrote,
"What Sripada Sridhara Maharaja has directed, I take it on my head. He is
my always well-wisher. After the departure of Prabhupada [Bhaktisiddhanta] it
is appropriate that I should accept his direction. I got direction from him
that I shall live in this country forever." [Letter to Govinda Maharaja~
Srila Sridhara Maharaja
travelled and preached extensively all over
My Siksa Guru
Throughout his life,
Srila Prabhupada always maintained the highest respect and confidence in Srila
Sridhara Maharaja. He considered that sometimes, when it was not possible for
his disciples to proceed directly under his guidance, that they should take
direction from Sridhara Maharaja. On
In March of 1981 it was related to Srila Sridhara Maharaja that Acyutananda dasa had written about him in his book, Autobiography of a Jewish Yogi:
He compares you to a great general, when he met you. And he tells of the instructions, how Srila Prabhupada told him that he regarded you as his siksa-guru, and that Acyutananda should come here, should come for your instructions. He was in some spiritual difficulty. So, he describes the nine months that he was living here, and his hearing from you, the many different subjects you would speak about. For all these years we have wondered how Acyutananda Swami knows so many things. Everyone has always wondered. And now we can understand, by your association where he learned so many things. His conclusion was that your instructions were nondifferent than our Prabhupada's instructions. But at the same time different. This is my understanding, this is the spiritual sweetness of variety. It's nondifferent but at the same time it's different. And I didn't know that it could be like that. Because as you said in your poem to Srila Bhaktisiddhanta about this world being filled with the cheaters and the cheated. So, Srila Prabhupada was the only person that I ever met who did not cheat me, until I met Your Divine Grace also.
Additionally Hansadutta dasa has revealed that Srila Prabhupada told him twice that he had learned "everything I know" from Srila Sridhara Maharaja.
We are Happy, We are Glad, We are Proud
Although it may be said that Prabhupada encouraged his godbrothers in general, no one anywhere can produce similar statements of endorsement. The fact is that Srila Prabhupada possessed the highest respect and appreciation for Srila Sridhara Maharaja, and Sridhara Maharaja is unparalleled in his understanding and admiration of Prabhupada, as evinced in the following eulogy. "So our Swami Maharaja has done a miracle! Thakura Bhaktivinode conceived and Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura began to translate this conception into action. And we find that through Swami Maharaja, in his last days, it has been fulfilled to such a great extent. We are happy, we are glad, we are proud!"
In response to this, Prabhupada with great humility, his voice choked with emotion, tearfully replied, "So, by guru and Vaisnava, whatever position I have got it is by guru's mercy and the blessings of the Vaisnavas. Otherwise, how I may have? So, I wish that Sridhara Maharaja may bestow his blessings as he was doing always, and may guru maharaja help me so I can do some service. By his grace it has become successful. I have no credit. I do not know how things are happening, because I am not at all qualified: chadiya vaisnava seva, nistara payeche keba. [Without serving an ideal Vaisnava, who can be delivered from the clutches of maya ?]"
And after the disappearance of Srila Prabhupada, Srila Sridhara Maharaja declared,
I consider him to be saktyavesa
and it is confirmed in his writings on his spiritual journey through the
With such appreciation, there should be little doubt why Srila Prabhupada had implicit faith in Srila Sridhara Maharaja. He had even heard directly from Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura of the exceptional qualifications of Sridhara Maharaja. In their last known recorded meeting in 1977, just prior to Prabhupada's leaving this mortal world, we find him imploring Srila Sridhara Maharaja to take up residence at his temple in Sridhama Mayapura.
Please Stay With Me
Excerpt of 1977 Room Conversation in Navadvipa.
Srila Prabhupada: I do not know for how long I will be able to carry on. So, I came to see Sridhara Maharaja.
Devotee: If you all go away, then the world will become dark.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: [to Prabhupada] It is so wonderful that the will of the Lord becomes manifest through someone.
Srila Prabhupada: I want very much, Maharaja, that you come and stay at Mayapura. Because Prabhupada always desired that you preach. He told me quite a few times, "Why don't you pull him out?" [They both laugh.] You know, I also tried to some extent before, but somehow or other it did not work out. Now, why don't you come and stay at Mayapura? Srila Prabhupada [Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura] told me also, "Sridhara Maharaja is one of the finest preachers." I want to take you everywhere. At least at the place we have in Mayapura, people are coming from all over the world. If you just agree, then whatever kind of building you want, I will arrange it for you. They are trying to build a house for me. So both of us will stay there. And whenever you want, you can come here to your math.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: Yes, as long as I am alive to fulfill Prabhupada's desire.
Srila Prabhupada: This is my earnest desire. Since you could not go around the world and preach, at least stay there and people will come to you. I shall make that arrangement. If you stay, then it will be helpful to me also. Sometimes I need to consult with someone and there is no one. There is no one that I can consult. I feel this deficiency very greatly.
Devotee: If he stays in Mayapura, then, all kinds of people will get to hear from him.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, that's right.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: Yes, people from all kinds of cultural backgrounds will come there.
Srila Prabhupada: Yes, and they are already coming. And in that house I will make arrangements for an elevator so that you won't have to go through the difficulty of walking up and down the stairs. You won't even have to move a step yourself. I'll make arrangements for a car and a lift. My disciples are telling me that they will build a house for me. So, both of us will stay in that house. Most of the time I am traveling around, so if you are there, then they can get some guidance. So, Maharaja, please, give me the order and I will make all the arrangements for you.
That Planetarium [The Temple of Understanding] also will be built under your direction. My idea is to combine the Indian culture and the American money-the lame man and the blind man policy. I tell them also that this will be very beneficial for the world.
He Can't Be Converted
In a talk on
Here, in their final meeting, Srila Prabhupada prophetically refers to his imminent disappearance and reveals that it is in this connection that he has come to see Srila Sridhara Maharaja. In friendly jesting, they discuss Sridhara Maharaja's reticence regarding large-scale preaching work. Of himself, Sridhara Maharaja had remarked,
I did not want to become a big person. That is not my nature. I did not want to move around with many people. I am just satisfied with whatever I have. My spiritual thinking is my life. The conclusions of the scriptures, the advices of the mahajanas, to relish them and practice them and to discuss them in a small confidential circle, that is the main goal of my life.
Prabhupada testifies to his having personally heard Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura mark the high qualifications of Sridhara Maharaja, whom he first chose to go to the West. Many of the mission stalwarts recommended Sridhara Maharaja to preach, "He is the fittest man to preach in the West." In this regard, Sridhara Maharaja once remarked,
My guru maharaja wanted me to go to the West for preaching, but I don't consider myself a fit person to preach in the West. Because, you see, I can't follow your intonation. So, [laughing] I must listen clearly, then I shall tell. So, in this way, I told that if you order, I must go, but I don't think that I am fit to preach in the West. Anyhow, it was stopped, and Goswami Maharaja was sent to the West. I am of reserved type, of reserved mood. I am a man of more thinking and less speaking.
When Sridhara Maharaja had been selected, one of his godbrothers came to him and revealed the reason why Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura had chosen him to preach in the West. This godbrother explained,
Do you know why Prabhupada wanted you to be sent to the West? He said, 'Because he can't be converted. You have checked such an ambitious chance. If you went to the West, a big name you could acquire easily as a preacher, but you left it so easily.' I simply told, 'Yes, Maharaja, you please bless me that no other ambition may enter into my heart but to become a servant of Mahaprabhu. I pray for such a benediction from you. I have no ambition for a big name, only that Mahaprabhu may capture the whole of my heart. In this way I pray for your blessings.'
And just twenty-four hours before his departure from this mortal world, Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura called for his beloved disciple Sridhara Maharaja, and asked him to sing the song of Narottama dasa Thakura: Sri-rupa-manjari-pada(the lotus feet of Rupa Manjari are my treasure). Sridhara Maharaja recalls: "So I did, hesitatingly. My nature is always hesitating, pushing back. Then, Kunja Babu asked me to stop. I was not a good singer, so as soon as he suggested, I stopped. Then, Kunja Babu asked Puri Maharaja of Kalna, 'You sing.' So he began. Then, Srila Prabhupada was a little disturbed. 'I don't like to hear the sweet tune of the song,' he said. Then, he stopped singing, and I had to begin again with Sri-rupa-manjari-pada, sei mora sampada. He wanted me to sing that song." That is the fulfillment of life of everyone of us, to be rupanuga followers of Sri Rupa.
Senior godbrothers who witnessed this exchange [notably Srila Bhakti Promod Puri Maharaja] have described it as a "mystic transmission" in which Sridhara Maharaja was given admittance into the eternal entourage of Sri Rupa Manjari. Srila Sridhara Maharaja's humble vision, however, is that he was posted as the gatekeeper, the guardian of devotion (bhakti-raksaka), to protect the storehouse of conclusive truths about the full-fledged theistic conception of Sri Krsna, as given by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Senior godbrothers were of the opinion, that when listening to Srila Sridhara Maharaja's nectarean krsna-katha, it was as if they were listening to Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura. Regularly they requested Srila Sridhara Maharaja to explain Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasawati Thakura's lectures.
Further expressing his appreciation for Srila Sridhara Maharaja's "high realizations" in Krsna consciousness, Srila Prabhupada says, "I want to take you everywhere. At least to the place we have in Mayapura, people are coming from all over the world. Why don't you stay there?" Six times during this conversation Srila Prabhupada implores Srila Sridhara Maharaja to please come and stay with him in Mayapura. Sometimes it is wondered why Sridhara Maharaja apparently did not take up Prabhupada's offer. Sridhara Maharaja explains, "I said, 'Of course I shall try to help you. Sometimes I shall go and stay there with you.' But I really did not think at the time that I shall survive [live longer than] him."
Also, Srila Prabhupada refers to "that planetarium." Srila Sridhara Maharaja is very fond of Sanatana Goswami's most famous work, the Brhad-bhagavatamrtam, in which devotees, devotional service, and Krsna are described very scientifically. On the basis of this transcendental literature, Sridhara Maharaja had contemplated an elaborate preaching exhibition, showing graphically, with the use of dioramas depicting the varieties of material and spiritual planetary systems, how the ultimate spiritual destination is Krsna's own abode, Goloka Vrndavana. Due to insufficient funds, Sridhara Maharaja humbly submitted his idea to Srila Prabhupada, who approved, saying, "It will be built under your direction."
In spite of Srila
Prabhupada's sometimes strong criticism of his godbrothers in response to their
activities Prabhupada wrote on
We are also happy to report that our Godbrother, His Holiness B. A. Paramadwaiti Maharaja has persisted in the same mood of cooperation, in spite of a lack of initial response, in forming a World Vaishnava Association for unifying all of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura's spiritual children and grandchildren and is having some real success.
The innumerable high qualities and praises of our Srila Prabhupada are well known and accepted by the vast majority of Vaisnavas around the world, so there is no necessity of repeating them here. We would however like to list a few of the divine qualities of Srila Sridhara Maharaja:
Just prior to his departure from this mortal world, Srila Prabhupada advised his senior disciples that in his absence, when the necessity arose to consult higher authority for clarification of certain philosophical points, that they should consult Sridhara Maharaja. We humbly submit that the transcendental relationship between Srila Prabhupada and Srila Sridhara Maharaja be viewed and respected in terms of their eternal spiritual positions, and long standing appreciation and affection for each other.
Our Affectionate Guardians: Chapter Two
of Parama-Pujyapada Srila Sridhara Dev Goswami Maharaja
by His Holiness Srila Bhakti Promod Puri Goswami Maharaja
Srila Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Dev Goswami Maharaja exhibited profound natural and intrinsic spontaneous genius in the field of Sanskrit language, literature and thought. Thus a natural affinity was seen in him for composing articles and prayers in Sanskrit and reading Sri Gita, Sri Bhagavata, and all other lofty scriptures which have spontaneous relations with the nature of his divine original self.
In light of his Divine Knowledge, qualities, devotional services, realization in the field of pure devotional siddhantas and his having more advanced access in the opulent, mysterious world of transcendental devotional service, along with limitless devotional qualities as well as the extraordinary capability of retaining (storing up) the super excellencies of the devotional practices and preaching campaigns by special blessings of Srila Prabhupada (refers to Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada throughout this chapter), he is always most worshipable to this insignificant jiva soul as one of my siksa-gurus.
We have especially seen the most brilliant example of Pujyapada Sridhara Maharaja's service in visrambha mood (i.e. with full, firm wholehearted confidence and faith in Sri Guru). He has been unendingly blessed by our Paramaradhya Srila Prabhupada for his grand preaching campaign showing the superexcellency of the teachings of Sri Sri Guru and Gauranga. By the grace of Sri Guru the most efficient analogies, logical arguments and expert systems and techniques of establishing the susiddhanta (the higher truthful devotional conclusions) would always appear in his heart, with effulgent spontaneity, enabling the convincing refutation of opposing opinions and assertions.
Thus Srila Prabhupada was always glad to see the presence of Srila Sridhara Maharaja in any conference or sophisticated debating assembly. Srila Prabhupada highly praised the quality and poetic beauty of his many invaluable compositions. His explanation of Sri Brahma Gayatri, the mother of all Vedas, signifying devotional worship unto Srimati Radharani is deeply appreciated by those fortunate intelligent devotees who are aware of the relishable beauty of pure devotional service. I am bereft of the proper language to elucidate the profound meaning of Sri Gayatri as expressed by Pujyapada Maharaja in the depth of realization, which is that of exclusive devotional servitude to Srimati Radharani.
I have no adequate words to express the pain of separation in the absence of such a rare personality and exalted devotee of the Lord. During his lifetime the wealth of ever-new, beautiful, glorious hari-katha which emanated from the lotus lips of Pujyapada Sridhara Maharaja captured my heart. He is Srila Prabhupada's own associate and he remains by his lotus feet in the nitya-lila, deeply pleasing him by his charming devotional services. Now it is my earnest prayer that he graciously take me over there and engage me in the service of Srila Prabhupada.
Srila Prabhupada has directly defined Pujyapada Sridhara Maharaja as Sri Rupanuga Bhakti Raksaka--The Guardian of Pure Devotion in the line of Sri Rupa and thus also the Guardian of the pure devotional line of Srila Thakur Bhaktivinode. Therefore, this lowly servitor of servitors prays for his grace. How will I be able to attain that most high Sri Vraja Prema without submission and devotion unto him whom Srila Prabhupada has directly and eternally absorbed into the Rupanuga family of Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur.
From the very beginning of Pujyapada Sridhara Maharaja's Math life, his adherence to the devotional services of his own Guru, Srila Prabhupada, was super-resplendent. His calm, quiet nature and bright, beautiful, divine appearance accompanied by full simplicity, solemnity and complete freedom from egoistic emotions, would always attract our hearts. He would so superbly explain each and every word of Sri Gurudeva (Srila Bhaktisiddhanta) in such an intensely devotional melodious way that we would be charmed. Although he was born in a high-class, wealthy family, was handsome and became famous for his scholarly achievements, no trace of false pride was ever found in his life or character. He was never known to give trouble to anyone in any way and never felt himself to be the loser when taking troubles from others. He was completely free from any tinge of malicious anger, which is opposed to pure devotional service. He would always heartily try, with great patience, to resolve any problems arising from the conflicts or disputes between his godbrothers. A natural, simple and most cordial behavior was always seen on the part of this spotless personality setting an exemplary standard for the brahmacaris and sannyasis of our mission.
He is an exalted devotee of the Supreme Lord, Sri Gaurasundara, and is always beautified with the affections of his guru vargas, Sri Guru, and the Vaisnavas. He possesses pure devotional qualities and benevolently blesses all with the Divine Message and matchless wealth of Sri Srila Prabhupada thereby fulfilling his desire.
He is all glorious, forever glorious, everywhere.
Our Affectionate Guardians: Chapter Three
A Short History of Srila Sridhara Maharaja & The Gaudiya Math
refers to Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada throughout this chapter] first saw
me on the birthday celebration of Mahaprabhu in Mayapur. He was giving a
lecture to so many gentlemen who had come from Krsnanagar--educated persons.
When the celebration was finished, Prabhupada told the guests not to cheat him
by engaging in service to Krsna and then going home and engaging in worldly
affairs. He was saying that, next you will say, "Oh, I have some important
business, after that I will come." No, no. If there is a fire and we say
that only after extinguishing the fire I am coming, that is also not necessary.
If the fire bothers the whole world, you do not lose anything. Rather, you can
help the world by discriminating what is burning, and you will be happy.
Forcibly Prabhupada was speaking. At that time I felt so much intense necessity
for Krsna bhajan.
I didn't want to be anywhere else in this living world. So, I had to throw my
head here. I selected the restriction that I must be a disciple here. After
that, my wife and my mother died. And then in the last part of April, I joined
the Math. Bharati Maharaja, Yadav told me, "Oh, you have a better chance."
I answered, "I have only two younger brothers. They will finish their
reading and take to their vocation and then I shall come away." "No,
No," he said, "Your wife is gone. Krsna has removed your wife and
Krsna has removed your mother. He has done enough for you. Again if you
neglect, perhaps some other austerity will come and this life will be
spoilt--no hope." I asked him what he thought I should do? "Come
immediately." I took that advice and joined immediately. I was living
together with my two brothers in a hostel and they came with me there and they
went back crying. I remained in the Math, the Calcutta Math, for some time.
Then I was taken preaching. I was requested to do some service in the press
there, but I had no liking for the press work, proofreading, etc. I had much
liking for the preaching, to go on kirtana
and preaching. So, next I was sent on a preaching tour. First stop was
Dunmarkanda Math and from there to
Then Kuruksetra Math was
established and I was made the Math commander there. I was there alone.
Kuruksetra, was a solitary place at that time. When there was a solar eclipse,
it was a great rush affair-lakhs of people thronged there. Otherwise it was a
solitary place. First
When Prabhupada was sick I attended his sick bed. Anyhow, just one day before his departure he called for me and he asked me to chant Sri Rupa Manjari Pada and at that time I was not sitting in the front. I was hesitating and Kunja Babu, Tirtha Maharaja, asked Puri Maharaja to sing. Then he began singing and Prabhupada, he felt dissatisfaction, "I don't like to hear the tune, the sound. " So Puri Maharaja stopped and I had to chant Sri Rupa Manjari Pada. And the others said that Prabhupada has given you admission to Sri Rupa Manjari rasa. Rasa-seva section, you have been given admission thereby. Before this, about one year back, I composed a Sanskrit poem about Bhaktivinode Thakur and he was very happy to find this sloka. When I first showed it to him he remarked, "very happy style." Then next I heard that he told Sravati Maharaja that, "this poem is so fine, it is not written by him, it is written by Bhaktivinode Thakur himself, through him, it is so very nice." Then once he told to another gentleman, Aprakrta Prabhu, Bhakti Yadav Goswami, that "I am satisfied that after me what I came to say, that will stay, that will remain, I find in this sloka the siddhanta. " Then, before this also, I wrote some article in Gaudiya Prakash. And he remarked to Sramana Maharaja, the editor of Gaudiya Prakash, "If you can gather these types of articles and publish them in your paper, then the standard of your paper will be raised. Such articles are desirable to be published." Anyhow, Prabhupada appreciated my understanding, my realization.
Sastra-Nipuna Sridhara Maharaja
What I would read, I would read carefully. So I caught some errors in The Gaudiya, the weekly reading paper and also in the Brahma Samhita that we published. I took the errors in the Brahma Samhita to Vasudeva Prabhu, but he said, "You have found some errors, but I cannot find hundreds of errors in my own work." In this way; and I did not take it to Prabhupada's notice. But it must have come to his notice, that Sridhara Maharaja detected all these things. So, on the Vyasa-puja occasion, Prabhupada published an address and there he mentioned before my name Sastra-nipuna Sridhara Maharaja--that he has very deep knowledge of the scriptures.
In Rajavjabor I collected
funds for the
vikriditam vraja-vadhubhir idam ca vishnu
sraddhanvito 'nusrnuyad atha varnayed yah
bhaktim param bhagavati pratilabhya kamam
hrd-rogam asv apahinoty acirena dhirah
Anyone who faithfully hears or describes the Lord's playful affairs with the young gopis of Vrndavana will attain the Lord's pure devotional service. Thus he will quickly become sober and conquer lust, the disease of the heart. (Bhag. 10.33.39)
I know that you want to help the Adi-vasis. I also want to help the Adi-vasis. But your help is in a particular way, my help for them is in another way. It has been said in the scripture that to hanker for a thing is heart disease. Sukadeva Goswami mentions in the Bhagavatam: kamam, hrd-rogam, "I want this, I want that, I want thousands, I want crores, millions." That is heart disease and not real. When I was a hog, I devoured a hillock of stools, but hunger is not abated. When I was an elephant I finished a whole forest, but hunger not finished, so hunger can never be finished in this way. So this is heart disease. Sukadeva Goswami in Bhagavatam has given the medicine for this: vikriditam.
When you can accomodate the Absolute to have His full play, unrestrictively, He has the use, His ownership is with everything, every atom, if you can accomodate with such conception of the environment, of the Absolute, then we can get out of this heart disease.
The man was impressed.
With tears he said, "Swamiji, I believe in God." I said, "Your
eyes are giving evidence to that." "I shall pay your money. You go to
GBC Elects Vasudeva as Acarya
After the disappearance of Guru Maharaja, there were the trustees and they said that a Governing Body (GBC) must be formed, so on the tenth day after his departure a Governing Body was constructed. The governing body decided to elect an acarya and the majority of the Governing Body voted for Vasudeva Prabhu to be acarya. [Srila Sridhara Maharaja declined being a member of the Governing Body].
One of the trustees was Vasudeva Prabhu and the other two trustees wanted Kunja Babu to become acarya. Many senior disciples like Nemi Maharaja objected. He said that when a branch is directly connected with the trunk and he is then asked to connect himself with another branch, is that possible? This was the argument he forwarded. My advice was asked by Professor Sanyal [as impartial and respected by all]. I started pleading the case of Vasudeva because he was like my elder brother. I said, "According to Srila Rupa Goswami the service to a devotee is the greatest and it is at the same time service to the Supreme Lord. Although the bhakta is only a part, but yet by serving the bhakta even Lord Krsna is receiving the service, is being served. By trying to serve the Lord directly, the Lord might be served or may not be served. But by serving the Lord's devotee, definately both the devotee as well as the Lord, is served thereby. The Srila Rupanuga vicar according to Srila Rupa Goswami is that once you serve the sadhu, the guru, vaishnava, then the Lord is also being served. So that is how I approached this particular situation. That if an elder godbrother is being served and through him our guru is being served, then we are being successful in our devotional life and when the senior godbrother is a very favorite of the Lord, is dear to the Lord, then I am serving the guru through him and ultimately the Lord Himself. This is the conclusion. My own speculation might say so many things but this is the actual conclusion of the sastras. So when I am approaching such a subject I should be very careful so as to not commit any mistake. I should always see the brighter side to avoid any mistake. We must eliminate all the undesirable elements and try to see the brighter side of everything. Judging it very exhaustively in order not to make any mistake and then even if we fail in that endeavor, then of course there is nothing left for us to do. There is no recourse to that. Do you understand?"
Srila Sridhara Maharaja further related, "I do not know sannyasi or grihasta or anything else. We are attracted not by the external grandeur of Gaudiya Math, but by the teachings. The siddhanta has attracted us and whoever knows the siddhanta, he must be acarya, whether he be a brahmacari or any other thing. The siddhanta, according to that; therefore, Vasudeva Prabhu [who could best represent the siddhanta ] is the best choice." And Professor Sanyal and Sundarananda all supported Vasudeva Prabhu. But several older sannyasis were already very eager to get independence, they and both the trustees were on the other side, opposing Vasudeva Prabhu. Bon Maharaja was excluded from the Governing Body at first--he had been passing his days in something of a revolt, with some difference of opinion with Prabhupada about western preaching. He was living a little separately from the mission. But after the demise of Prabhupada, when he came he hankered so much, so he was included on the Governing Body. There were already twelve in the Governing Body and when Bon Maharaja was added it was thirteen. Then Bon Maharaja went against the side of Vasudeva Prabhu, making five votes on that side and eight votes on the side of Vasudeva Prabhu. That meant a three-fourth majority or more on the side of Vasudeva Prabhu. So, they were defeated. They left and rented a house. But unfortunately, later a defect was found in the character of Vasudeva Prabhu.
Then I thought, I tried my best to purify the mission according to my conscience but it is not to be so, so I must leave the mission, go on, go outside the mission, go and try to fight again to purify the mission according to my ability. That was my mentality, but Madhava Maharaja, Vinod Babu, Kesava Maharaja, and Goswami Maharaja said "No, we can't tolerate that a false man will be in the place of our Guru Maharaja. We can't tolerate that. He is the Acarya of the Gaudiya Math. That is the next position of Guru Maharaja. That this position is overthrown by such a character as Vasudeva Prabhu, we can't tolerate that. I was indifferent and they were fighting. Then Vinod Babu and others made a case. But like a coward, I couldn't meet them at that time. [Satsvarupa Maharaja writes in The Lilamrta, Vol. 1, p. 100, that "Sridhara Maharaja disaffiliated himself from the factions of the Gaudiya Math."] I went to Vrndavan leaving the association of the Math. I didn't fight. They tried their best to keep me with them, but I told, "No, it is not possible for me to remain in the association of these worldly elements." Then I went to Govardhana and stayed in Vrndavana for a month, finishing the Kartikka there. I took Govardhana shila and came here and rented a house for two rupees a month. And here I began my life.
Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math
Sakhi Babu secured this plot [in Navadwip], by his own money he purchased. And here I began my heart, in that cottage. In 1942, on Ratha-yatra day, I entered the cottage here with Govardhana shila. Before that, I waited for some time with Kesava Maharaja in a rented house and sometimes in Nagpur Math with Yadhava Maharaja and Madhava Maharaja. In this way, when I came here I was separated from them. Only one, Gopinandana Prabhu, was here. Then gradually more came, Narasing Kaviraja with a few Oria gentlemen and also Bhuterea Narasinghadeva. Then Govinda Maharaja, who at that time was called Gaurendu Brahmacari, and others came. Krsnadasa Babaji asked me, "you please give attention to this Gaurendu Brahmacari, he is very intelligent and qualified." I started to give a little more attention to Gaurendu Brahmacari and two of the temple devotees could not tolerate that. I wanted to give Gaurendu Brahmacari my education, Sanskrit education, training, etc., and they could not tolerate. They gave a proposal that we must prepare a deed. By this time, 1943, this building had been constructed. They demanded a document, three trustees, two godbrothers and myself. I asked them by what law it would be managed according to them. The reply came--according to the majority of the trust. Then, that means that you two when combined, can do anything and everything with me that you like. Then I told that, "I avoided so many others. I came to live alone. That does not mean that you both will guide me. I can't accept this." Then they began to revolt and disturb. Then there was a compromise. Madhava Maharaja and Goswami Maharaja came and gave a few thousand rupees. Five thousand rupees was in the bank and also some seven thousand or something was to be paid to them and I could be here with absolute proprietorship. Goswami Maharaja came to my help. He gave some loan, four thousand and Yadava Maharaja and others collected some funds from different parts and seven thousand was given out. From that time, I am here in this way. And I do not go for preaching very often. I am always sitting here and very rarely do I go out, from that time. And Madhava Maharaja was always accusing me, "You are deceiving the educated section of the people. Sitting here idle, you are deceiving the people. You have quality, capacity to preach Mahaprabhu's instructions to the educated section especially, but you don't do so. You are deceiving them." His charge was always with me, whenever he came. Almost every year after finishing Gaura Purnima celebration, he used to visit me and he was charging. And also every year at the Calcutta Math celebration where I used to go and deliver lectures in Madhava Maharaja's Math. In this way days passed.
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I met with Swami Maharaja
Only Sridhara Maharaja Can Approach Vasudeva
Krsnadasa Babaji was sent to me. No one could approach Vasudeva Prabhu, they are all very much afraid of his personality. "Only Sridhara Maharaja can approach him. Though he is his greatest enemy, still he has some affection for Sridhara Maharaja." Vasudeva told me that Prabhupada had done many things that cannot be supported according to the scriptures and he incited that, "your name is Sridhara Maharaja. Where is this name mentioned?" I told him "in Gaudiya Kanthahara, you have all printed this and Ananta Samhita. You have this collection of quotations and one hundred and eight names of sannyasis." Vasudeva said, "Oh, that is all false, concoction. No Ananta Samhita. We have concocted this name and Sachin Pandita has given the Sanskrit. So, it is all false. Therefore, we cannot follow strictly the principles of Prabhupada." Then I gave him this answer. In the Veda and Upanisad, there is sin also. The first consideration is Risi, but if we consider that Srimad-Bhagavatam is full-fledged theism and that it is the primary conception of theism-full fledged theism is given in Bhagavatam and Mahaprabhu. And those persons who preach that full-fledged theism and find expression within their heart, anything added to that, it appeared to me, is greater sastra than the Veda and Upanisad. I asserted this before him. Then he remarked, "of course what you say may be true, but that man who feels any suggestion to create new things to help this movement of full-fledged theism must be svarupa-siddha. If he is svarupa-siddha, then what you say is true." That means that he thinks that Prabhupada is not svarupa-siddha. I thought that this was a hard thing, so I became silent. He also became silent. But anyhow, in my talk with him, I found that he may have some compromise with Kunja Babu. I wrote to Madhava Maharaja, saying that I have talked with Vasudeva Prabhu and I felt that a compromise may be affected very soon.
After some time a
proposal came to me that I approach Vasudeva and try to make a compromise;
otherwise, by the way of litigation we won't be able in our lifetime to reach
the solution. Then I approached Bhag Bazaar Math and I asked them that if any
compromise was possible, I had come to take that. They said that they were not
bold enough to approach Vasudeva with any proposal or compromise. They said
that if I was, I could write him in
I told Vasudeva that "you are in the chariot, well equipped and Kunja Babu is on the earth standing with no weapon, but the law is on his side. Still he will compromise. I also think you should do that. They also rendered important service at the time of Prabhupda as you did, we think.
They should not be
cheated from their future service of the mission. Kunja Babu is almost the
co-founder with Prabhupada. And the court case will come very soon and attract
many people and a few things will come against you, your character. You mind
that." "I don't care for that," he said. "That also I know,
that you don't care for anything, but there is another party that has got their
society--high society--and they will be very much blasphemed in faith. Will you
be able to tolerate that? The blasphemy of the other party who has got their
good society in
I put a
proposal, in other places outside
Only Bhag Bazaar Math on
one side and all other Maths including Dakka, Mayapura, and others. Then they
consulted and the devotees at Bhag Bazaar Matha did not leave Bhag Bazaar Math.
And Kunja Babu reluctantly took Mayapura. I told him, "the Bhag Bazaar
Math can again be created in
During negotiations some promise had been given that we could again form a Governing Body--that we shall go on preaching together again, but after the case they did not agree that it would be taken to the Governing Body. Later, another litigation was started, and that is in the court, going on, espoused by others. A 92 case, that is in high court going on, whatever, moving slowly. Hare Krsna. And now Kunja Babu is gone [left this world] and again there is a split. Anyhow, they continued in the possession of Mayapura. That is there. Hare Krsna.
Our Affectionate Guardians: Chapter Four
Srila Sridhara Maharaja Glorifies Srila Prabhupada and ISKCON
Srila Sridhara Maharaja has on numerous occasions resolved problems that arose between Srila Prabhupada and his godbrothers. Some of Srila Prabhupada's disciples, in the early days of ISKCON, while visiting the Caitanya Sarasvata Math, heard Niskincina Krsna dasa Babaji Maharaja chant "Pranamami sada prabhupada-padam," composed by Srila Sridhara Maharaja. At the end he started singing "Jaya Prabhupada, Jaya Prabhupada." The disciples liked that very much and introduced it in all of Prabhupada's temples. When Prabhupada's godbrothers heard of our usage of "Prabhupada" they raised strong objections and it was Sridhara Maharaja who explained to them that it was written in the sastra that the disciple should pronounce the name of his guru with the titles, "om visnupada, Prabhupada, etc.," giving all respect to his guru. He explained that since our Srila Prabhupada was actually fullfilling the desires of their Srila Prabhupada he deserved this title, which was reserved for great personalities.
That Srila Prabhupada's attempts to obtain land in Mayapura were strongly opposed is well known to his disciples. What is not so well known is that Srila Sridhara Maharaja, upon Srila Prabhupada's request (letter to SM-June 6, 1976) spoke with those godbrothers opposing the acquisition of land (350 acres) and convinced them to stop their opposition. In addition, as a result of Srila Sridhara Maharaja's preaching, they became favorably disposed towards Srila Prabhupada. Later, one of those godbrothers, who apparently opposed Prabhupada as early as 1970 (Letter, May 13, 1970), told the leader of the Janata party to give ISKCON full support (BBT Folio~771106RC.VRN) and further, sent a telegram to Prabhupada that he was anxiously praying for his health (771012RC.VRN). In their 1977 meeting in Navadvipa. Srila Sridhara Maharaja inquired from Srila Prabhupada as to the present status of this land acquisition.
Srila Prabhupada: That's what I say. With much
difficulty I translate the books at night and they print it and sell it and
send seventy, eighty thousand dollars every month to me here. Is
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: A man from the Central Intelligence Department took initiation from me. He was asking me about your movement. I told him, "These are nothing but rumors. I know Swami Maharaja since a long, long time. I know him very well and this movement is nothing but a purely spiritual movement." Actually, what they are thinking is that previously they [the British, etc.] used to send the missionaries, then they used to send the merchants and then the army used to come and take over, but those days are no more. Christianity has become much less effective now. Through such a faith of universal religion, if a net could be cast throughout the world--that can be utilized in the future.
And after the disappearance of Srila Prabhupada, Srila Sridhara Maharaja declared,
I consider him to be saktyavesa
and it is confirmed in his writings on his spiritual journey through the
In his poem, "Prayer to the Lotus Feet of Krsna," we find him pleading with Krsna, 'My dear Brother, Your good fortune will come to You only when Srimati Radharani becomes pleased with You.' Seeing his gurudeva Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati as Radharani's delegation and his order as Her divine service, he humbly submitted that he did not feel himself worthy or fit to discharge the divine service, so he enlisted Krsna in the service of his guru. He had completely dedicated himself to the purpose, he was so earnest in his prayer to Krsna that he may discharge the duty that he has been given by his guru maharaja, that divine force, power, came down to help him. Otherwise, it is impossible. It is not a thing of the ordinary level that anyone will do, but the highest thing has been taken down to the lowest position so extensively. It cannot but be the divine power, embodied and in a great intensity and magnitude! So, saktyavesa-avatara, I cannot but take him to be so."
Vision of ISKCON
When asked what should be the vision of ISKCON, Srila Sridhara Maharaja replied that Raghunatha Dasa Goswami gives the real acquaintance of what is ISKCON in his prayer namasrestham manum api saci-putram atra svarupam, I am fully indebted to sri gurudeva. Why? He has given me so many things, the highest conception of the holy name of Krsna, the highest form of sound which contains the highest form of thought, aspiration, ideal, everything. And he has given me the service of our great savior Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and His dearmost assistant, Svarupa Damodara. Then he has brought me in connection with Sri Rupa, who was ordered to distribute the hearts innermost dealings, the highest devotional love, raganuga-bhakti. Then gurudeva has given me Srila Sanatana Goswami who gives us sambandha-jnana, a proper acquaintance with the environment, and he has given me Mathura Mandal, which will help me in my remembrance of Radha and Govinda wherever I shall cast my glance. By his grace gurudeva has revealed the superexcellent position of Radha-kunda, the favorite place of Radha and Govinda for their pastimes and this great Govardhana. And lastly he has given me the hope that one day I can get the service of Sri Sri Radhika and Madhava. I have been given all these assurances by my gurudeva, so I bow my head with all my respects to his lotus feet." If we are conscious of all these spiritual matters, then we can think that we have approached our gurudeva properly. What is our guru? What is his mission? It is filled with all these things. Devoid of that, what is our interest?
ISKCON must not deviate from this line. We have not come here to deceive ourselves, but to fulfill ourselves. ISKCON will fulfill everyone's inner demand, even extenting to the vegetables and stones, taking them to the feet of Mahaprabhu and the goswamis. From village to village, everyone, in every place, should be hunted and approached, "Take the name of Krsna! Come under the flag of Mahaprabhu!" This grand worldwide mission will thrive like anything; it will touch the heavens and cover the earth, and other planets also. That was the aim of Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, and we understand and appreciate that.
Maharaja: I heard
from different people that Swami Maharaja has told his disciples that in
The drum that he is playing, if he accepts you as a player of the bell in that band, then you should consider this to be a great honor.
I told this. My view is different. I saw that he is playing a huge drum, a battle drum, so if you get a chance to play the kasi, or cymbals, along with that, that is a great honor to you. A more dignified position you get. This I am speaking from absolute consideration.
[A few Gaudiya Math sannyasis had many hundreds of disciples, had opened many temples and were at that time preaching with vigor, so they were understandably irritated. For example, in a room conversation in Bhuvanesvar in 1977 Srila Prabhupada, hearing the report of his disciples that Madhava Maharaja had a whole village enthusiastically engaged in Krsna conscious activities, suggested that we should do likewise. (770121R2.BHU)]
Keeping ISKCON Together
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: I am open to all. Generally, I want that both parties will come and I shall try to help that it may not be broken asunder, torn asunder. Such a great thing has been done by Swami Maharaja, I love it very much. That a worldwide movement, organization, that will be broken into factions, I can't tolerate this. So, I like that both parties will come and I shall try to find out a middle solution. But the party in power may not care to come. For a long time I am feeling that whenever I have come upon a person going [away] dissatisfied, dissatisfaction is going within the party-I am unhappy. But the party in power does not care to come to me. I am sufficiently old but I don't like to see that Swami Maharaja's great work is disturbed in such a way. So laudable a thing. Prthivite ache yata nagaradi gram, sarvatra pracara hoibe mora nama. This great action undertaken by Swami Maharaja effectively successful, that is going to be ruined by internal feud? Intolerable. So, if both parties come I shall try my best before I die, that I want to see a united front and a healthy thing. Healthy institution, that is my heart's desire.
Bhakti Caru Swami: That is what most of the godbrothers also feel [At this time, in 1980, this includes many GBC members]. They feel that whatever Srila Sridhara Maharaja says, we will accept that decision.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: In the core of my heart I desire such. That it may be broken is intolerable. It should remain a united front and be victorious over the other religious principles. There are so many enemies in the name of religion, they are flourishing and such a great future will be lost? It is intolerable. And especially Prabhupada asked me to go to the West. I could not go, but Prabhupada has brought the West to me, so I must, I have got some holy duty to discharge about that, I feel. So anyhow, it may not be broken into pieces. United we stand, divided we fall. But if hopeless, then no alternative. For the sake of the truth-we must always side with the truth and not with the falsehood. Hare Krsna. Gaura Haribol. Swami Maharaja took the responsibility of that great unfinished work and did wonderfully successful work and we feel proud for him, we feel pride for his activity and how can we tolerate in our lifetime, within two or three years after his departure it will be broken into pieces? It is intolerable. Hare Krsna. But if for the sake of quality, for the sake of truth, we are to face such a situation, it can't be helped, truth is everything, satyam param dhimahi. Gaura Haribol. Jaya Caitanya.
We would like to point out that in the above discussion Srila Sridhara Maharaja refers to the two parties who are engaged in internal feuding and ruining ISKCON-namely the ruling party, the GBC, and the dissatisfied godbrothers. Srila Sridhara Maharaja clearly wants to help solve their problems but "the party in power does not care to come to me," so he can only advise the disenfranchised. However, the GBC in line with their policy of intolerance to any talk of reform or constructive criticism feared this siksa of godbrothers other than themselves with Srila Sridhara Maharaja and ultimately condemned it.
Our Affectionate Guardians: Chapter Five
Srila Prabhupada's Regard for Srila Sridhara Maharaja
Shortly before he left us in 1977, Srila Prabhupada advised his disciples that they should go to Srila Sridhara Maharaja if they had questions about philosophical matters. This instruction was accepted by the entire GBC at that time and from 1977 until 1981 they did approach Srila Sridhara Maharaja with many important questions. A major portion of this presentation is composed of excerpts from recordings and transcripts from these question and answer sessions with the GBC members.
The GBC Guru Position Paper of March 1978, the GBC's official statement published after their initial question and answer session with Srila Sridhara Maharaja is taken directly from Srila Sridhara Maharaja's instructions to the GBC, with a few noteworthy additions and subtractions.
That it was actually the instruction of Srila Prabhupada to approach Srila Sridhara Maharaja for spiritual instruction is corroborated by taped statements in our possession of Jayapataka Maharaja, Satsvarupa Maharaja, Bhakti Caru Swami, Tamal Krsna Maharaja and many other GBCs [some of whom later changed their minds regarding the validity of their previous statements], as well as by Tripurari Maharaja who was personally massaging Srila Prabhupada's lotus feet when he heard this instruction directly from Srila Prabhupada. Over the years we have seen various facts mysteriously change overnight, according to the political climate, so we have taken the trouble to substantiate our statements with hard copy, taped transcripts and similar irrefutable evidence. Understandably one may change his opinion regarding certain things, but this does not change the essential facts, the actual truth—satyam param dhimahi. "This word [satyam] means that one should not distort the truth for some personal interest." (Bg. 16.3, purp.) Let us not forget that there is an overseer—hrdi sannivisto (Bg. 15.15) and He witnesses our every activity-upadrastanumanta ca (Bg. 13.23) and will give us our just do-karmana daiva netrena (Bhag. 3.31.1). Better to be daivim prakrtim asritah (Bg. 9.13), under the shelter of His divine embrace. One's position in devotional service is after all classified according to one's faith-sraddha-anusari (Cc. Madhya-lila 22.64) and ones ultimate fate is indeed dependent upon qualifying ourselves for the Lords mercy.
Logically speaking, on the basis that this was the last instruction in regards to Srila Sridhara Maharaja and considering that Srila Prabhupada was always very careful, fully aware of what he was doing and that these were his final days with his disciples, this must be regarded as the most authoritative or substantial statement made by Srila Prabhupada in regards to Srila Sridhara Maharaja.
Most Highly Competent of My Godbrothers
Despite Srila Prabhupada's final and conclusive statements regarding Srila Sridhara Maharaja, some take Srila Prabhupada's letter to Rupanuga in 1974 as the conclusive statement about Srila Sridhara Maharaja. In this well-known letter, Srila Prabhupada said that Srila Sridhara Maharaja was responsible for selecting an acarya who proved to be a failure. Srila Prabhupada then warns not to make the same mistake in ISKCON. Then Srila Prabhupada warns that his disciples must be careful in mixing with his godbrothers. That ISKCON did in fact make the same mistake that Srila Prabhupada warns about in this letter to Rupanuga (unauthorized acarya appointments) has been documented by Ravindra Svarupa, a prominent and respected member of the GBC and initiating guru, [known for being one of the deep thinkers of ISKCON] in his paper, "Under My Order," portions of which are presented below in the section entitled, Is Srila Sridhara Maharaja's Mood different than Prabhupada's.
The above mentioned personal instruction of Srila Prabhupada to approach Srila Sridhara Maharaja for philosophy was given three years after the Rupanuga letter was written. This letter of Srila Prabhupada's must be harmonized with the other statements by Srila Prabhupada in order to get an accurate picture of Srila Prabhupada's feelings about Srila Sridhara Maharaja. In addition to Srila Prabhupada's final statements about Srila Sridhara Maharaja (above) there is Srila Prabhupada's letter to Hrsikesa (1969):
I can refer you to one who is most highly competent of my godbrothers. This is B. R. Sridhara Maharaja, whom I consider to be even my siksa-guru, so what to speak of the benefit that you can have from his association.
Srila Prabhupada repeatedly tried to get Srila Sridhara Maharaja to come to his temple in Mayapur (see letter to Srila Sridhara Maharaja in 1976 and Room Conversation in 1977--excerpts in chapter one). In the 1977 Room Conversation, Srila Prabhupada offers to build Srila Sridhara Maharaja a house at the Mayapur temple so Srila Sridhara Maharaja can preach to Srila Prabhupada's disciples-imploring Sridhara Maharaja six times to please do so.
One Important Godbrother, He's Sincere
When there is a conflict between opposing statements, they must be reconciled. Since we, the disciples, take the instructions of our Srila Prabhupada as nondifferent from sastra, we may resolve his apparently conflicting statements as Rupa Goswami did for sastra.
virodho vakyayor yatra napramanyam
yathaviruddhata ca syat tatharthah kalpyate tayoh
When two scriptural statements contradict each other, one is not taken as inauthentic. One should give the meaning in such a way that the contradiction is removed. (Laghu-bhag. 1.212) To harmonize this in an impartial way, we may consider that in the Rupanuga letter Srila Prabhupada was using the apparent activities of Srila Sridhara Maharaja to make a particular point to us, namely that "to elect an acarya" was not an authorized activity of the Governing Body of the Gaudiya Math and that it was contrary to Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura's expressed desire. In Srila Prabhupada's own words, "Therefore we may not commit the same mistake in our ISKCON camp." Srila Prabhupada was also warning us that at least four of his godbrothers had on occasion tried to pollute and steal his disciples, so we must be very careful about them. He made it easier for us by simply saying, "all godbrothers." Although Srila Prabhupada may have in his intense preaching campaign criticized some of his godbrothers, in light of proper sastric vaishnava etiquette, it is improper for his disciples to criticize them, what to speak of publishing criticisms, thereby creating opportunity for repeated vaisnava-aparadha--for which one will be held accountable. Srila Prabhupada also did say that, "the war is over now." Still we see that certain ISKCON devotees have the habit of openly and freely criticizing any and all of Srila Prabhupada's godbrothers as they like. We feel that this is very unhealthy spiritually for them.
The overemphasis on Srila Prabhupada's letter to Rupanuga and minimizing of substantial statements to the contrary merely makes Srila Prabhupada out to be duplicitous-to Srila Sridhara Maharaja he showed great respect but behind Srila Sridhara Maharaja's back he really did not trust him.
Please refer to chapter one, A Transcendental Friendship, for a detailed account of the long and intimate association of these two great devotees. A Transcendental Friendship was originally published in another form as The Guardian of Devotion. An account of Srila Sridhara Maharaja's activities in the Gaudiya Math has been given in chapter three, A Short History of Srila Sridhara Maharaja and the Gaudiya Math. A careful reading of these documents will greatly help us clarify our understanding of these dealings between godbrothers. When we take into account all of Srila Prabhupada's loving exchanges with his dear godbrother Srila Sridhara Maharaja it becomes evident that this letter to Rupanuga is completely inconsistent with their actual relationship and thus must be seen as a warning only.
We point out here that the mistakes made by the leaders of ISKCON were much graver than the alleged apparent mistakes of Srila Sridhara Maharaja [ supposedly incorrect advice and desires to control ISKCON], and they have been forgiven easily whereas Srila Sridhara Maharaja is still to this day maligned. In light of an unbiased look at Srila Prabhupada's letters, room conversations, etc. it can be concluded that Srila Prabhupada did not discourage his disciples from receiving instruction (siksa) from Srila Sridhara Maharaja, on the contrary he encouraged it.
Our Swami Maharaja Has Done a Miracle
When told of the Rupanuga letter, Srila Sridhara Maharaja replied,
Just see the preaching of Swami Maharaja, he has not even spared me, his intimate friend!
When we examine the hearts of these two Vaisnavas we see the real intentions of these pure devotees of the Lord, fully absorbed in devotional service. One must examine all the facts impartially, not just make a superficial estimation based on one letter and general statements and pass a decree for all time. Srimad-Bhagavatam 11.25.3 warns us of this sort of thing, that to forcibly justify one's actions by one's strength is in the mode of passion and thus leads to misery.
Srila Prabhupada many times mentioned that his godbrothers were envious. A scan of the Srila Prabhupada Folio shows that he mentions the names of certain godbrothers repeatedly as envious, consistently excluding the name of Srila Sridhara Maharaja. That Sridhara Maharaja is nonenvious is self-evident (for example) upon listening to the recording of their meeting in 1973 after Prabhupada's triumphant return to India from his successful preaching in the West:
So our Swami Maharaja has done a miracle! Thakura Bhaktivinode conceived and Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura began to translate this conception into action. And we find that through Swami Maharaja, in his last days, it has been fulfilled to such a great extent. We are happy, we are glad, we are proud!
In the same conversation Srila Prabhupada revealed his thoughts at the time,
Our relationship is very intimate. After the breakdown of the Gaudiya Math, I wanted to organize another organization, making Sridhara Maharaja he head.
In the Lilamrta, Vol. 3, page 203, Satsvarupa Maharaja writes of events six years earlier, "In fluent English he [Sridhara Maharaja] began praising Prabhupada's preaching in America, repeatedly using Prabhupada's phrase 'Krsna consciousness.' Swamiji's work, he said, was the fulfillment of Lord Caitanya's prophecy that Krsna consciousness would one day spread all over the world. He laughed and smiled and praised the Krsna consciousness movement with no trace of jealousy." [Room Conversation~October 1967]
Our Affectionate Guardians: Chapter Five ~ Doubts
Is Srila Sridhara Maharaja's Preaching Different Than Prabhupada's?
That Srila Prabhupada and Srila Sridhara Maharaja's understanding of the philosophy is congruent is clear from the following excerpt from chapter one: A Transcendental Relationship:
Krsna and Prabhupada [Srila Bhaktisiddhanta] liked [him] to prepare me. Sridhara Maharaja lived in my house for many years [at the time of the breakup of the Gaudiya Math and afterwards], so naturally, we had very intimate talks and he was my good advisor. I took his advices, instructions, very seriously because from the very beginning I know he is a pure Vaisnava, a pure devotee, and I wanted to associate with him and I tried to help him also. Our relationship is very intimate. (Srila Prabhupada, 1973 Room Conversation)
Contradictions: Real and Apparent
between Srila Prabhupada and Srila Sridhara Maharaja provide us with a chance
to more deeply scrutinize our understanding of Krsna consciousness and help us
make progress towards our infinite Lord. Srila Prabhupada himself wrote in a
In a Conversation on
Madhudvisa: In the eighteenth chapter of the Bhagavad-gita, in one of your purports, you say that a sannyasi should never discourage a young man from getting married. But on the other hand, we understand that a sannyasi should encourage young men to remain brahmacari. So it seems to me like there's some kind of contradiction.
Prabhupada: According to time and circumstance. Just like Krsna says, nityatam kuru karma tvam: "Always be engaged in your prescribed work." (Bg, 3.8) And at last he says, sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam varja. (Bg. 18.66) So now you adjust. That is not a contradiction. It is just suitable to the time and circumstance.
Madhudvisa: But is there some conclusion?
Prabhupada: The real aim is that you have to become the eternal servant of Krsna.
When apparent contradictions are not resolved by the advancing devotee, they give rise to real contradictions. Real contradictions deviate one from the pure devotional conclusions. These real contradictions are based on anarthas and they must be transcended. Rasam-anandam is the purest white, and material desire is the darkest black. In the transition from the dark black of material life to the pure white of our highest spiritual prospect, there are many shades of gray through which we must pass, resolving apparent contradictions along the way.
What follows is an example of an apparent contradiction in the writings of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Sridhara Maharaja. Resolving this is a valuable exercise of our Krsna consciousness. In Srila Prabhupada's translation of Bhagavad-gita As It Is, he translates the following verse thus:
aparyaptam tad asmakam
paryaptam tv idam etesam
"Our strength is immeasurable, and we are perfectly protected by grandfather Bhisma whereas the strength of the Pandavas, carefully protected by Bhima is limited." (Bg. 1.10) The same verse, however, is translated quite differently by Srila Sridhara Maharaja in his Bhagavad-gita (Hidden Treasure of the Sweet Absolute). Here, we find the verse reads as follows: "Our army, headed by Bhisma, is inadequate, whereas the army of the Pandavas, protected by Bhima, is competent." Which translation is correct? Could both of them be correct?
Srila Prabhupada dedicated his Gita commentary to Baladeva Vidyabhusana (who gave the world Govinda bhasya) because his concern was to give the overall siddhanta of our sampradaya to the world, rather than focus on a few of the precious jewels of our devotional conclusions in his commentary. Many previous translations of the Gita had not produced a devotee, yet, Srila Prabhupada's Gita produced and continues to produce thousands of devotees. No doubt he had something specific in mind as he set out to translate and comment on the Gita.
is a deep book, from which even the highest truth of parakiya-bhava can
be drawn directly from the text by those who are themselves deeply immersed in
the mellows of pure devotion. Srila Prabhupada relished these finer points of siddhanta
with Srila Sridhara Maharaja when they lived together at
Srila Sridhara Maharaja however, preferred to keep close company with fewer devotees and examine and relish the finer points of Gaudiya siddhanta. He tended to discuss the mood of the circumstance rather than relate the circumstance itself, much like Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, the contemporary of Baladeva Vidyabhusana. Their differences are only apparent, and they are analogous to the differences in emphasis and style of Baladeva Vidyabhusana, who gave the siddhanta as it is, and his substantial guru Visvanatha Cakravarti, who consistently presented the hidden treasure in his commentaries. On this particular text, Baladeva Vidyabhusana translates aparyaptam as immeasurable; thus, giving the upper hand to Bhisma, and paryaptam as limited, while Visvanatha Cakravarti gives the upper hand to Bhima. The Sanskrit dictionary tells us that both these words, aparyaptam and paryaptam, can have opposite meanings, and can therefore be used to support either translation.
Bhisma was the greatest of ksatriyas; thus, he certainly strengthened Duryodhana's army, in accord with Srila Prabhupada's translation. Yet, Bhisma also was a weak element in the military arrangement of Duryodhana, for although outwardly the strongest to oppose the Pandavas, he was inwardly the weakest. Bhisma was formally on the side of Duryodhana, while at heart and in spirit he was a member of the Pandavas army. Bhisma loved the Pandava brothers and Sri Krsna with all of his heart. How could such a person, however strong militarily, be someone Duryodhana could count on?
The straight truth as it is, is that Bhisma was a formidable fighter and an asset to Duryodhana. The hidden treasure is that he was weakened in his support for Duryodhana because of his deep love for the Pandavas. This sweet truth is also alluded to in Srila Prabhupada's commentary on text eleven of the first chapter of the Gita. There Srila Prabhupada says, "Although he [Duryodhana] knew that the two generals [Bhisma and Dronacarya] had some sort of affection for the Pandavas, he hoped that all such affection would now be completely given up by them, as was customary during the gambling performances."
When discussing the lives and writings of the acaryas, we should enter into such discussion with a feeling for what Vaisnavism is all about, otherwise we may become victims of offenses to Vaisnavas (aparadha). Their lives are all about love, which resolves all contradictions. Love harmonizes all things as nothing else can. The lives of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Sridhara Maharaja and their relationship with one another are something from which we can learn about the spirit of love. To date, there has been considerable debate about the nature of their relationship. Be assured it is one of absolute love, which as Ujjvala-nilamani tells us, moves in a crooked way. Thus, it is not understood by all, and certainly not without looking beneath the surface. In love there must be differences, apparent differences. The higher harmony is that which we seek, beyond the material conceptions of friends and enemies.
In the Madhya-lila of the Caitanya Bhagavat, Vrndavana dasa Thakura writes, "Sometimes there are differences of opinion among the Vaishnava devotees of the Lord which might appear like an argument, but in fact it is an amazing relationship between devotees. Foolish rascals, who do not understand this exchange, praise one Vaishnava and denounce the other. Such a mentality will lead to destruction of faith and knowledge." And in Antya-lila: "The Vaisnavas are extensions of the Lord's limbs, so how can one benefit by serving him with one hand and inflicting pain on Him with the other? One who hears, glorifies, and understands these transcendental subjects can always avoid vaisnava-aparadha."
Some say that Srila Sridhara Maharaja's tasteful illuminations of the most sublime aspects of madhurya-rasa and the tantamount importance of Srimati Radharani and Her dearmost Rupa Goswami [Manjari] are not in line with Srila Prabhupada's teachings. One GBC even requested Srila Sridhara Maharaja to not introduce madhurya topics into ISKCON. But the fact of the matter is that we cannot deny that we are a madhurya-rasa sampradaya--and it is just this which distinguishes us from other sampradayas. It is our Gaudiya Sampradaya's prominent teaching and was dealt with skillfully and tastefully by Srila Prabhupada. He continually warned us not to read Tenth Canto neglecting the first Nine Cantos but presented Krsna Book early on, showing us the standard. We invite our readers to read Loving Search For the Lost Servant by Srila Sridhara Maharaja in this light. Srila Sridhara Maharaja's article Fools Rush In Where Angels Fear to Tread [Bookmark for later] clearly shows him upholding the dignity of the Rupanuga Gaudiya Sampradaya.
Srila Prabhupada wrote,
Oh! It is not that the gopis
are boycotted. The policy should be that because people may not understand the gopis--they
may think they are ordinary girls--we should be careful how we present the
It does not mean that we shall not even utter the word gopis, that
we have taken a vow to boycott the gopis. No.
They are worshipful devotees. How can we avoid them? [Srila Prabhupada Conversation,
One who has not been attracted by the transcendental beauty of rasa will certainly be dragged down into material attraction, thus to act in material contamination and progress to the darkest region of hellish life but by understanding the conjugal love of Radha and Krsna one is freed from the grip of attraction to material so-called love between man and woman. Similarly if one understands the pure vatsalya, sakhya and dasya love for Krsna one will not be attracted by their material counterparts. [Caitanya-caritamrta Adi-lila 4.35]
Another testiment to Srila Sridhara Maharaja's preaching being in concert with Srila Prabhupada's is that many of Srila Prabhupada's stalwart sannyasis formerly greatly appreciated Srila Sridhara Maharaja's penetrating realizations:
For example, Jayapataka
Maharaja, hearing Srila Sridhara Maharaja's explanation of Bhag. 10.82.49
wherein the innermost hearts' feeling of Srimati Radharani is poignantly
expressed said, "Please go with us to
Also, Jayadvaita Maharaja responded with, "Yes, that's very clear. Thank you very much," in appreciation of Srila Sridhara Maharaja's lucid explanation of how to see the guru in light of the nikunjo yuno rati keli siddhai verse of the samsara prayers [Our spiritual master is very dear because he expertly assists the gopis in tastefully arranging the conjugal loving affairs of Sri Sri Radha and Krsna].
And in 1980 Satsvarupa Maharaja was so encouraged by the depth and clarity of Srila Sridhara Maharaja's realizations that he made copies of Sridhara Maharaja's darshans and freely distributed them to his disciples along with a taped introduction by himself, "I think its very encouraging for everyone to hear how our spiritual uncle Srila Sridhara Maharaja . . . [is helping us]."
Bhakti Caru Swami revealed confidence in Srila Sridhara Maharaja's capabilities at the time, "That is what most of the godbrothers also feel. They feel that whatever Srila Sridhara Maharaja says, we will accept that decision."
In March of 1981, Tamal Krsna Maharaja happily expressed his appreciation for Srila Sridhara Maharaja's nectarean krsna-katha, "The babies are full of milk now. We are well fed. We have been fully fed today. We think you are like a surabhi cow."
Giriraja Maharaja wrote in September of 1978, "Both in terms of relative rank and absolute realization, Sridhara Swami is far beyond any of us."
Srila Sridhara Maharaja was especially qualified to speak of the higher dealings of Krsna and his confidential associates, always doing so in the most tasteful way. His explanations are readily available to all in any of his innumerable books and tapes.
The acaryas in our parampara are predominantly of madhurya-rasa. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's lila is audarya-lila--the distribution of spontaneous love of God [samarpayitum unnata ujjvala-rasam sva-bhakti-sriyam]. (Cc. Adi 1.4)
prema-rasa-niryasa karite asvadana
raga-marga bhakti loke karite pracarana
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu desired to taste the sweet essence of the mellows of love of God [madhurya], and He wanted to propagate devotional service in the world on the platform of spontaneous attraction. (Cc. Adi 4.15)
The very name of Srila Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Deva Goswami Maharaja--Bhakti Raksaka, means literally Guardian of Devotion, a name given by his Guru Maharaja, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, in recognition of his purity in the line of Srila Rupa Goswami. Srila Sridhara Maharaja's penetrating explanation of Sri Brahma Gayatri [Bookmark for later] as signifying the summit of devotional worship unto Srimati Radharani [Radha-dasyam] revealed his profound depth of realization and is deeply appreciated by those fortunate and intelligent devotees who are aware of the relishable beauty of pure devotional service. He revealed the precious gift of the hidden treasure of the internal purport of Sri Bhagavad-gita, revealing profound inner-truths — that are the very life-nectar for the devotees hearts and spiritual senses. His brilliant and penetrating madhurya commentaries charmed and captured our hearts but Srila Sridhara Maharaja always gave us a pound of caution with every ounce of madhurya nectar. His distaste for the sahajiya section was well known-referring to the premature siddha-pranali advocates as pukura-curiwale — pond thieves, their so-called sakhi identity being false and imaginary and their achievement sheer concoction — the anartha-nivrti stage is not effected thereby — they are trying to jump over the many planes of consciousness without recognizing the ontological gradation from Viraja to Brahmaloka, Vaikuntha and Goloka.
Examine the quality of Srila Sridhara Maharaja's writings-one cannot help but realize his substantial connection with the topmost object of our aspirations, his total internal absorption and dedication to the highest ideals of Vaisnavism. That Srila Sridhara Maharaja continuously presented the most profound realizations and deepest knowledge of the scriptures is self-evident to the unbiased observer. And this is the critereon for judging a Vaishnava as given by Srila Rupa Goswami Prabhupada, to evaluate his internal absorption not judge his external activities. One simply has to read his literatures or listen to recordings of his talks to see that his unique presentation of the Gaudiya siddhanta is unprecedentedly crystal clear and worthy of the title Sastra-nipuna [one who has very deep realization of the scriptures] awarded by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura.
Those who have nourished their wilted creeper of devotion in the divine elixer spontaneously everflowing from Srila Sridhara Maharaja's humble personage cannot properly and sufficiently express his endless glories. Srila Sridhara Maharaja tirelessly preached to the dissatisfied, the disinterested and faithless who were headed for the unknown quarter. Such a grand affinity for Krsna-katha is indeed difficult to achieve--a symptom in itself of his noble and lofty position. For a glowing eulogy of Srila Sridhara Maharaja by the seniormost Gaudiya Vaisnava on the planet, we refer the readers to chapter two: [Exalted Glorification of] Parama-Pujyapada Srila Sridhara Dev Goswami Maharaja by His Holiness Srila Bhakti Promod Puri Goswami Maharaja.
As a final substantiation in this section we present an excerpt illustrating the expert manner that Srila Sridhara Maharaja explained to one of Srila Prabhupada's disciples, Srila Prabhupada's statement in Chaitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila 1.46: "In all the ancient literatures of devotional service and in the more recent songs of Srila Narottama dasa Thakura, Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura and other unalloyed Vaishnavas, the spiritual master is always considered either one of the confidential associates of Srimati Radharani or a manifested representation of Srila Nityananda Prabhu."
Srila Sridhara Maharaja answers: We may see this according to rasa-vicara. In madhurya-rasa, the guru is the representation of Radharani, and in other rasas, he is the representation of Nityananda Baladeva. Two divisions. Representation of Himself, representation of the highest servitor in a particular department, and also representation of any of the special servitors in any of these camps. These threefold rasas may be discussed and understood. The three phases. First, the Lord Himself is guru. Next, we are told the most favorite and that most favorite may be in a different rasa. Then, the three there: in the first darsana--only the top of Everest. And next, the nearby peaks, and then, what is suitable for my special personality according to the atmosphere, so much cold, where I can take shelter, what is suitable to me-what cave will be suitable for me, for permanent living; in this way, it is to be adjusted at least in three different planes. First to the Lord Himself, then in the next stage we find the first class servitor, the head of every department of service and finally, thirdly, my particular department. One servitor may have different departments, then any particular department there is head Under his care, I shall begin my eternal life. The manjari class. Radharani-Rupa Manjari. First Krsna, Radharani, Rupa Manjari, -madhurya-rasa. Krsna, Baladeva and then Subala or any other friend-sakhya-rasa. In this way. In vatsalya-rasa, Krsna and Yasoda, Nanda, and then any other helping hand to Yasoda, Nanda. In this way, the location is to be traced. And there are three stages.
Devotee: So, there are different groups . . .
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: There are different groups. And then fighting between the groups: Radharani's group and Candravali's group, they are of fighting temperament. That is also there . . .
Devotee: There, all are harmonized in the transcendental plane, there is complete harmony within.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: But that harmony, that difference is there also to promote the intensity of service. There, it is harmonized. The competition; there, there is competition. Swami Maharaja utilized this competitive spirit in his propaganda. That competition there enhances the central capital. So, that has been given, that plan, that design has been accepted there. The competition, the Yogamaya, the competition enhances the degree of serving mood. And that is utilized. What is here is a perverted reflection. So, competition is also utilized, the spirit of competition. And because that is all harmonizing, that is all good
Origin of the Jiva
The controversy concerning the origin of the jiva has been undecided for many years. We are amazed that not only hasn't this issue been resolved satisfactorily but a considerable number of devotees have reached the wrong conclusion. Although one's ego perhaps doesn't like to accept that Srila Prabhupada sometimes preached down to us or we are unable to personally adjust his conflicting statements on this subject, we nevertheless are more or less forced to accept the siddhantic conclusions as enunciated by all the acaryas in our line (and even those out of our line for that matter). At the time, Gour Govinda Maharaja, who was a prominent and respectfully situated ISKCON acarya was so much disturbed by the GBC's ongoing superficial handling of this and other issues, that he very privately revealed to several of his closer disciples that he was seriously considering leaving ISKCON. Pejwara Swami, one of the most respected and well known swamis in the line of Madhva, who is especially respected and sought after by many ISKCON leaders, in a visit to Sridhama Mayapura just prior to Gaura Purnima 1995, responded upon hearing of this controversy with, "the siddhanta is clear [that we do not fall from Vaikuntha], how can there be any question?"
Proponents of the "Fall from Vaikuntha Theory" say that they cannot tolerate that "we" say that Srila Prabhupada says things which are not true. Isn't it the maxim of the Krsna conscious preacher, to convince others one way or another, "by hook or by crook" -- yena tena prakarena manah krsne nivesayet? -- Somehow or other bring them to Krsna consciousness and later gradually introduce the rules and regulations [and finer philosophical points] (Rupa Goswami) Didn't Srila Prabhupada continuously do this? So many examples come to mind, such as tricking the child to take medicine -- "it's candy." What "we" really say is that we can't tolerate that they say that -- "when Srila Prabhupada says something which is not in accordance with sastra, that it is not a preaching strategy -- that he has introduced (manifested) a new siddhantic conclusion" (which just happens to be in opposition to all existing sastra ).
The bottom line is that nowhere does sastra state that "the living entity falls from the spiritual world." There are many ambiguous quotes which can easily be misconstrued and misunderstood and in the bhakti-sandarbha there is the scant single reference that states that a person who eats grains on Ekadasi becomes a murderer of his mother, father, brother and spiritual master, and even if he is elevated to a Vaikuntha planet, he falls down. This is however a far cry from the many many quotes that directly and clearly state that the living entity never falls from the spiritual world. This subject has been covered more thoroughly in a separate presentation entitled, Origin of the Jiva. Bookmark for later.
Even in cases such as King Citraketu being cursed, his bhakti was not covered as is clear from his prayers as Vrtrasura. Or consider Jaya and Vijaya, the gatekeepers in Vaikuntha who are often given as examples of fall down to the material world. Srila Sanatana Goswami states in Brhad-bhag. 2.4.183, saktya sampaditam yat tu sthiram satyam ca drsyate, that all the manifestations of the internal potency are stable and real--once one attains bhakti it becomes part of the devotees essential nature and cannot be destroyed or reduced. Additionally, Srila Jiva Goswami states in his Priti-sandarbha, 7, that when Jaya and Vijaya became demons, within they knew themselves and kept their spiritual form. They came down as part of the Lord's lila. And Srila Prabhupada writes, "Therefore it is to be understood that when Jaya and Vijaya descended to this material world, they came because there was something to be done for the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Otherwise it is a fact that no one falls from Vaikuntha." Bhag. 7.1.35, purport.
Some advocates of the Fall Theory, theorise that since there are so many emphatic scriptural statements that once going to the spiritual world, one never leaves [i.e. Bhagavad-gita] -- that fall is only possible for those nitya-muktas who are already in the spiritual world but not for the nitya-baddhas who perfect their devotional service in the material world and thereby qualify for entrance into the spiritual world. There exists not one shred of evidence in sastra to support this theory [nor do sanskrit terms exist for it] and it is offensive. This theory implies that nitya-muktas (eternally liberated residents of Vaikuntha) are inferior to baddha-muktas (the bound who become liberated). Nitya-muktas must come to the material world to become really fall-proof-to get a better education-i.e., one cannot be a gentleman unless he visits a prison house. It also implies that bhaya-bhakti, devotion produced by fear or suffering, is superior to prema-bhakti, for only bhaya-bhakti gives complete protection to a devotee. It also introduces the unallowable concept of fear into the spiritual world, for if one can fall down and witness others fall down, certainly there must be fear-which decries the very name Vaikuntha (without anxiety).
Ideas such as falling from Vaikuntha are illogical. They are based on one's material conception projected upon the transcendental reality. Arguments given in support of fall down-which ultim-ately seek to impose an imperfection on the perfect world or on the perfect devotees-are only kutarka, false logic. They stem from a poor understanding of the Lord's svarupa-sakti. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur in his Vivrti on Bhagavatam 3.7.11 emphatically states exactly this. All planets in the material world are places of fall down and by the influence of maya, people equate Vaikuntha to these material planets. If this was correct, then what would be the significance of Lord Krsna's statement, abrahma-bhuvanal lokah . . . punar janma na vidyate ? What would be the value of His statement that in the material world all beings are fallible and in the spiritual world all beings are infallible?
We have personally witnessed prominent leaders, unable and/or unwilling to answer the overwhelming evidence against their conclusions, shake their heads and say "anyway, we accept what Prabhupada says." But Srila Prabhupada says both things. It is not possible that both theories are true, as they are contradictory (and not examples of acintya-bhedabedha-tattva ), so this is an embarrassing position for the Fall advocates, having been strongly advocating the Fall Theory for so long. Prabhupada has given us what is clearly the siddhanta, that the living entity never falls and he has sometimes told that we should "be careful, you can fall from any position, even from Vaikuntha," sometimes stating this strongly, etc.-the primary emphasis being on getting fixed up and only secondarily that you can fall. In Srila Prabhupada's books [referred to as the spiritual lawbooks for the next 10,000 years], he mostly supports in his purports the no fall-down from Vaikuntha and sometimes his statements appear to be ambiguous. Most of Srila Prabhupada's statements which appear to favor the Fall theory are found in letters, lectures and conversations. Thus it could be said that it appears to not be a clear case either way -- as the confusion of many devotees attests. So, we must harmonize these conflicting statements. Those who know the siddhanta have no problem with this, however many devotees do not understand or are not aware of the actual siddhanta.
We have seen GBC proponents of the Fall Theory change their position on the jiva issue in midstream. Formerly they postured that the living entity fell from Vaikuntha. In light of (surprising to them) sastric evidence to the contrary, they changed their view to the ambiguous 'we both fell and we didn't fall,' with the GBC mandated stipulation that no one can state anything definitive regarding this matter, as we are judging Srila Prabhupada's intention from our lower position. However, because the statements of Srila Prabhupada that we fell from the nitya-lila of the Lord differ from the siddhanta it is very clear (providing we know clearly what is the siddhanta ) that it is a preaching strategy. To think that Srila Prabhupada invented a new siddhanta [which is diametrically opposing all existing siddhanta ] is incorrect and is no credit to Srila Prabhupada. This is adequately substantiated with quotes from Srila Prabhupada below. Certainly we recognize that Srila Prabhupada added many divine realizations to the existing siddhanta, providing further enlightenment, but it is not at all Srila Prabhupada's mood to directly oppose Vedic authority and the parampara in this presumed way. Hardly is it a glorification of Srila Prabhupada to present him as the origin of a new "siddhanta " which contradicts the direct words of Krsna Himself. We find this idea very disturbing. Aside from above mentioned manytimes ambiguous statements of fall [and equally no fall] by Srila Prabhupada in his own writings and talks, it is not the conclusion of sastra that the living entity falls from the spiritual world. To think that after so much purification and seva in the progressive elevation of Krsna consciousness-finally obtaining the platform of ecstatic perfection of love of God (krsna-prema), that we can in a second be thrown down to repeated births and deaths and entanglement in lust and greed and other material qualities-qualities which we have spent our lives purifying ourselves of, is also absurd. To claim this, means that we do not understand this progressive development in Krsna consciousness from sraddha to anartha-nivriti to nistha, ruci, bhava and finally krsna-prema --one cannot understand the ultimate goal of life and claim that "that place from which having gone, one never returns" is fallible. We have dealt more thoroughly with this topic in our separate Jiva Presentation. Interested devotees desiring to understand the origin and bondage of the jiva are recommended to study this subject thoroughly. The truth is what it is and will not be hidden for long, despite so many arguments to the contrary. As the Sat-sandarbhas, it is difficult to refute. We are all hopefully looking for the Absolute Truth (Krsna) so we must pursue it. Personal investigation has revealed that most devotees do not understand the philosophical points presented therein nor really care to. The arguments presented against this line of siddhanta seem to be based more on sentiment than logic and philosophy. Fair and open discussion is discouraged in spite of the great controversy. We would venture to say that opponents would be made to look completely foolish in an open debate where both sides are represented equally. We are reminded of many preaching encounters with the fanatical section of Christians who, when defeated, either walk away or change the subject. What is our position if in the name of blindly following the guru we go against sadhu and sastra . Those who are real sadhus (fixed up devotees who know the siddhanta ), are very upset by the authorities decision in this regard. One prominent GBC acarya in a private conversation responded to the statement that "there are a great many statements (both texts and purports) which clearly and definitively state that the living entity never falls from the spiritual world," with, "that's in Prabhupada's books?" It was then revealed that he seldom reads Srila Prabhupada's books.
To try to separate Srila Prabhupada from his guru and from the predecessor acaryas such as Jiva Goswami is unthinkable, yet there are those who propose just such a thing, that Prabhupada is the origin of a new sampradaya -- a new siddhanta. Srila Prabhupada emphasized over and over again that his only credit was that he did not manufacture anything, that he followed his guru and sastra exactly. A few notable quotes by Srila Prabhupada follow:
Guru must come from the parampara system by disciplic sucession (and) five thousand years or five millions of years, what was spoken by the Supreme God or guru, the present guru also will say the same thing. That is guru. That is bona fide guru. Otherwise he's not guru. Simple definition. Guru cannot change any word of the predecesssor. [730822LE.LON]
My only credit is that I am presenting Krsna as He is. That's all. I am not diluting Krsna. And therefore because it is pure, everyone accepts . . . So many swamis came before but no devotees, now they come by the thousands because we present the pure thing . . . We have not manufactured anything. [721130BG.HYD]
I am not perfect. None of us claim to be perfect; we have so many faults. But because we don't speak anything beyond Krsna's teachings, our teaching is therefore perfect. [Consciousness: The Missing Link, pages 13-14]
The parampara system does not allow one to deviate from the commentaries of the previous acaryas. By depending upon the previous acaryas, one can write beautiful commentaries. However, one cannot defy the previous acaryas . . . This system of commenting in one's own way is fully condemned by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu."[Chaitanya-caritamrta, Antya-lila 7.134. purport]
You cannot change even a
single letter of the sastra.
They cannot be changed."[Lecture
Don't be lazy. Always try to understand Krsna. Siddhanta, by siddhanta, by Vedic conclusion. Not by manufacturing ideas-siddhanta. [760909SB.VRN]
Personally I have no
credit for myself, but I am trying to act as a faithful servant of my
predecessors and just presenting without any adulteration the message which I
have received from my spiritual master. [Letter to Krsnadasa,
Actually I cannot claim
any credit for myself, but I say if any credit is due, it is due to the fact
that I have not deviated from the original instructions. Whatever I have
learned from my spiritual master I have presented before you and similarly
whatever success you are having only it is due to the purity of the message
which you are carrying. [Letter to Krsnadasa,
I also thank you very
much for your appreciation of my books and letters and for my speaking in the
meetings. They are not my words, as I have repeatedly informed you that I am
simply the bearer of the message from Lord Chaitanya through the disciplic
succession and I do not make any addition or subtraction. [Letter to Bhagavan
In a 1971 conversation with Revatinandana, Srila Prabhupada said,
These questions are not to be discussed in public. They require a much higher understanding. For the public it should be, 'This is matter, this is spirit.' That's all.
This is one example of a preaching technique by Srila Prabhupada. A well known example of preaching something other than siddhanta is that of Jiva Goswami's advocation of parakiya-rasa over svakiya-rasa for the spiritual benefit of his disciples, while simultaneously always following Rupa Goswami internally. Srila Prabhupada writes,
He could understand that sahajiyas would otherwise exploit the parakiya-rasa, as they are actually doing at the present. Caitanya-caritamrta Adi-lila 10.85, purport
A further example is that
of Bhaktivinode Thakura's Sri Krsna Samhita wherein he states that
of Lord Krsna are not to be taken literally and further that the descriptions
of the planetary systems in the fifth canto of the Srimad Bhagavatam
are allegorical. How are we to view these statements? Certainly he has a
particular preaching purpose in mind. Srila Prabhupada wrote in 1968, "The
statements of Bhaktivinode Thakura are as good as scriptures because he is a
liberated person." [Ltr Janardhana
Also, Jiva Goswami states in his Tattva-sandarbha that he cites only those portions of the revered Sridhara Swami's commentary that follow the natural spirit of the Bhagavatam and its Vaishnava conclusions. This is because Sridhara Swami interspersed his Bhagavatam commentaries with monistic advaitin interpretations not as conclusions, but as a tactic to attract the followers of Sankara from their dry cakes of impersonal philosophy to the Bhagavatam's nectarean descriptions of Krsna-lila. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu Himself greatly appreciated Sridhara Swami's Bhagavatam commentaries and became very much disturbed when Vallabacharya did not show proper respect to Sridhara Swami.
Most of our readers must also be aware that the siddhanta presented by Srila Sridhara Maharaja [and the entire Gaudiya Math] is the same as In Vaikuntha Not Even the Leaves Fall, which is the Gaudiya Vaisnava siddhanta. Not understanding this jiva-tattva properly many called Srila Sridhara Maharaja a liberationist and even accused him of being a Mayavadi for putting forth that which is clearly and repeatedly enunciated by Srila Jiva Goswami in his Sat-sandarbhas. Not having access to these literatures, most devotees are not aware of the extent, nor the depth of Srila Jiva Goswami's description of Vaikuntha and its innumerable glorious transcendental qualities. Chapter after chapter he gives crystal clear explicit explanations of all these points discussed above and many more intricate points, leaving no room for doubt as to the infallibility of the spiritual world (unfortunately, only for those who are aware of these points) -- thus the controversy goes on. Srila Prabhupada writes that, "one should be enchanted by this information [wondrous all inviting glory of Vaikuntha]."
As far as the efficacy of the Sat-sandarbhas are concerned, Krsnadasa Kaviraja Goswami writes
Srila Jiva Goswami compiled the book named Bhagavata-sandarbha, or Sat-sandarbha, which is the essence of all scriptures. From this book can can obtain a conclusive understanding of devotional service and the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Caitanya-caritamrta Antya-lila 4.229
Personally, we feel that this issue is basically not so important -- however it has become important by virtue of a fundamental lack of overall understanding of the siddhanta underlying this issue by a great many devotees. Srila Sridhara Maharaja hardly spoke on this subject but when he did, he was not hesitant to give the siddhanta -- especially when requested to clarify this misunderstanding. Similarly, all the Gaudiya Math acaryas that we have knowledge of [B. R. Sridhara Maharaja, Bhakti Promod Puri Maharaja, Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja, Vamana Maharaja, Bhakti Vallab Tirtha Maharaja, etc] have emphatically stuck to this same siddhanta that they heard either directly from Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura or from a disciple who heard it directly from him.
The logic of the GBC position eludes us. In the opening statement of the GBC position paper regarding this decision it is stated that the living entity does not fall from the spiritual world. However, they go on to say that as Srila Prabhupada preached sometimes one way, that the living entities never fall from Vaikuntha and sometimes that we can fall, that the policy in ISKCON will be that we will preach both things as Prabhupada did. The question is whether or not they understand what is the actual siddhanta and that for preaching we can preach something else. It appears that they do not seem to accept this logical point. When we are preaching to neophytes, non-devotees and the likes we should tailor our preaching such that we most easily capture their faith, as Srila Prabhupada did--yena tena prakarena. However, when elucidating the finer points of siddhanta to mature devotees or in discussions with scholars who in many instances are fully aware of the siddhanta we must preach the siddhanta. The mature sincere devotees will settle for nothing less and the scholars will simply think we are foolish and don't understand our own philosophy. We have already mentioned earlier the comment of a prominent acarya of the Madhva sampradaya. Another case in point is a recent revue of Bhaktivinode Thakura's book Prema-pradipa in the ISKCON World Review Vol 13, No. 6, March/April 1995. Herein a passage is quoted from this book apparently revealing that Bhaktivinode Thakura supports the Fall Theory, as though this is the siddhanta. The translater of this book, a well known proponent of the Fall Theory, has been shown to have previously given his own interpretation of certain passages during his breakneck translations of the Brhad-bhagavatamrta and other books in a manner so as to favor the Fall Theory. One example of this is his translation of Brhad-bhagavatamrta 2.6.76, "Having attained me, a friend more dear than life He had not seen for a long time, taking my hand in His left lotus hand, asking me wonderful questions . . . " Here the Sanskrit word "iva " translated in this author's word for word "as if" has been conveniently left out of the translation, thus completely changing the meaning from "as if He had not seen for a long time."
In Search For Sri Krsna, Srila Sridhara Maharaja explains:
How does the soul first appear in this world? From what stage of spiritual existence does he fall into the material world? This is a broad question, which requires some background information.
There are two classes of souls, jivas, who come into this world. One class comes from the spiritual Vaikuntha planets by the necessity of nitya-lila, the eternal pastimes of Krsna. Another comes by constitutional necessity.
The brahmajyoti, the nondifferentiated marginal plane, is the source of infinite jiva souls, atomic spiritual partices of nondifferentiated character. The rays of the Lord's transcendental body are known as the brahmajyoti, and a pencil of a ray of the brahmajyoti is the jiva. The jiva soul is an atom in that effulgence, and the brahmajyoti is a product of an infinite number of jiva atoms.
Generally, souls emanate from the brahmajyoti which is living and growing. Within the brahmajyoti, their equilibrium is somehow disturbed and movement begins. From nondifferentiation, differentiation begins. From a plain sheet of uniform consciousness, individual conscious units grow. And because the jiva is conscious it is endowed with free will. So, from the marginal position they choose either the side of exploitation or the side of dedication.
Srila Prabhupada writes the same thing:
The symptoms of the rainy
season may be compared to the symptoms of the living entities who are covered
by the three modes of material nature. The unlimited sky is like the Supreme
Brahman, and the tiny living entities are like the covered sky, or Brahman
covered by the three modes of material nature. Originally, everyone is part and
parcel of Brahman. The Supreme Brahman, or the unlimited sky, can never be
covered by a cloud, but a portion of it can be covered. As stated in the Bhagavad-gita,
the living entities are part and parcel of the Supreme Personality of
Godhead. But they are only an insignificant portion of the Supreme Lord. This
portion is covered by the modes of material nature, and therefore the living
entities are residing within this material world. The brahmajyoti --
spiritual effulgence -- is just like the sunshine; as the sunshine is full of
molecular shining particles, so the brahmajyoti is full of minute
portions of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Out of that unlimited expansion
of minute portions of the Supreme Lord, some are covered by the influence of
material nature, whereas others are free." [
. . . nor can one come
back from Vaikuntha after once taking birth there. All these incidents,
therefore, were designed by the Lord Himself for the sake of His pastimes in
the material world. Thus he plainly says that it was done with His approval.
Otherwise, it would have been impossible for inhabitants of Vaikuntha to come
back to this material world simply because of a brahminical curse. The Lord
especially blesses the so-called culprits: 'All glories unto you.' A devotee,
once accepted by the Lord, can never fall down. That is the conclusion of this
(Bhag. 3.16.29, purport)
The conclusion is that
the origin of all life is the bodily effulgence of the Supreme Personality of
(Bhag. 4.30.5, purport)
Thus the body is
considered material and the soul is considered spiritual. The origin of them
both, however, is the same Supreme Personality of Godhead. . . Everything is
born of the Supreme Brahman, from which everything emanates as different
(Bhag. 8.12.8, purport)
The all-pervading feature
of the Lord which exists in all circumstances of waking and sleeping as well as
in potential states and from which the jiva-sakti (living force) is
generated as both conditioned and liberated souls-is known as Brahman.
(Isopanisad, Text 16, purport)
In the sruti-mantra it is
stated that the absolute whole, or Brahman, is the ultimate source of
everything. Everything emanates from Him, ...
(Teachings of Lord Chaitanya, Chapt. 23, 17th paragraph)
We do have more to say. Please Bookmark for later our more complete presentation, on the Origin of the Jiva.
Number of Rounds
Most of the controversy surrounding the subject of how many rounds Srila Sridhara Maharaja recommended one to chant centers on a misrepresentation of Srila Sridhara Maharaja's teachings for various reasons. In the following section we present selections from his book Search for Sri Krsna, Reality The Beautiful, which give his actual instruction.
One should chant sixteen rounds, as recommended by Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja, but if there is any emergency, he must chant at least four rounds; the mala should not be kept fasting.
This harinama maha-mantra is found in the Upanisads, as well as in the Agni Purana and the Brahmanda Purana. In the Kalisantarana Upanisad, it is recommended as the highest mantra, and scholars have mentioned this mantra as a means of address only; no appeal should be attached to it. This Hare Krsna maha-mantra is the yuga dharma nama, or the process of God realization especially meant for the present age: Kali-yuga.
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura emphasized that kirtana means not only loudly singing the holy name, but preaching. There is a difference between the preaching mission of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura and the so-called bhajana of the sahajiyas, or imitationists.
Once, one of our
godbrothers (Niskincana Krsna Dasa Babaji Maharaja) was the subject of our
guru maharaja's stern remark. He was a man of good character, but his
tendency was generally towards nama bhajana. He did not like to do
any other service, but was only inclined to chant the name of Krsna on his
beads. I was in charge of the
If you can bring him there and make him help you in the work of preaching, then you will be doing the service of a real friend to him. I don't recognize that sitting in the jungle of Balihati only chanting, counting beads, is krsnanusilanam, the proper cultivation of Krsna consciousness.
So, kirtana means preaching, sravanam, kirtanam. Kirtana does not simply mean loudly chanting, but preaching. And preaching means there must be a fight with the opposition party. Kirtana means a fight. Kirtana creates the divine vibration which will fight with all the ordinary vibrations that are floating in this world in subtle and gross waves. So, our Guru Maharaja told us that our tulasi beads should not fast. His minimum advice was that we must do some service in the form of chanting Hare Krsna while counting on beads, at least once daily. His exact words were malika upabasa na: 'The beads should not fast.' And his general instruction was to preach as much as possible.
GBC Guru Not Chanting
Bhakti Caru Swami: If one deviates from the strict disciplic succession that means...
Dhira Krsna: His guru and the predecessor acaryas
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: Yes, deviation in the particular case can be overlooked to some degree. Some degree, he may again recoup. It may be possible. That this is deviation in whose sight? That will be the first thing, whether it is deviation or not? Any change in the policy, may not be deviation.
Dhira Krsna: Let me give you an example. One of the requirements to be an initiated disciple of Srila Prabhupada is to chant 16 rounds of maha-mantra daily.
Bhakti Caru Swami: (Bengali) Repeats Dhira Krsna's question that it's a deviation.
Dhira Krsna: Prabhupada said that this was the most important instruction of the spiritual master.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: (Bengali)
Bhakti Caru Swami: (Bengali translated)
Maharaja is telling that, say for instance, Caitanya Mahaprabhu, he said that one should chant at least 64 rounds. Right? But if somebody due to his other activities, engagements and other services cannot chant that many rounds, that can be tolerated. Like so it has to be understood.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: If busily engaged in other services, we should not hurry, we should not hurry.
Bhakti Caru Swami: But Maharaja, Prabhupada gave us 16 rounds as a minimum. Like he said that we must, everybody in this line
Srila Sridhara Maharaja insists on knowing whether it's the only deviation. Is there any further deviation than that? This deviation is not sufficient criteria to be considered a deviation. Mahaprabhu has advised all of us to chant at least 64 rounds. Even better than a lakh is three lakh names. But that is not possible because of overwhelming practical devotional service; it's not possible. So the question that I am asking, is why has he reduced the number of rounds? Is it because of negligence or apathy? Maybe he has turned his attention more towards other practical services. But the consideration of the other service is, with what depth of sincerity and intensity that service is being executed. That must be measured. We simply cannot judge by saying that he has deviated. All these things have to be taken into consideration. Mahaprabhu said that until and unless a devotee chants a minimum of 64 rounds I shall not accept any prasadam from his hands.
Bhakti Caru Swami: Srila Prabhupada being a devoted servant and servitor of Lord Caitanya is more merciful than Lord Caitanya Himself and so he recommends only 16 rounds.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: But at the same time, he said that it is better to chant one lakh names. Generally, it is seen that it is not possible for missionaries to complete that many rounds. At least four rounds minimum should be chanted so that we see that the mala does not get starved.
Bhakti Caru Swami: But if this is a case of negligence?
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: Negligence. If it is a clear example of negligence not due to other engagement of service then we may wait for some time to see the next future stage. We may be slothful for some time and again he may have redoubled energy to do the thing. It may be possible.
Srila Prabhupada's letter
to Paramananda on
But wherever you go,
either in New Vrindaban or
Srila Sridhara Maharaja continues,
Once I had a talk with
one of the big spiritual leaders of the Udipi temple in
So, the preaching mission of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, the Gaudiya Math, has declared totalitarian war against maya, illusion, and even all other existing conceptions of religion. What is really all-important is the spirit of service. We are not told that the gopis always count the name on tulasi beads, yet they possess the highest position in the service of Krsna in Vrndavana.
So, krsna nama will help us greatly to go towards Vrndavan. Its importance is there. Like an express train, the holy name of Krsna carries us to the goal without stopping at any other station. My guru maharaja's general recommendation for his initiated disciples was to chant twenty-five thousand names, sixteen rounds daily, or at least four rounds minimum. When someone had no work, he could chant one hundred thousand names, or sixty-four rounds.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja is enunciating the teachings of his Guru Maharaja Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura, so one should be careful not to simply criticize these instructions of our param guru.
Our Affectionate Guardians: Chapter Five ~ Mood
Is Srila Sridhara Maharaja's Mood different than Srila Prabhupada's?
A pertinent question to ask first is whether the GBC's mood is different than Srila Prabhupada's. Srila Prabhupada was always ready to show with reason, logic, and scriptural references how all his plans and decisions were solidly Krsna conscious. The mood of the leaders of ISKCON has been so much different than that of Srila Prabhupada that the vast majority of Prabhupada's disciples have left the formal ISKCON society, while not necessarily leaving Krsna consciousness. Undoubtedly many would have left anyway but it was greatly accelerated by what many considered to be less than proper activities of the GBC.
In the beginning, godbrothers of the "chosen eleven" generally cooperated in a loving nonenvious mood, but soon found many improprieties. Thoughtfully these godbrothers first made their reform attempts personally and privately so as to not disturb the disciples of their godbrothers (as recommended by Srila Sridhara Maharaja) but eventually were forced to go to the public mode of expression due to a complete lack of any positive response. Similarly we are forced from within by virtue of the ongoing intolerable offensive attitude towards Srila Sridhara Maharaja to try to change this.
Paramadwaiti Maharaja in his book Search For Purity states that he finds the activities of the GBC over the years to be exactly like that of a well known very large church organization, in that, internal management interests and power control are foremost above the considerations of the members. All attempts for reform by godbrothers were met with formidable opposition and usually with removal from one's service or at least discredit or ostricization by the local GBC authority--the first one being Pradyumna from his appointed (by Srila Prabhupada) ongoing translation of the Srimad Bhagavatam. Srila Prabhupada many times mentioned how he very much appreciated Pradyumna's dedication and competancy in his translation service and wished that he finish his unfinished translation of the Srimad-Bhagavatam:
Regarding the work of
Pradyumna, now he is working very hard to finish those missing portions, and he
will send you very soon. Actually, whatever else he may be doing, I very much
appreciate Pradyumna's work.
Ltr Prabhupada to Karandar ~
Further, Srila Prabhupada indicated that Pradyumna could consult Srila Sridhara Maharaja to check his translations. This last statement is also substantiated by the fact that the subsequent translator did in the beginning have the accuracy of his translations checked by Srila Sridhara Maharaja.
Pradyumna's 'envious crime' was a well-documented and thoughtful letter to Satsvarupa Maharaja (see below) expressing concern for the anomalies [such as acarya grandeur, oversized vyasasanas, zonal acarya restrictions and improper treatment of godbrothers] appearing in ISKCON's leadership, the same anomalies which greatly distressed a majority of ISKCON devotees over the years and which were many years later openly admitted to be anomalies and still later corrected to some extent. Further discussion of this letter is given later in this section.
The GBC stated officially:
In the spirit of the Srila Prabhupada Centennial the GBC formally extends apologies to any devotees who have been hurt by poor treatment or mistakes made by ISKCON leaders.
Somaka Maharaja, a formerly respected sannyasi preacher in ISKCON who recently left his post in a discouraged state, in his paper entitled, In Search of Harmony asks pertinent questions in light of this GBC statement above:
What is the plan to approach the devotees and actually beg pardon from them, admit our mistakes, give them a strong embrace and try to solve the differences? Is the GBC body going to approach Pradyumna Prabhu and apologize to him and give him back his service as translator as given to him specifically by Srila Prabhupada? Is the GBC going to recognize that in the letter that Pradyumna Prabhu wrote to Satsvarupa Maharaja in 1978 he pointed out all the defects that in 1987 [sic 1985 ?] due to so many fall downs they had to admit? Are the GBC men going to approach Paramadvaiti Maharaja to recognize that all the defects that he was presenting in his letter of 1984 were forcibly accepted in 1987? Vaisnavas do not get stature by beauracracy and diplomacy, Vaisnavas get stature based on humility, simplicity, meekness, detachment and so many other godly qualities."
Pradyumna's letter of 1978 (presented below), wherein he paraphrases numerous instructions from Srila Sridhara Maharaja received during a series of question and answer sessions in 1978, has finally been formally recognized by the GBC as entirely correct. In the 1999 GBC resolutions it was resolved:
The GBC Body extends its
heartfelt apologies to Sriman Pradyumna-dasa Adhikari for any offences caused
in its dealings with him in 1978-9. During this period Pradyumna Prabhu wrote
to the GBC via Satsvarupa-dasa Goswami warning them of serious repercussions
with the Zonal Acharya system in his letter dated
Sri Sri Guru Gauranga Jayatah
Dear Satsvarupa Maharaja,
Please accept my most humble obeisances. Maharaja, I am writing you this letter with great anxiety in my heart and after days and days and long nights of thought and careful consideration.
I have been staying in
Vrindavan now for some time and have not visited any other center recently
1) adopting the title of acharya,
2) sitting on high Vyasasanas in front of Srila Prabhupada's Vyasasanas and their own Godbrothers,
3) accepting worship and great respect normally reserved for a guru from the rest of their Godbrothers and
4) that the previous GBC zones have all been given by mutual agreement or by invitation among the different acharyas.
First of all, the word acharya may be taken in three senses. Etymologically the word acharya means "one who practices" or "one who practices what he preaches". This is the general meaning and may be used in relation to any pure devotee. Secondly, the word means "one who grants initiation to a disciple." This is specifically indicated one who is guru. Anyone who grants initiation or is a guru may be called as "acharyadeva", etc.-by his disciples only! Whoever has accepted him as a guru must give all respects to him in every way, but this does not apply to those who are not his disciples.
Thirdly, the word acharya indicates that "the spiritual head of an institution or pitha." This meaning is very specific. It does not mean just anyone. It means only one who has been specifically declared by the previous acharya to be his successor above all others to the seat of the spiritual institution which he heads. He alone, among all of his Godbrothers is given a raised seat and special honor. No other Godbrother may receive such respect and he is the authority in all spiritual and material matters. This is the strict tradition in all of the Gaudiya Sampradayas. Now Srila Prabhupada, it is clear, did not appoint any such successor because not one of his disciples at present is advanced to the level of Krishna Consciousness necessary to assume such, a position. Nor did Srila Prabhupada make eleven such acharyas. This was never mentioned by him. They were only given permission to make disciples and the GBC was to jointly manage, materially and spiritually. There was never any distinction made by Srila Prabhupada between material management and spiritual management. Both are the concern of the GBC. The eleven gurus may be only known as acharyas only in the second sense of the word to their disciples as mantra-giving gurus, not in the third sense, as "the spiritual successors of Srila Prabhupada." That was never meant to be by His Divine Grace.
Secondly, among Godbrothers it is not correct that any one of them sit above the others, especially in the presence of Gurudeva. If Gurudeva is not present, sometimes the sannyasi Godbrothers may be given an asana, but that asana does not mean a huge gigantic seat. It simply means a square piece of cloth or wool not more than 1/8" or 1/4" thick. This is asana. If one Godbrother or many Godbrothers sit above the others it is not at all proper.
Sometimes in an assembly there may be a raised platform or table on which the sannyasi speakers sit, but all sannyasi godbrothers must be invited to sit in an equal place on the speaker's platform. Sometimes a grihasta or brahmacari godbrother may also be invited to sit there if they are deserving by their advancement. If there is an appointed acharya as mentioned before (third sense of the word) than he alone may sit higher than the other godbrothers. Indeed in the different Gaudiya Mathas, even if one godbrother is in the position of acharya, he usually, out of humility, takes only a thin cloth asana, not anything higher. It is the symptom of a Vaisnava to be extremely humble. He must always be extremely careful of not putting himself in a position to become conceited. A guru may take a higher seat than his disciple-that is bonafide. But he cannot illegally take a higher seat than his godbrother. The relation between the guru and his godbrothers and a guru and his disciples is entirely different. He should not sit higher than godbrothers other than if he is a sannyasi, on a thin cloth as already mentioned if offered by his godbrothers, or accept respect from them without offering respect in return. This is the general niti or etiquette. Besides this there are, among godbrothers some further rules to be observed among those who are senior and those who are junior. Seniority is calculated according to the time of receiving first (Harinam) initiation or by his ability to perform bhajana.
If one godbrother has disciples, the guru-puja and Vyasa-puja of that godbrother should be conducted in a separate place or his private room-not in front of all his other godbrothers. In an assembly of Vaisnavas, all sit on the same level together, Godbrothers along with their sisyas. No one is permitted to accept separate respect from their disciples in any gathering of other godbrothers In Gaudiya Math, the Vyasa-puja of one godbrother who has disciples is usually performed in the following manner. The guru takes his raised seat in his private place and invites all his godbrothers to come to the function also. If his Godbrothers come to offer him some flowers, that guru godbrother immediately first worships his other godbrothers and offers them garland, candana, etc., and in some cases presents, like cloth, umbrella, etc. They honor each other and are seated properly, then that guru's disciples can come forward and offer their worship. This is the system being observed. Incidentally, the words of Om Visnupada Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura found in the English book Sri Chaitanya's Teachings regarding the sitting above everyone else are from a speech delivered in response to the offerings of his disciples on the occasion of his vyasa-puja. Those words are in relation to his disciples-not to his godbrothers, of which there weren't any. The niti in regard to godbrothers is completely different from that to disciples.
One who is actually guru
may make disciples anywhere he finds someone who is worthy. The connection
between guru and disciple is made by
Secondly, no GBC who is guru may make that zone of which he is temporarily in charge by appointment of joint GBC, into his own private place.
If some other guru visits there and some newcomer wishes to accept him as spiritual preceptor, how can he be prohibited?
Furthermore, all the temples of ISKCON are to be run by the GBC. No one GBC who is a guru may use the title acharya of such and such a zone. Srila Prabhupada never appointed one acharya of the whole ISKCON nor did he appoint several acharyas for parts of ISKCON. This will only lead to an ultimate division of the one ISKCON into many different fragments and destroy our united preaching work.
If someone sets up his personal seat as acharya in different temples, how can it be removed? Who else can sit in it? Then does that temple belong to that guru or does it belong to the GBC? That means the power or control is switched from joint GBC to the eleven gurus. Srila Prabhupada never intended this arrangement. Moreover in the future, in accordance with His Divine Grace's instructions, other qualified godbrothers may also become gurus. Where will they go? In Srila Prabhupada's temple no raised seat should be given to anyone but Srila Prabhupada-all Godbrothers should sit on the same level. One exception may be made in the case of one speaking from the sastras like Srimad-Bhagavatam, Bhagavad-Gita, Chaitanya Caritamrta, etc. during the class. But that seat is very special. It is not for the reader--it is meant for the book. After paying obeisances to that seat, he who is to read may, after taking permission from his senior Godbrothers and sannyasis, ascend to read from Bhagavatam. After finishing, he may again pay his obeisances. Much of the knowledge written here is not found in sastras, but is called sistacara--that which has been taught by the conduct of the past guru parampara. It has not been specifically mentioned in the sastras, but still it is accepted as authoritative because of being seen to be the conduct of previous acharyas and their disciples.
Maharaja, after much consideration and consultation and also confirmation by older members of our sampradaya I am writing to you to see if you can rectify the present situation. Many of us here, older godbrothers, are very concerned in two ways
1.That the eleven gurus not having been appointed to the position of acharya and for which they are unqualified both by a) the insufficient knowledge of sastra and b) the incomplete realization of Krishna Consciousness, are accepting worship on that level-and this may lead to anomalies in the society and personally, because of lack of complete detachment in atma-jnana, to a build up of pride and subsequent falldown, and
2. That the united society ISKCON, because of illegal division and control by a few members, instead of the joint GBC will become broken up in separate societies and the unified preaching effort very much hindered.
Hoping for your immediate attention and kind reply,
Pradyumna das Adhikari
P.S. These are not good signs for our society. Older godbrothers and sannyasis here are very concerned that if the present trend is not checked immediately, it will have passed beyond that point and ISKCON will be in chaos in the near future.
I hereby formally request that all these points be immediately brought to the attention of the GBC so that a very tactful solution for all concerned may be decided and amicably implemented in our society. Please note that there is nothing personal in this letter. It is some pertinent spiritual knowledge meant for the good of all. If anyone takes offense, I very humbly beg pardon at their feet. Hoping that this meets you in the best of health.
In the service of Srila Prabhupada
Pradyumna das Adhikari
This letter of Pradyumna Prabhu dealing with all the above mentioned points in a most astonishingly accurate manner was written after several consultations with Srila Sridhara Maharaja. Thus the 'lucidity and accuracy' of this letter are for the most part attributable to the deep realizations and experience of Srila Sridhara Maharaja. For those who wish to understand the principle of guru and the points raised in this letter we invite them to read Sri Guru and His Grace by Srila Sridhara Maharaja [A presentation of the essential teachings on guru-tattva].
Acarya Godbrother Relations
In March of 1978 Srila Sridhara Maharaja spoke of acarya relations with godbrothers:
If you think that the person who is doing the function of acarya, in the tatastha vicar-absolute consideration, that his adhikara is lower than yours, still you should formally give special honor to him because he is in that position. For example, the son may be a judge and the father the lawyer, so the father is giving honor to the chair of the judge-nirod. Like that you should do, otherwise the social fashion will be disturbed, is it not? That adjustment should be kept in the mission. And when you are alone, the acarya brother and the non-acarya brother when alone, you can mix freely. You can give a slap to his cheek. [the acarya's cheek] But when publicly amongst his disciples, you must show respect.
According to my consideration, as I hear it, the grandeur of the acarya, the puja of the present acaryas, it is undesirable and too much and that will create some difficulty. It should be modified. The way in which the acarya puja has been established, that should be modified to suit the circumstances and some adjustment with the godbrothers should be made. A protocol, a spiritual protocol should be evolved which may not be very harmful to the body, to the association, the ISKCON organization. It is a very difficult thing tackling the fine point of divine sentiment. So, very carefully the adjustment in the spiritual protocol should be observed. Not only adjustment with the sentiment of the godbrothers of the acaryas, but also the disciples of the acaryas amongst themselves, this difficulty will continue. So, a very sober and well thought conception should be evolved by the help of the scriptures and the statements of the Vaisnavas and their experience-all these things must be considered. Adjustment may help the mission to grow-adjustment such that it may not be detrimental to the missionary activity. It is a very difficult thing to adjust. Then there is acarya puja-afterwards they should also show some respect to all others, the godbrothers of the gurudeva. In this way the respect will be shown-the guru with his parsada-with his friends (paricaraka sahitam). . . . But puja in a gorgeous way whenever an acarya will come, that gorgeous puja that will create havoc and disembarkment in the mission, so much grandeur. And now another thing in the opposite. Mat guru si jagat guru-a newcomer, he should be given such understanding that my guru is not less in capacity of divinity [than Srila Prabhupada].The newcomers should be given the highest attraction-to draw their maximum faith. Acaryam mam vijaniyam-sastra has got no mean mantra for a small guru and a big mantra for a big guru. Guru should be looked at by the disciple with maximum reverence. And to draw the maximum reverence or sraddha, faith, from the disciple, it is not a very easy thing. So, two things should be considered and an intermediate process should be evolved.
Another less known case was that of a GBC overseeing the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. Sincerely concerned that the worship being received by himself and the other ten "appointed acaryas" was excessive, he wrote a long paper on this subject and removed his vyasasana from the temple room, preparing for a more reasonable and less excessive worship by his disciples. This was met publicly by another long paper countering his. One of the principle arguments in this second paper was that you can prove anything, right or wrong, by sastra. Then the authors (three GBC acaryas) attempted to show that the acceptence of a humbler position was improper.
Privately, this GBC guru was told that if he did not drop the whole thing and tow the party line (continued excessive worship) he would lose his life blood, the controlling guardianship of the BBT (Srila Prabhupada's book publishing arm)-he would be fired from his beloved service by the GBC. Left with little choice, he curbed his reform. This also entailed opposing Srila Sridhara Maharaja, whom he had previously approached in good faith with heartfelt questions and had been satisfied (March 1981).
This GBC guru's situation
was explained to Srila Sridhara Maharaja on
Under My Order
In the following section we present relevant extracts from Ravindra Svarupa's 1985 paper, "Under My Order," Reflections on the Guru in ISKCON. Ravindra's paper confirms that the same feelings conveyed above by [ name of GBC guru ] were felt by the entire North American Temple Presidents and resident sannyasis present:
At the June, 1985 North American temple presidents meeting in Towaco, N.J., subsequent to hearing and discussing a paper presented by Trivikrama Maharaja, it was determined that Srila Prabhupada's order establishing how the parampara should continue in ISKCON after his departure was not clearly understood and hence not properly followed-and was in fact contrary to his desire and incompatible with his plans for ISKCON. The assembly agreed that this deviation from Srila Prabhupada's order lies at the crux of ISKCON's most grave and intractable problems.
The assembly asked [Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu] to undertake a closer investigation of the "apppointment issue" with the aim of 1) precisely ascertaining the actual order of Srila Prabhupada, 2) clearly understanding the nature of our deviation from that order, and 3) examining the consequences of that deviation for ISKCON.
Ravindra Svarupa then presents the following evidence:
In his discussion at
They [the GBC] immediately [thought] these eleven people are the selected gurus. I can say definately for myself . . . that there was some degree of trying to control. There's a degree of this in most GBC's part, in most temple president's part. This is the conditioned nature and it came out in the highest position of all. "Guru, oh wonderful. Now I'm guru and there's only eleven of us. This is what lead us into this pitfall.
Because the appointment of ritvik was taken as equivalent to the appointment of guru, the geographical considerations relevant to the institutionalization of ritviks became carried over to the establishment of diksa-gurus, and thus the exclusive guru zones came into being, and the initiating gurus took possession of their territories as their exclusive and private domains over which they held all spiritual and material authority.
Prabhupada gave eleven men permission to make disciples. His order was misunderstood. Thus, in the Introduction of a 1979 Vyasa-puja book for one of the original eleven acaryas we read, "Desiring to prepare his disciples for his departure, Srila Prabhupada very wisely selected eleven of his most intimate disciples to become both his material and spiritual successors."
Thus, the appointment of ritviks is interpreted as the appointment, not merely of diksa-gurus, but of successors, and not merely of successors, but material and spiritual successors, which is to say, acaryas. Consequently, ISKCON itself now passed into the hands of eleven appointed "successor acaryas."
The formation of exclusive and private zones over which the "zonal acarya" exercises total material and spiritual authority is one symptom of the illicit creation of "successor acaryas." A second symptom is the way special asanas have been established for the initiating gurus.
In this way, through our misunderstanding of Srila Prabhupada, the initiating gurus assumed a position which was not granted to them, or to anyone, by Srila Prabhupada, and which came into direct conflict with his instructions for ISKCON. The initiating gurus illegitimately became acaryas-in the very specific meaning of the word acarya: the spiritual head of an institution; one who is elevated above all others to the seat of the institution he heads.
I have taken this
definition of acarya from the letter of
We mention again that the substance of Pradyumna's letter was based on Srila Sridhara Maharaja's substantial answers to Pradhumna's many questions regarding proper standards regarding the gurudisciplegodbrother-relationships.
Ravindra Svarupa's paper, "Under My Order," with attached letter of Pradyumna Prabhu, was endorsed by all North American temple presidents and sannyasis present as representing an accurate accounting and critical analysis of events within ISKCON.
Further emphasizing the seriousness of the deviation of ISKCON's leaders, Ravindra Svarupa writes,
"If we do not change, some future acarya, emerged out of the shambles of a dismantled ISKCON, will pass the same kind of judgement on us that Srila Prabhupada passed on his deviant Godbrothers. If we do not change, this future acarya will be able to write:"
"Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, at the time of his departure, requested all his disciples to conduct missionary activities cooperatively under the authority of a governing body. He did not instruct any particular men to become the next acaryas. But just after his passing away, his leading secretaries made plans, without authority, to occupy the post of acarya. The single, international society established by Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada gradually split up into many small, local movements, each headed by a single self-made acarya. Consequently, all these factions were asara, or useless, because they had no authority, having disobeyed the order of the spiritual master."
Ravindra's statement above, 'If we do not change . . . then . . . asara,' seems to imply that already ISKCON is in a questionable area in this regard.
Formerly, the political doctrines of Machiavelli were very much in vogue with several of our GBC leaders. According to the New Encyclopaedia Brittanica, Machiavelli advocated that,
Even religion-for which he had a deep feeling though he was not outwardly pious—was subordinated by him to the state's iron necessity and made into a tool of power.
In his principal work, The Prince, Machiavelli writes:
It is unnecessary for a prince to have all the good qualities I have enumerated, but it is very necessary to appear to have them — to appear merciful, faithful, humane, religious, upright, and to be so, but with a mind so framed that should you require not to be so, you may be able and know how to change to the opposite. One is often forced, in order to maintain the state, to act contrary to faith, friendship, humanity, and religion. Every one sees what you appear to be, few really know what you are, and those few dare not oppose themselves to the opinion of the many, who have the majesty of the state to defend them; and in the actions of all men, and especially of princes, which it is not prudent to challenge, one judges by the result.
In his private dealings with his subjects let him show that his judgements are irrevocable, and maintain himself in such reputation that no one can hope either to deceive him or to get round him.
This is a far cry from trnad api sunicena and the mood of Srila Prabhupada. Needless to say, two of Machiavelli's most ardent fans are no longer with us. At least one GBC guru even went so far as to rent videos of Hitler to learn how to manipulate the masses [of devotees].
Srila Prabhupada repeatedly asked his fellow countrymen to please accept his Western disciples as bonafide devotees, but after Srila Prabhupada left us, suddenly we are the only Vaisnavas— anyone outside ISKCON is asara, useless. This is very offensive to so many bonafide devotees who are sincerely serving Krsna (and for many Srila Prabhupada) according to divine arrangement.
For many years, our godbrothers have found their dealings with the leaders of ISKCON frustrating (to say the least) and unproductive. We are not alone in our societal problems however. Studies of the group dynamic by the social psychologist Irving Janis (Yale & Berkeley Universities) showed a phenomenon called 'groupthink.' In groupthink, decision makers tacitly conspire to ignore crucial information because it somehow challenges a collective view with which everyone is comfortable. Loyalty to the group requires that members not raise embarrassing questions, attack weak arguments, or counter softheaded thinking with hard facts. Janis sums it up: 'The more amiability and espirit de corps among the members of a policy-making in-group, the greater the danger that independent critical thinking will be replaced by groupthink. The most likely result is a faulty decision.'
Groupthink, according to other organizational experts is a danger inherent in the structure of a corporation [albeit material or spiritual], where the success or failure of an employee [aspiring devotee] depends to a large extent on his immediate superior's evaluation. Thus the junior is more than happy to support the senior one's opinions, even when he sees they are wrong. Independent experimenters tested the 'boss' in various groups to see how much he was motivated by the need for power. People high in this motive do things for the sake of making an impact on others, rather than to meet an inner standard of excellence.
In actual discussions, those leaders high in the need for power sought fewer facts from other group members and were offered fewer proposals. Once the leader had expressed his views, members fell in line, deferring to him. They seemed to be democratic in the way they ran things-but actually they subtly reinforced compliance with their own opinions.
The more often the symptoms of groupthink crop up, the worse the resulting illusions, and the poorer the decisions that that group will make. The healthy alternative is a group that balances unity with an openness to all relevent information-even at the risk of a fracas from time to time. [Science of Business, October 1985 pp. 18-20]
Surprisingly, these studies sound all too familiar, unfortunately applicable. Again this does not at all reflect the mood of Srila Prabhupada. Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu gives a still applicable description of ISKCON in his paper, Ending the Fratricidal War (written in the mid 1980s):
"The root of all problems now facing ISKCON is that we, the disciples of Srila Prabhupada, have not established proper Vaisnava relationships among ourselves. While Srila Prabhupada was here with us, we did not enjoy such relationships, and our spiritual master plainly told us that our greatest fault was our tendency to quarrel with each other.
"A society of devotees in which proper Vaisnava relations are not yet the norm is called a kanistha-adhikari society. It's distinguishing characteristic is contentiousness arising from envy. Envy is a product of false ego. Because of false ego, the members are unable to establish spiritual friendship among themselves. Instead, they vie with each other for prestige, power, and perquisites (special favors). Intensely desiring the honor and respect of others, the contentious neophyte pretends to be more advanced than he actually is. He tries to conceal his shortcomings and falldowns, and in so doing he develops a secretive mentality and holds himself back from entering into open and honest relations with his godbrothers. Because he cannot reveal his mind in confidence, he remains aloof from real fellowship. He strays from the path of devotional service and cuts himself off from hearing and becomes impervious to instruction and good advice. Because he has many secret misgivings about himself, he becomes eager to find the faults of others.
"Spiritual immaturity often leads a kanistha-adhikari to identify spiritual advancement with organizational advancement. He thinks that attaining prestige, power, and the perquisites of office is evidence of spiritual advancement In this way competition becomes institutionalized in kanistha-adhikari societies.
"The tragedy of ISKCON at the present time is that while the society contains many advanced devotees of the stature of madhyama and even uttama-adhikaris, the society as a whole is still operating on the kanistha platform. Although they know and intend better, the leaders of ISKCON repeatedly find themselves, to their dismay, involved in highly immature patterns of relationships with others. This anomolous situation can only be attributed to an inheritance from the past."
Ravindra Prabhu then mentions that the only means to rise to the madhyama platform is through a determined vow of strong sadhana, thereby gradually destroying the false ego. Further, he states that due to the long-standing political power-game, reform may be treated as an opposing element to be defeated. However, "any devotee who wants to institute reform must begin with himself. The prerequisite for coming to the madhyama stage is to be a strict follower of the regulative principles and concentrate on offense-avoiding japa. A reformer should recognize sense gratification and false ego as the two great impediments to Vaisnava fellowship."
Here, Ravindra Prabhu indicates that there are indeed many deep problems, even at the highest level, like the top "spiritual" leaders not following the basic principles of Krsna consciousness-the same things which were repeatedly emphasized strongly by Srila Prabhupada. Other major problems revealed by Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu are the leaders entanglement in the "political power game," forcing their control on all ISKCON devotees and intolerance of all reform attempts-completely crushing time and time again the enthusiasm of so many sincere godbrothers. Certainly, the first prerequisite for advancing beyond this point is to admit that we do indeed have these problems and subsequently take the necessary steps to correct them. Then we can get on to the real business-Krsna consciousness. Will these types of activities help one become Krsna conscious?
The Weeds of Diplomacy & Duplicity
"Unnecessary and unacceptable creepers growing along with ones bhakti-lata creeper of devotion are kutinati-diplomatic behavior, jiva-himsana-animal killing, labha-mundane profiteering, puja-mundane adoration and pratishta-adi-mundane importance. All these are unwanted creepers." (Chaitanya-caritamrta, Madya-lila 19.159) In the purport of this verse Srila Prabhupada writes, "Kutinati, or diplomat behavior, cannot satisfy the atma, the soul. It cannot even satisfy the body or the mind. The culprit mind is always suspicious; therefore our dealing should always be straightforward and approved by Vedic authorities. If we treat people diplomatically or duplicitously, our spiritual advancement is obstructed." Krsnadasa Kaviraja Goswami writes further, "If one does not distinguish between the bhakti-lata creeper and the other creepers, the sprinkling of water [in the forms of hearing and chanting and serving etc] is misused because the other creepers are nourished while the bhakti-lata creeper is curtailed." (Chaitanya-caritamrta, Madya-lila 19.160) Further, untruthfulness enters in when one is not straightforward in his dealings with other devotees and is condemned in the Srimad-Bhagavatam with the admonition that, "There is nothing more sinful than untruthfulness. Because of this, mother earth once said, 'I can bear any heavy thing except a person who is a liar.'" (Srimad-bhagvatam 8.20.4) "As for actual advancement in spiritual science, one should have a test to see how far he is progressing. He can judge by these items: Humility; pridelessness; nonviolence; tolerance; simplicity; etc; etc . . . Simplicity means that without diplomacy one should be so straightforward that he can disclose the real truth even to an enemy." (Bg. 13.8-12, purp.) "The mind should be devoid of duplicity, and one should think of the welfare of all . . . One should be straightforward in his dealings and thereby purify his existence." (Bg. 17.16, purp)
In Los Angeles Srila Prabhupada spoke,
In the path of Krsna consciousness the first principle is enthusiasm. If you lack enthusiasm then other things will not happen. And you can keep enthusiasm if you follow the rules and regulations and chant regularly Hare Krsna mantra. Otherwise that enthusiasm also will dry. So six things are required for advancing Krsna consciousness. The first thing is enthusiasm. Utsahan dhairyat. And patient. And niscayad, with conviction, firm conviction. Utsahan dhairyat niscayad tat tat karma pravartanat. Following the rules and regulation, chalked out plans. And sato vrtteh, dealing very straightforward. No diplomacy, no politics, no duplicity. That will not help. Sato vrtteh. Vrtteh, his profession should be very straightforward. No underhand dealings. Sato vrtteh and sadhu sanga, and in the association of devotees. Six things. Enthusiasm, patience, firm conviction, following the rules and regulations, dealing straightforward, no duplicity, and in association of devotees. If you can keep these six principles always in front then your progress in Krsna consciousness is sure. There is no doubt about it. So as far as possible I've tried to train you and you are doing nice. I'm satisfied. So keep the standard and go on. March forward and Krsna will bless you. Thank you very much. Hare Krsna. (700802NP.LA)
Living GBC Committee Wanted
In the Prabhupadanuga Newsletter, Vol 1, No. 1, Sivarama Swami suggests that the GBC members should be more in touch with the rest of ISKCON, then "the GBC could actually be leaders or sources of inspiration. Instead, they get there once a year, and try to be just simply administrators, and try to solve problems through administration."
Srila Sridhara Maharaja's advice was similar,
Not just a formal meeting for two days, three days. But it must be a meeting to satisfy the real necessity of the day. That is a living committee that we want. Living committee we want. Not a formal meeting. After one year, a formal meeting and some resolutions passed and everyone has gone to his own field and is doing as he likes. Hare Krsna. Gaura Hari Bol.
Somaka Maharaja has
quoted in his paper entitled, In Search of Harmony,
a statement of Tamal Krsna Maharaja made during a class given in
We are a movement of brahmanas, but actually the mode of dealing with one another appears to be more the mode of a ksatriya. Brahmanas are very softhearted and feel very much for the misery of others, but all the time we hear that softness is sentimentalism, and just looking to many of our bylaws it just reflects the ksatriya mode. I very strongly feel that we should do less legislation and develope more deep personal relations and deepen our love for each other-but to be able to get to that platform we should give up the ambition for name and position.
I Told Them Right at the Beginning
Srila Sridhara Maharaja advised in March of 1981:
I say that the ideal is all-important, and next, unity. Administration is the position of the ksatriya, and the acarya's work, that is for the brahmana who does not care for this worldly achievement. That is for the brahmanas, and administration is with the ksatriya, finance with the vaisya. This should be the general conception. So, those with brahmanic temperament, they should be concerned about sastric knowledge; that is their laksana [symptom]: sabde pare ca nisnatam [ The qualification of a spiritual master is that he must have realized the conclusion of the scriptures by deliberation and arguments. (Bhag. 11.3.21) ]
Life cannot be ruled by only law. Vitality must also be accomodated. Law and vitality. Law is there, but merit or vitality cannot be checked. Merit must have proper field. But law should not check the proper person and only encourage the improper one. Both sides must be there; regulative law is also necessary but must be subservient to the natural growth. Suppose a boy requests more food, he will grow and be more strong. If you give enough food, then this is justice-according to his capacity he should be given food, he will get more strength and do more work. So this sort of provision must be in the law, is it not? This will make the movement quite living. That is my opinion. So it must be a living Governing Body, not a mechanical Governing Body. Fair field. As much as possible, our aim should be towards that. Seva is necessary, but who will be the general? Only seniority? That may be reckoned, but always seniority man not do the work. Even a younger man may be promoted to general. Just as Rommel was given the position and he showed his capacity. So, the body should be formed in such a way that a fair field is created, and the qualified persons may have a better chance, otherwise they will be jealous of one another and the work will be lost. The merit must be given freedom and help. I think it should be like that. A fair field. So, they are to take decision on that point in this meeting, a very important meeting.
Satsvarupa Das Goswami: They will, Ramesvara Maharaja, has proposed on this question of the extension of the acaryaship that the GBC come to take your advice.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: I told them right at the beginning [March 1978] when they came to discuss with me about this after Swami Maharaja departed. Then I suggested that this should be made into a dynamic practice so that every year during Gaura Purnima some new gurus can be included. Then the other party, the non-initiating godbrothers will have their confidence on the initiating godbrothers and give their support to them. Otherwise if they maintain some rigid practice then the relationship will be cracked. This was my suggestion but they did not care about that. On the other hand, emphatically they said that "No, only these eleven that Srila Prabhupada has selected will remain. Outside these eleven they will not include anybody else. I pointed out that if you include some more initiating gurus that will be more favorable. As it is now, when you are all going to leave [pass away], then you will have to appoint your disciples as initiating gurus. You have to empower your disciples so why can't you do that to your brothers? Can there be a more qualified person? So, better you keep it open. This practice will be very dynamic. If needed, you eliminate some people also from their position of guru and include also somebody when he is qualified.
We Must Not Go Outside the Eleven
But anyhow, they went away, did not oppose me here, but after going away from me, I heard they expressed that no, these eleven, we must not go outside the eleven. That was their decision and so they go on and are rather avoiding me. That was the cause of their avoidance, and indifference towards me. I think like so. Sometimes they come with particular cases, but not for general advice. They do not want to listen to the uncle gurus."
Bhakti Caru Swami: Chaitanya Mahaprabhu told Vallabha Acarya that the one who does not recognize the superiority of the spiritual master is like a prostitute. At least there was some scriptural understanding. But here there is no scriptural understanding. . . . Maharaja, the main consideration is that many of Prabhupada's disciples are leaving the movement. They are quite unable to tolerate all this nonsense any more.
Sridhara Maharaja: The primary consideration is Krsna's will.
But, they didn't come and for many years against all advice and godbrother complaints, the GBC voted to not extend the number of gurus-a decision which was to discourage so many devotees and further shake their faith in the GBC's management. Additionally, when Sridhara Maharaja expressed his dissatisfaction with their " injudicial and potentially disastrous" decision, the GBC, rather than consider that perhaps their actions might be unfair to the godbrothers, stated that Srila Sridhara Maharaja was trying to destroy ISKCON.
Truth Seekers are Fearless
Surely many of our readers have their own viewpoints to add. Those wishing to contribute to the ongoing Modern History of Vaisnavism are encouraged to communicate with us. We are open to thoughtful considerations. We feel that our intentions are well meant, we would like to see reform--substantial reform, but judging from the mood during recent encounters with the GBC we more or less consider that unlikely. So, we hope to inspire devotees to progress enthusiastically in the evolution of their Krsna consciousness by providing inspiration in the form of this presentation and ongoing enlightening discussion. We are looking for the Supreme Absolute Truth, satyam param dhimahi, so what objection can there be to enlightenment, unless we are hiding something? Are we engaged in a real process? Do we really believe in Krsna? If so, then we must act like it. If we are actual seekers after truth we will be fearless. To quote Srila Sridhara Maharaja,
What we have received from our spiritual master we understood only in a rough estimation. Now, things have come in such a way that we have to scrutinize ourselves in every position. We have to analyze ourselves. Atma-niksepa, self-analysis has begun. We are under trial. The fire has come to test whether we can stand. Is our acceptance real? Or is it a sham, an imitation? This fire will prove that. Posterity will judge and history will stand witness.
And it is.
Srila Prabhupada asked us
to show our love for him by cooperating with one another, but one should
realize that he meant to cooperate with those who are cooperating with him
[with his actual mood towards all aspects of devotional service], who are
following strictly, are exhibiting proper Vaisnava qualities, and whose
activities are in accordance with sastra as Srila Prabhupada always was. Srila
Prabhupada said, "our movement is based on love and trust, so if we do not
cooperate, then how is that love and trust?" [Ltr Krsnavesa dasi,
Srila Prabhupada himself
personally fired the entire GBC on at least two occasions and always reviewed
and rejected decisions by the GBC which were not Krsna conscious. A memo was
sent to all ISKCON temples on
. . . I also understand that immediate actions are going to take place even prior to my permission, and that also, 'without divulging to the devotees!' . . . Under these circumstances, I AUTHORIZE YOU TO DISREGARD FOR THE TIME BEING ANY DECISION FROM THE GBC MEN UNTIL MY FURTHER INSTRUCTION. . . . Finally, I beg to repeat that ALL GBC ORDERS ARE SUSPENDED HEREWITH BY ME UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. Your ever well-wisher, A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami.
Three days later, Prabhupada wrote to Hansadutta,
. . . there was to be immediate action without divulging the matter to the devotees. And I am surprised that none of the GBC members detected the defects in the procedure. It was detected only when it came to me. What will happen when I am not here, shall everything be spoiled by GBC? So for the time being, let the GBC activities be suspended until I thoroughly revise the whole procedure. . . So our view is that we shall be strictly following the rules and regulations. Monetary matters are secondary.
And what is the recourse for us? We have seen repeatedly that we have very little. By preaching and bringing the conditioned souls to devotional service we please Caitanya Mahaprabhu and thereby we also get some benefit and advance in Krsna consciouness. Conversely, we must consider the consequences of causing servants to go away from the Lord. Certainly, He must be very displeased. And this will surely bring much distress on the heads of those who are responsible.
An objection will undoubtedly be raised by the powers that be, that this book will disturb the minds of many devotees. Our answer is that these leaders have been greatly disturbing the minds of many sincere devotees for about thirty years to the extent that a majority of thoughtful minded devotees have had no choice but to leave this sphere of power to try and pursue Krsna consciousness without the politics and other un-Krsna conscious influences. And the bottom line is that the leaders are directly responsible for this exodus and must answer above (to Krsna). So many devotees have been cheated from a full healthy conception of Krsna consciousness.
This book is addressed mainly to the mass of devotees outside ISKCON as well as inside--mainly to those previously in ISKCON, who are already troubled, to those who are looking for some answers, some stability in all of this, those who are just hanging on, out there somewhere. We are seeking in the words of Srila Sridhara Maharaja, to do some "relief work." To the discouraged we say, don't "throw out the baby with the bathwater," there are viable alternatives. We are not fooled by the thousands running in the front door of ISKCON, we are lamenting the thousands, who for many years have been running out the back door of ISKCON with a bad taste, unable to find proper shelter. Nor are we attracted by the heavy faultfinders, whose "food and drink is vaisnava-aparadha," although we must admit that their unfortunate situation is caused by these same wrongdoings. The situation is so discouraging that many sincere devotees in their desperation have turned to a more drastic and offensive mode of life. While we can understand their frustration we do not think, that if one's motives are sincere and pure, that they will follow such a path. Rather, we propose a more moderate, thoughtful path-"the power of positive thinking," yet not one of tolerating wrongdoing.
Boil the Milk
Srila Prabhupada told us
many times to "boil the milk," that is that we must concentrate on
all becoming better devotees. His concern was that the process not become
watered down but we all become strongly situated in Krsna consciousness. In a
letter to Hansadutta (
On a deep and substantial Krsna conscious level, Srila Sridhara Maharaja and Srila Prabhupada's mood is very similar-perhaps not so easily discernible to many of Srila Prabhupada's disciples. Our contention is that Srila Sridhara Maharaja's sastrically perfect advice is an invaluable asset in our continuous and progressive evolution of Krsna consciousness. Considering the change in mood and behavior of the ISKCON leaders following the departure of Srila Prabhupada, any differences between Srila Prabhupada and Srila Sridhara Maharaja are paled in comparison.
Our Affectionate Guardians: Chapter Five
But Srila Sridhara Maharaja Was Outside of ISKCON
While it is true that certain institutional considerations must be maintained, we cannot forget that it was Srila Prabhupada himself who opened the door for his disciples to hear from Srila Sridhara Maharaja. And how can we forget that Srila Prabhupada sent Acyutananda Maharaja and others to Srila Sridhara Maharaja to receive siksa from him, "Then I will feel that you are safe." This has been previously documented in chapter one. The principle of siksa guru, essential in our evolving Krsna consciousness — is discussed in detail in Sri Guru & His Grace by Srila Sridhara Maharaja. There are many GBCs, gurus, sannyasis, prabhus, etc. within formal ISKCON who privately take siksa at many levels outside of ISKCON (even today after the 1995 GBC prohibition), although they are not advertising it. The question then arises, "What comprises ISKCON and what is outside of ISKCON?" Some, such as ourselves, who are not allowed within formal ISKCON due to managerial policies, think of ISKCON in a much broader way than the institutional walls. We tend to think of ISKCON conceptually as an ideal dedicated to spreading Krsna consciousness under the inspiration and direction of Srila Prabhupada. In this way we include ourselves within the real ISKCON — the spiritual ISKCON and understand that we have substantially continued our service to Srila Prabhupada. Numerous quotes from Srila Prabhupada indicate that this position has its validity, although working within the institution, when it is possible, is obviously more pleasing to His Divine Grace. Previously, one of the quotes below was misrepresented by the GBC in an attempt to falsely try to prove that those outside ISKCON were un-bona fide, asara.
"Disunity between individual souls is so strong within this material world that even in a society of Krsna consciousness, members sometimes appear disunited due to their having different opinions and leaning toward material things. Actually, in Krsna consciousness there cannot be two opinions. There is only one goal: to serve Krsna to one's best ability. If there is some disagreement over service, such disagreement is to be taken as spiritual." [Bhag. 4.30.8, purp.]
"If the same principles can be adopted here, wholly or partially, then it is also Vaikuntha. So it is with any society, such as the International Society for Krsna Consciousness. If the members of the International Society for Krsna Consciousness, putting faith in Krsna as the center, live in harmony according to the order and principles of Bhagavad-gita, then they are living in Vaikuntha, not in this material world." [Bhag. 3.15.33, purp.]
was present (at
"In Bhagavad-gita Lord Krsna refers to bhagavata-dharma as the most confidential religious principle . . . There are four lines of disciplic succession: one from Lord Brahma, one from Lord Siva, one from Laksmi, the goddess of fortune, and one from the Kumaras. One must take shelter of one of these four sampradayas in order to understand the most confidential religious system. In the Padma Purana it is said, sampradaya-vihina ye mantras te misphala matah: if one does not follow the four recognized disciplic successions, his mantra or initiation is useless." [Bhag. 6.3.20-21, purp.]
"There are many societies and associations of pure devotees, and if someone with just a little faith begins to associate with such societies, his advancement to pure devotional service is rapid." [NOD Ch 19, p. 146]
"Anyone who is trying to be aloof from this Krsna Consciousness Society and yet engage in Krsna consciousness is living in a great hallucination, for this is not possible. From this statement by Dhruva Maharaja it is clear that unless one is associated with devotees, his devotional service does not mature." [Bhag 4.9.11 purp.]
As Srila Prabhupada is speaking from within his society you would expect him to refer to his society of Krsna consciousness. Sastra refers to the association of devotees and in the purport to the Srimad Bhagavatam 3.15.33 (above), Srila Prabhupada states that it is Vaikuntha for those living in harmony, with Krsna in the center, for any society such as ISKCON. He then states in the same purport that if the members of ISKCON live in this way, they are living in Vaikuntha. Clearly, Srila Prabhupada is sometimes making a distinction between ISKCON and other societies as we would expect him to [to encourage his disciple's dedication to ISKCON, as the founder-acarya of ISKCON], and sometimes not. If we then try to use the statement of Srila Prabhupada in the purport of Srimad Bhagavatam 4.9.11 (quoted above), that one aloof from this Krsna Consciousness Society is living in hallucination, to prove that devotees in any Gaudiya Vaishnava Society outside of ISKCON are not bona fide, it is not consistent with Srila Prabhupada's many other statements. It is contradictary and does not represent the Gaudiya siddhanta nor Srila Prabhupada's intentions.
Better to Bloop
Some criticized those who left ISKCON while others boldly advised that it is better to bloop than take siksa from Srila Sridhara Maharaja. Even more audacious--the GBC priviledge committee suggested to Paramadvaiti Maharaja in 1984 that he would be better to commit suicide than leave ISKCON if no changes were made. Another prominent devotee quipped that it is better to become a meat-eating karmi than hear from Srila Sridhara Maharaja. The GBC guru who often said this later married a non-devotee due to these offenses. Even much worse things were advised and propagated by highly posted devotees, including the taped instruction distributed to all disciples by one GBC Guru that to murder a particular sannyasi follower [in good spiritual standing] of Srila Sridhara Maharaja would incur no karma, and therefore was advisable. And a gundha (gangster) was paid and sent to inflict great bodily harm on Srila Sridhara Maharaja, but recognizing Sridhara Maharaja's exalted saintly qualities he revealed the plot. And it is not as if the godbrothers didn't try for reform; the fact is well known, as to the harsh reactions to any inclination for reform within ISKCON for many many years. In addition to those mentioned in the beginning of this book, the saga of Paramadvaiti Maharaja's endless attempts for reform-cooperation-frustration-are documented in his booklet entitled, The Search for Purity, which surprised a great many devotees with its revelations.
We Thank Our Stars
According to ISKCON's previous policy: "They left Srila Prabhupada and are thus asara," many who left should have dried up long ago-for one who actually leaves his guru in spirit-his future is not bright. On the contrary we see that some devotees have greatly matured in their Krsna consciousness outside of ISKCON and are looked up to as stalwart pillars. In the words of Srila Sridhara Maharaja,
"we thank our stars that we have had a glimpse of Krsna consciousness proper,"
if even from afar-nevertheless we have had a glimpse, and our hearts have been charmed and captured. If we are actually Krsna conscious, thoughtful, mature and unmotivated, then in our honesty we must submit to the Truth, from wherever and however it springs. Our quest is a great search for the Supreme Absolute Truth and our Lord will not neglect us if we are sincere.
It is noteworthy to mention here that some did not leave ISKCON because they did not want to be in ISKCON, nor did they consciously make the decision, "I do not want to be in ISKCON." They simply could not neglect their siksa guru, Srila Sridhara Maharaja, therefore they "are severed from ISKCON." We humbly submit that this policy is not in keeping with Srila Prabhupada's kind and accommodating nature, nor can we expect ISKCON to mature toward a "house in which the whole world can live," a supposed goal of the Srila Prabhupada Centennial. Additionally, in light of the considerations presented within this book, it cannot be considered srota pantha (divine descending dispensation from the Supreme Absolute).
Society Consciousness and God Consciousness
Responding to the necessity of the times Srila Sridhara Maharaja lucidly explains the absolute societal conception of Krsna consciousness:
Devotee: Within a religious mission, sectarian policies may appear to bar the path of progress and pragmatic concerns take precedence over spiritual ideals. Should one risk leaving the formal institution or should he try to remain within and work out the problems?
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: Progress means elimination and new acceptance. So, when there is a clash between the relative and the absolute standpoint, the relative must be left aside, and the absolute accepted. The example is given of a socialist in a country of capitalists. When there is a clash, one will not express their creed for the sake of peace. But to maintain the purity of their faith for the socialists they will try to leave and join the socialists.
So, the absolute and the
relative are two different classes of interest. And we find more importance in
the absolute interest. We must be sincere to our own creed. The form is
necessary to help me in a general way to maintain my present position. At the
same time, my conception of the higher ideal will always goad me to advance, to
go forward, and wherever I do, I must follow the greater model, the greater ideal.
Spiritual life is progressive, not stagnant. We are in the stage of sadhana,
and we want to go ahead, not backwards. The formal position will help me to
maintain my present status, and my extraordinary affinity for the ideal will
goad me towards the front. The search for Sri Krsna is dynamic and living, so
adjustment and readjustment is always going on. And we should also change our
present position accordingly, so that we may not have to sacrifice the high
ideal for which we have come. Einstein had to leave
Many things are recommended in the scriptures, but they are meant to promote us towards the truth in an indirect way (sva-dharme nidhanam sreya). [Bg 3.35] It is recommended at a certain stage that for the sake of our close friends, we should give up our ideal. But in the Bhagavad-gita, Krsna's final instruction is sarva dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja: "If it is necessary to maintain the highest ideal, you must give up your friends. Surrender to me. I am the real purport of the scriptures." The highest kind of idealists give up their country, their family, their friends, and everything else, but they can't give up their ideal.
In the Bhagavad-gita, [3.35] Krsna says, "It is better to die while performing one's duty that to try to do another's duty." That is one stage of understanding: the relative consideration. The absolute consideration is also given in the Bhagavad-gita: sarva dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja [Bg. 18.66]. Krsna says, "Give up everything. Come to Me directly." This is the revolutionary way. This is absolute. And this is relative: "Stick to your own clan. Don't leave them." That is the national conception. There is nation consciousness and God consciousness; society consciousness and God consciousness. God consciousness is absolute. If society consciousness hinders the development of God consciousness, it should be left behind. This is confirmed in the Srimad-Bhagavatam (5.5.18):
gurur na sa syat sva jano na sa syat
pita na sa syaj janani na sa syat
daivam na tat syan na patis ca sa syan
na mocayed yah samupeta mrtyum
Even a spiritual master, relative, parent, husband, or demigod who cannot save us from repeated birth and death should be abandoned at once.
What to speak of ordinary things, even the guru, may have to be abandoned. One may even have to give up one's own spiritual guide, as in the case of Bali Maharaja, or one's relatives, as in the case of Vibhisana. In the case of Prahlada, his father had to be given up, and in the case of Bharata Maharaja, it was his mother. In the case of Khatvanga Maharaja, he left the demigods, and in the case of the yajna patnis, (the wives of the brahmanas) they left their husbands in the endeavor to reach the Absolute Personality.
Sincere Never Deceived
We need society only to help us. If our affinity to the society keeps us down, then that should be given up, and we must march on. There is the absolute consideration and the relative consideration. When they come into clash, the relative must be given up, and the absolute should be accepted. If my inner voice, my spiritual conscience decides that this sort of company cannot really help me, then I will be under painful necessity to give them up, and to run towards my destination, wherever my spiritual conscience guides me. Any other course will be hypocrisy, and it will check my real progress. If we are sincere in our attempt, then no one in the world can check us or deceive us; we can only deceive ourselves (na hi kalyana-krt kascid durgatim tata gacchati) [Bg. 6.40]. We must be true to our own selves, and true to the Supreme Lord. We must be sincere.
Devotee: After the disappearance of the spiritual master, how should the disciples continue the mission?
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: You must not neglect your conscience. Otherwise you have no faith in your own cause. There may be disturbances but we should not leave the preaching of Mahaprabhu, despite all differences. Disturbances must come, and we must undergo them. Still, we must remain sincere; we must face the difficulty in a proper way. It has come to train us to go in the right direction.
The Fire has Come to Test Us
What we have received from our spiritual master we understood only in a rough estimation. Now, things have come in such a way that we have to scrutinize ourselves in every position. We have to analyze ourselves. Atma-niksepa, self-analysis has begun. We are under trial. What we have received from our spiritual master, in what way have we received it? Properly, or only showingly? The time has come to purify us, to test whether we are real students, real disciples, or his disciples only in face and confession. What is the position of a real disciple? If we live in a society, what is the depth of our creed? In what attitude have we accepted his teachings? How deep-rooted is it within us? The fire has come to test whether we can stand. Is our acceptance real? Or is it a sham, an imitation? This fire will prove that.
So, this is the real field of sadhana, or practice. Our practice, our advancement needs these difficulties. Otherwise, we may not know what is progress, and we will become hypocrites, and give the adulterated thing to others. So, to purify ourselves, it is necessary that so many disturbances come.
And God has no error. He commands the environment. It is not our responsibility. The responsibility of the environment does not rest upon us. If I am sincere, then I have to adjust myself with this environment and put my faith before Him. "Everyone may leave me, but I shall stand alone!" With this attitude we must march on, whatever the circumstances may be. Then the recognition may come in my favor, that "Yes, under such trying circumstances he is still there." Our superiors will be pleased with us.
The relative and absolute considerations are always coming in clash. The absolute should be accepted and the relative sacrificed. Still the relative is necessary. After graduation from primary school another teacher is accepted for higher education, but that does not mean that the primary teacher is neglected or insulted. For our own interest, whatever we find which is akin to what was given to us by our guru maharaja, whatever we find that will enlighten us further, and whatever will help us to understand more clearly what we heard from our guru maharaja, must be accepted. Is my realization a living thing, or is it dead? Anyone who has come in connection with the infinite cannot but say this: "I am nothing." That should be the salient point.
We have left all social concerns and so many other shackles. For what? For the Absolute Truth. And wherever I shall find that, I must bow down my head. And if a great soul shows us, "This is the path to where you will find your thirst quenched. The line is in this zigzag way," we must accept that for our own interest. We are worshipers not of this form, but of substance. Wherever I feel the presence of my Lord in an intense form, I must be attracted to that side. Krsna says, sarva dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja. Wherever we shall find Him, we must run in that direction. My interest is with Him. Not that we can challenge, "Why did Krsna appear here, and why is He appearing there?" If a man in a boat is passing through the current and finds himself in danger, then from whatever side help may come, he must run to that side.
If we are worshipers of Siva, when we understand the special superiority of Narayana, should we stick to Siva? And then Krsna? In the Brhad-bhagavatamrta the story is told of how Gopa-kumara, by chanting his Gopala mantra, gradually leaves one stage and progresses to the next. There, the gradation of devotion is traced from the karma-kanda brahmana, to a devotee king, then to Indra, then to Brahma, then to Siva, from him to Prahlada, then to Hanuman, then the Pandavas, then to the Yadavas, to Uddhava, and finally the gopis. In this zigzag way he is passing. In the sincerity of his quest, his thirst is not being quenched until he goes to Vrndavana. So, the Brhad-bhagavatamrta has shown us the line of guru parampara, or the real line of our quest, of our search.
Sincere Hankering for the Truth is Our Guide
If we are sincerely searching after real truth, then wherever we go may be a contribution to our experience for further preaching in the future. We may cross many guru paramparas before ultimately attaining the Vraja-lila of Krsna, as given by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
Sometimes the father may not be our guardian. Our uncle may be our guide, and not the father. It is possible. The line of interest is to be considered the most important. So, our line is the siksa guru parampara.
I am thankful to those that are helping my spiritual understanding not only in a formal way, but in the real sense. Whoever is untying the knots of our entanglement in this material world, giving us light, and quenching our thirst for inner understanding and satisfaction is our guru. In this way, we live on the contribution of all these spiritual masters. They are all our siksa gurus. All the Vaisnavas are more or less our instructing spiritual masters.
And our own sincere hankering for the truth will be our guide. That is guru parampara. So the real disciplic line provides practical knowledge in support of the divine love which is coming down. We must bow our heads wherever we find support of that. We should not become formalists, but substantialists; not fashionists, not imitationists, but realistic thinkers. That should always be our temperament.
And what sort of saintly persons shall we try to mix with earnestly? In the Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu (1.2.91) Rupa Goswami has said, sajati-yasye snigdhe sadhau sangah svato vare: Those who are in our line, who have the same high spiritual aspirations as we do, and who hold a superior position. To associate with such saintly persons will help us the most to progress towards the ultimate goal.
There may be some obstacles, but if at heart we are sincere, the environment cannot deceive us, because God's inner help is there, cooperating with our sincere, inner need (na hi kalyana krt kascit durgatim tata gacchati) [Bg. 6.40]. What we want from our innermost hearts cannot but come true, because Krsna knows everything. There may be some obstacles, but by Krsna's help, they shall all be eliminated and our innermost aspiration will be crowned with success.
The formal societal position helps one to maintain their present status while our affinity for the high ideal will always push us to advance in Krsna consciousness. In the Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.5.18 it is stated that whatever hinders our advancement must be left behind, even society consciousness. The society is there to help us, not hinder us. Our process is Krsna consciousness not society consciousness.
Commentary: An analysis of the articles in the Back to Godhead Magazine reveals an excessive use of the word ISKCON whereas a study of articles written by Srila Prabhupada within the same magazine will show that he rarely used the term ISKCON. This overidentification with societal consciousness appears to reveal an inner insecurity of the devotees wherein they must repeatedly reassure themselves. We also find that many devotees take the name of Srila Prabhupada very freely and cheaply as if to show their sincere dedication to Srila Prabhupada, while at the same time they may or may not be actually engaged in activities pleasing to Srila Prabhupada.
Follow the Line
From the examples of our previous acaryas we see that they follow the ideal of Krsna consciousness not the external form. Chastity to one's guru cannot be judged by whether or not one remains in the formal institution. If the institution deviates from the high ideal that it is to represent, then the sincere should not follow. Srila Prabhupada said that the Gaudiya Math fought amongst themselves and became asarauseless. Prabhupada himself left this formal mission of his guru.
Deviation Produces Devotion?
ISKCON has also deviated from pure devotional service. This has been clearly explained in a previous section in this chapter entitled, Is Srila Sridhara Maharaja's Mood different than Prabhupada's and throughout this presentation. Srila Sridhara Maharaja assures us above that if the disciple follows the ideal given by his guru then success will follow. If, however, one deviates from this ideal they will not achieve success. Only bhakti produces bhakti —bhaktya sanjataya bhaktya ( Bhag. 11.3.31 ). Deviation will not produce devotion.
Our Affectionate Guardians: Chapter Five
Zonal Acarya System
Excerpt from first meeting of GBC with Srila Sridhara Maharaja (March 1978 ~ Full Transcript available):
Jayapataka Maharaja: The first question was, that some of the disciples of Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja, his hari-nama initiates, then when they approach one of these eleven and take initiation then they would like to know who is the guru amongst the eleven.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: A disciple, he may like one-first or third or fourth or fifth, how to solve that.
Tamal Krsna Maharaja: That we must solve.
Free Guru Choice by Sraddha
Jayapataka Maharaja: He can take who he likes, he may take whichever one he wants?
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: According to his sraddha.
Devotee: His faith.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: According to his sraddha a newcomer should be given some time. Who will come to be initiated, he should be given some time for a fair period of time to hear from different persons and then the sraddha, the faith . . .
Devotee: . . . will be awakened.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: Ah, will be considered to whom he will submit. Do you follow?
GBC Assembly: Yes.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: After sravan, then varan, five stages there are; first is to hear. The first stage is to hear and the second stage, that is varan, that is, acceptance by the guru and the sisya, both the preceptor and the disciple. That is the second stage, varan dasa. Then the sadhana or the attempt for realization will begin. First stage, to hear openly, open field-fair field to hear-then the connection should come between the guru and sisya-preceptor and disciple, both sides. Then that should be better. Sravan dasa, then varan, then sadhana dasa, apan dasa, prapan dasa-five stages in sadhana in spiritual life.
Submission to guru is unconditional. So when I shall see that my guru is being oppressed by another guru, another Vaisnava, it will create a great disturbance in the mind of the sisya. But our Krsna conscious conception of Godhead has come to relieve you. Whom we think the Supreme-most Krsna, Yasoda is whipping Him and Nanda's paduka (shoes), He is taking them on His head-the Supreme-most devata, Deity. So in this way also, we can adjust-both the absolute faith and the relative position of the non-absolute. These two things should be harmonized. After the departure of our gurudeva, it was thought that one acarya should be made-then, naturally, different acaryas came. Then when some of us proposed many acaryas, I told one thing. If someone marries, a separate room is necessary. Do you follow? Whenever a Vaisnava does not initiate he does not want any special place or special respect, but whenever he initiates, he is absolute in the eyes of his disciples. The sisya cannot tolerate that any other Vaisnava will come to disturb the absolute position of my guru. This heart's feeling-sentiment. How to adjust, it is a very difficult thing.
Difficult to Manage Practically
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: So, it will be very difficult to manage practically the democratic, absolute characteristic. Difficult, but still we shall have to go on and make, according to the will of Krsna it will be adjusted.
Jayapataka Maharaja: So, the initiating gurus, then, it would be more practical for them to have a separate board to decide on addition of new gurus?
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: No; what I came to conclusion with these experiences -- but how in this great universal institution that should be applied? At least one place should be there where the disciples can get their guru exclusively, but that will not be possible practically.. . . Go with fair feeling, go on with fair feeling, this utmost I can suggest to you.
Tamal Krsna Maharaja: Maharaja, we are so much grateful.
GBC Assembly: Jaya.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: That will be fair for you, that you will extend it from the ritvik board. Who is already empowered, they will extend, their consideration. They can extend their scope. If you move in this way it will have spiritual characteristic. Do you follow?
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: These eleven, they will extend themselves. From this point, it will be -- the area of the acaryaship will be extended. Then gradually twenty-four or more, but it will spread from this point, extend-bigger, bigger, bigger. That you may do, to keep the spiritual characteristic of the extension of the acarya board.
Commentary: Here Srila Sridhara Maharaja clearly gives sound advice. Although he mentions that in his experience and according to sastra the disciple requires freedom and space to properly worship his guru, he further indicates that this principle is very difficult to apply in such a large institution as ISKCON. He emphasizes that the management must have spiritual characteristic and this will be so if the number of gurus is extended. Further the ISKCON management must try to be fair and just in their decisions.
Free Guru Choice by Sraddha ~ Reiterated
Later, Srila Sridhara Maharaja spoke further:
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: It should be the duty of the godbrother, not holding the position of acarya, to show the disciples how to give special regard for their gurudeva. But, the acarya, he is obligated to teach the newcomers that they must respect their brother. Then only can it go in a harmonious way for some time. So you have to show some respect. They also have received grace of my gurudeva. My gurudeva's grace, if it is in me, it is in them also. So you must look at them with respect.
Devotee: But these acaryas, they are not teaching their disciples to show respect to their godbrothers. Sometimes the oppposite.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: Then my suggestions to keep the unity are that a person of one zone may accept a guru of another zone. Free choice by sraddha. He who has preference for one acarya but is compelled to accept one whom he considers to be lower, that is an anomaly. That zonal arrangement is against free choice. Also, new appointments of acaryas from amongst the brothers who are considered fit, that sort of position should also be there. . . By sacrifice we come together. By serving attitude we come together. By assertion we part off, distance is created by self-assertion. By self-sacrifice we unite.
Did Srila Sridhara Maharaja Reinitiate Srila Prabhupada's Disciples?
Srila Sridhara Maharaja has been portrayed as eager to collect Srila Prabhupada's disciples, as several of his godbrothers were. The following section includes excerpts from various darshans of Srila Sridhara Maharaja. These excerpts reveal that Srila Sridhara Maharaja's mood was in fact just the opposite. Srila Sridhara Maharaja expressed many times, however, that he could not ignore those having a faith crisis-he felt it his duty to give them strength, to nurture them and in some cases connect them to the source of their newfound faith-a natural spiritual progression.
Many Came to Take Sannyasa
Darshan with Srila Sridhara Maharaja: August 19, 1980:
" Swami Maharaja had earlier approached me to train up some boys, but first he sent them to Bon Maharaja, disciples like Acyutananda, Ramanuja and some others. But Bon Maharaja, he took one away from your guru maharaja and made him into his own disciple and then he wrote to me in the name of Govinda Maharaja asking me to look after the boys. That letter I still have. So Acyutananda and Ramanuja came first and he wanted me to train them up. As he always had great trust in me that I will not make a disciple out of his disciple. For this reason he would come to me and also he knew me from earlier days. Pisima had taken hari-nama diska from Bhaktisiddhanta Srila Prabhupada and she had come to me for the second initiation. At that time I decided not to give any diksa because I thought myself unfit. But yet on the other side there was Bhaktisiddhanta Srila Prabhupada's order to give diksa pracar. So I was wavering between these two points. On one side, my guru's orders and on the other side I thought myself unfit and not to give diksa. But more the point that I did not want to give was more prominent. I went to Sripad Nityananda Prabhu's place and there I felt an urge to give diksa. And then reading Srila Jiva Goswami I came across a point where it said that I should give what I have. If I don't give what I have then I am a cheat, short. All these points, and Bhaktisiddhanta Srila Prabhupada was always in favor of kirtan and pracar. All these points, so when Pisima came I had to turn her away. Many people had come, many many nice people had come, but I had to turn them away, all of them. They all wanted me to become acarya. Madhava Maharaja, Goswami Maharaja and Kesava Maharaja would not have become acaryas if I had taken up this post of being acarya. They all wanted me to become the acarya and if I had become acarya then they would not have become. Especially Madhava Maharaja and Kesava Maharaja, and many others, even Jagjivan Maharaja. They started initiating because I did not want to initiate. So your Srila Prabhupada had great faith in me that I will not try to lure away one of his disciples. I did not want to become a big person. That is not in my nature. I did not want to move around with many people. I'm just satisfied with whatever I have. I am only concerned about my high thinking. That is my life. My spiritual thinking is my life. The conclusions of the scriptures, the advices of the mahajanas, to relish them and practice them, and to discuss them in a small confidential circle, that is the main goal of my life. That's why he used to trust me."
The following is from a darshan on 2nd October 1981:
"Many came to take sannyasa from me but I didn't give consent. I am told that Swami Maharaja came here with that view [to take sannyasa] but he hesitated to put it before me. Then I heard that he had taken sannyasa from Kesava Maharaja. And Kesava Maharaja himself, he took sannyasa from me. First, Goswami Maharaja, the founder of Gaudiya Sanga, he took sannyasa from me. And the third person to take sannyasa from me was Kesava Maharaja. And then many big men came to take sannyasa from me but my conscience would not allow me to give sannyasa to them."
We Will Be Responsible to Mahaprabhu
11th January 1982
"I told that so many good souls that came under the flag of Mahaprabhu through Swami Maharaja-they will fast and die? So, some relief work should be done, that was my intention, avoiding all possible clashes with the main distribution [preaching of ISKCON], no clash with the main distribution, but only relief work, that is my only concern-the big souls, the great souls, they are being aloof, and going away and becoming indifferent to Swami Maharaja and Mahaprabhu and our Guru Maharaja, Srimad-Bhagavatam and Krsna. And I shall stand and tolerate all these things-seeing that, I shall feel that I won't see. That is difficult for me. So, I ask my friends, 'Start some relief work, to save your own friends, those who are not encouraged by the present organizers.' It is obvious that they will rely more on the sons than on the brothers. It is a general thing, and we have the sad experience in our own distribution like that. So, I could conjecture that such things should occur, and indifferently we shall try to help them somewhat, otherwise we will be responsible to Mahaprabhu, although personally I am not fit to carry on with the responsibility of many devotees, especially in this old age.
It is very deplorable that that gentleman [former leading devotee] has turned into an atheist. He came so far and now suddenly bankrupt? No faith in Krsna? It was all just a show, mere show? Otherwise, how is such sudden degradation possible? Unless he has committed vaishnava-aparadha, such sudden degradation is not possible-almost atheist. Maybe some despair, dejection may come, he may suffer from dejection, despair, but atheist?"
"His sraddha bankrupt, and his sraddha was only a show? Only an imitative play-a dramatic show? Hare Krsna. He may quarrel with the institution as a whole, but separately he must go on in his own way. How can he live and he has become an atheist? It is all so inconceivable to me. Gaura Hari bol Gaura Hari bol. Nitai."
Prabhupada's Disciples Never Reinitiated
Srila Sridhara Maharaja never re-initiated any of Srila Prabhupada's initiated disciples. Some of Srila Prabhupada's disciples, out of their great love and affection for Srila Sridhara Maharaja, recognizing his unlimited grace, felt that they wanted some sort of affectionate connection with him. So, he gave a name or spoke a mantra to them-in the spirit of encouragement-hardly could this be called a re-initiation. We may recall that it was Srila Sridhara Maharaja himself who suggested the name 'Bhaktivedanta' for Srila Prabhupada-confirmed by the assembled godbrothers. This was after Srila Prabhupada's name had been changed to Bhaktisiddhanta Adhikari Dasa by another godbrother (see Jansi League of Devotees Registration certificate for two such signatures of Srila Prabhupada). So Srila Prabhupada had his name changed twice and the second time Srila Sridhara Maharaja adjusted Prabhupada's name in response to complaints of other godbrothers, that the guru's name was not proper for the disciple. Srila Sridhara Maharaja is also the sannyasa guru of Srila Prabhupada's sannyasa guru, so in this way, he is substantially connected to our parampara prior to Srila Prabhupada and as such his activities should not be questioned in this way. Many have wished to deny this essential truth. Our heart charmed we also requested our sannyasa guru [H H Bhaktigaurava Narasingha Maharaja] for a name change by Srila Sridhara Maharaja in a loving spirit of reciprocation and were happily accomodated.
Pisima Came For Initiation
Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami: Some people, they came to you and you were telling that you felt yourself unfit and you sent them away in the beginning?
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: Yes, I sent some, Madan's mother, Swami Maharaja's sister [Pisima] came to me, she had harinama from Prabhupada [Bhaktisiddhanta]. For initiation, she came to me, but at that time I was hesitating. I sent her to Goswami Maharaja. If I am not going to take up this duty, and he has taken up, if you have faith in me, I recommend that you go there. I did, and many I did.
Reinitiation: Grand Disciples Only
Those who were disciples of our godbrothers who had lost faith in their guru were sometimes given re-initiation. Srila Sridhara Maharaja was most careful in this regard. Many were refused. Mukunda Mala dasa, a first initiated disciple of Srila Prabhupada with diksa (gayatri) from a disciple of Srila Prabhupada, had lost all faith in his mantra guru and taken off his brahmana thread. In a disparaged state he had approached Srila Sridhara Maharaja. His faith in this divine process rekindled by the potent hearing sessions of Srila Sridhara Maharaja he requested diksa initiation. Srila Sridhara Maharaja then requested that his mantra guru be approached first for permission. Later he was initiated as Swami Bhakti Vidhan Mahayogi. Many within ISKCON, having lost their taste for Krsna consciousness, found great inspiration and renewed enthusiasm in the words of Srila Sridhara Maharaja. And subsequent to giving initiation to devotees whose faith had been rekindled, Srila Sridhara Maharaja sent them back to ISKCON with the instruction to continue their service there as before. The response of ISKCON to this was complete intolerance--the GBC issued an ultimatum that if these devotees wished to continue their service in ISKCON then they must reject their initiation. No proper attempt was made to approach Srila Sridhara Maharaja in a mature mood of trying to understand and work this out. Nor was consideration given to these devotees developed faith in their guru. These devotees then had no choice but to join completely with Srila Sridhara Maharaja. So, Srila Sridhara Maharaja's mood was that of relief work for the discouraged and in no way was he 'trying to collect ISKCON's devotees as disciples.'
Three disenfranchised ISKCON devotees left ISKCON to hear from Srila Sridhara Maharaja. After hearing from Srila Sridhara Maharaja for some time they were given sannyasa--a natural spiritual progression in their ongoing intimate relationship. This was interpreted by the ISKCON leaders as an intolerable attack--that he was stealing their men.
Our Affectionate Guardians: Chapter Five
Purity is the Force
Following the Mayapur GBC meetings in 1982, a paper entitled, Purity is the Force, was published by the GBC in an attempt to justify their harsh legislation in regards to Srila Sridhara Maharaja. This paper was written anonymously by two GBC members. One author’s previous lavish glorification of Srila Sridhara Maharaja is presented earlier in this book. The substance of this paper, Purity is the Force, consists of accusations formulated from commonly misunderstood issues, purposeful misinformation, gross distortion of the truth and bold-faced statements which bear no semblance of truth. The ontology of these accusations is strikingly similar in methodology to the deprogrammers anti-cult techniques of propagating fear. In Larry D. Shinn’s article, "Religious Freedom and the Psychology of Fear: The Hare Krsnas on Trial," published in the Iskcon Communications Journal, Issue Number 1, 1993, four tried and true techniques are given:
–Guilt by association
–Manipulation of public opinion by exaggerated stories
–Dismissing contradictory and scholarly evidence by name-calling
–Lastly the most "insidious" technique to engender cult fear is the "Big Lie."
If we make an honest comparison between the ontological presentation herein and that of "Purity is the Force" we submit that one will see a vast difference. In the former (this book) we have tried our level best to present the truth logically and respectfully as it is, whereas a close look at the latter reveals that although it may have served the apparent needs of the moment, it fails miserably to "stand the test of time," apparently utilizing the techniques mentioned above by Mr. Shinn. In consideration of just this method of presentation one Prabhupada disciple quipped,
"If this has anything to do with Krsna consciousness, I don’t want anything to do with it."
In the following section the accusations contained in the official GBC paper "Purity is the Force" are answered. We hope that our readers are able to understand that this unfortunate and offensive publication has been presented in a biased way, written in a very strong accusatory and inflamitory manner, in an attempt to discredit the good character and exhaulted spiritual standing of Srila Sridhara Maharaja.
Books are the Basis
In the paper "Purity is the Force," it is alleged that Srila Sridhara Maharaja says that Srila Prabhupada’s books are for the masses, and insufficient for reaching the perfection of Krsna consciousness. This is a complete fabrication. It is of course well known that Srila Prabhupada said that everything was in his books:
In my books the philosophy of Krsna Consciousness is explained fully so if there is anything which you do not understand, then you simply have to read again and again. By reading daily, the knowledge will be revealed to you and by this process your spiritual life will develop. So the cleansing process is this chanting and hearing and doing some service and trying to please the Spiritual Master. By this process our consciousness becomes clear and we are able to understand everything. You may please me the most by reading my books and following the instructions therein and by becoming fully Krsna Conscious in this life time. (Ltr Bahurupa 74-11-22)
Maintain your activities and increase gradually. I have instructed everything in my books. (Ltr Dina Dayal 76-02-25)
I have given my ideas and direction in my books. People appreciate. I think from my side I have done everything. (770429RC.BOM)
If they (the GBC) cannot answer from their experience, then I have given answer in my books–and still if they cannot answer, they may ask me. (Ltr Kirtika ~ 72-02-16)
And if Srila Prabhupada isn’t available, whom shall we ask?
Numerous quotes by Iskcon stalwarts, presented in the beginning of chapter five, attest to the veracity of Srila Prabhupada’s instruction that we should approach Srila Sridhara Maharaja when we have questions. Additionally, many quotes of Srila Prabhupada attesting to his high regard and absolute faith in Srila Sridhara Maharaja have been presented throughout this document.
. . who is the most highly competent of all my godbrothers. This is B. R.
Sridhara Maharaja, whom I consider to be even my siksa guru."
"What Sripada Sridhara Maharaja has directed, I take it on my head . . . it is appropriate that I should accept his direction." (SP Ltr Govinda Mj ~ 69-01-29)
What Govinda Maharaja has said is true. I consider him my dear son, and his guru as my siksa guru. (SP ~ Iskcon Mayapur Candrodaya Mandira opening ceremony 1974)
Those who are intelligent, they are making something, Sridhara Maharaja and others. (770113RC.ALL)
of my important Godbrothers says. He’s sincere.
If we follow the instructions in Srila Prabhupada’s books then we will find that he also strongly recommends reading other books, provided of course that one is qualified:
. . . False devotees think that studying books of the previous acaryas is inadvisable, like studying dry empiric philosophies. But Srila Jiva Goswami, following the previous acaryas, has inculcated the conclusions of the scriptures in the six theses called the Sat-sandarbhas. False devotees who have very little knowledge of such conclusions fail to achieve pure devotion for want of zeal in accepting the favorable directions for devotional service given by self-realized devotees. (Cc. Adi-lila 2.117, purport)
"Sri Sanatana Goswami Prabhu, the teacher of the science of devotional service, wrote several books, of which the Brhad-bhagavatamrta is very famous; anyone who wants to know about the subject matter of devotees, devotional service and Krsna must read this book." (Cc. Adi-lila 5.203)
Within the past five hundred years, many erudite scholars and acaryas like Jiva Gosvami, Sanatana Gosvami, Visvanatha Cakravarti, Vallabhacarya, and many other distinguished scholars even after the time of Lord Caitanya made elaborate commentaries on the Bhagavatam. And the serious student would do well to attempt to go through them to better relish the transcendental messages. (Bhag. 1.1.1. purport)
Bhaktivinoda £hakura happens to be acaryas, one of the acaryas. And he has left behind him many books. Caitanya-siksamrta, Jaiva Dharma. These are very important books. They’re in Bengali, in Sanskrit. And many songs. He has prepared many books of song. The song, Ei nam gaya gauracand madhura svare, that is Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s song. So we are trying to present Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s books also in English translation. Gradually you will get it. (690923BA.LON)
We have to worship the acaryas. That is recommended in the Bhagavad-gita, for making advancement in spiritual life, acaryopasana. So this is acaryopasana, by reading their books, nana-sastra-vicaranaika-nipunau sad-dharma-samsthapakau. Why studying so many books? For the sake of establishing real religious life. Sad-dharma. (710628LE.SF)
That we should not try to read Bhaktivinoda’s books or earlier books of
other, all acaryas. So I was just wondering...
In chapter one, in the section entitled "Temple of Understanding" we have presented excerpts from two room conversations between Srila Prabhupada and Srila Sridhara Maharaja wherein it is disclosed that the idea for a very large Vedic Planetarium originated from Srila Sridhara Maharaja and that he has taken its conceptual ontology depicting the gradations of theistic evolution from his favorite book, the Brhad-bhagavatamrta.
Similar other quotes substantiating the necessity to scrutinize books other than his can be found throughout Srila Prabhupada’s books. Thus it is not only the opinion of Srila Sridhara Maharaja and his present followers, but Srila Prabhupada himself has also recommended the study of the teachings of the other Vaisnava acaryas. Of course, study of the scriptures must be done under the direction of the spiritual master, otherwise one may become distracted to the path of jnana, which is opposed to the path of bhakti. It is also a well known fact that the majority of senior Iskcon leaders all extensively read books other than Srila Prabhupada’s books to supplement their preaching and writing activities. A careful reading of Srila Sridhara Maharaja’s "Sri Guru and his Grace" provides one with a plethora of perfect sastric advice tailored exactly to the necessity of the troubled times. Those who categorically disregard this book are precisely the ones who need to read it. And Srila Prabhupada, having implicit faith in Srila Sridhara Maharaja instructed us that we should approach Srila Sridhara Maharaja.
It was purported in the paper "Purity is the Force" that Srila Sridhara Maharaja had awarded sannyasa and brahmana initiation to Iskcon devotees who were initiated by Srila Prabhupada, thereby committing an offense to Srila Prabhupada. This fabrication, in respect to reinitiation, is soundly refuted in chapter five in the section entitled, "Did Srila Sridhara Maharaja Reinitiate Srila Prabhupada’s Disciples?"
It was also claimed in "Purity is the Force" that giving sannyasa initiation to Iskcon devotees was a violation of Srila Prabhupada’s direction to the GBC that any nomination for sannyasa must come from the GBC as advised by Srila Prabhupada. The fact is that these three devotees who took sannyasa had lost complete faith in the GBC and had been staying in Srila Sridhara Maharaja’s asrama for many months absorbing his high level talks. The GBC as a result of their unannounced 1981 decision to stop taking siksa from Srila Sridhara Maharaja were not available for discussion. Previously Srila Sridhara Maharaja had always given due consideration to the GBC’s policies as much as possible. Srila Sridhara Maharaja could not easily dismiss the genuine desires of these devotees to embrace the high ideals of sannyasa life. Nor, as admitted by the very GBC themselves, was Srila Sridhara Maharaja expected to come under their jurisdiction.
Gaudiya Matha Breakup
The authors of "Purity is the Force" attempt to blame Srila Sridhara Maharaja for the fighting amongst Gaudiya Matha factions after the disappearance of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura and the Gaudiya Mathas subsequent breakup. The primary evidence cited for this supposition is Srila Prabhupada’s 1974 letter to Rupanuga. We have discussed this letter in chapter five in the section entitled "Most Highly Competent of My Godbrothers," wherein it is revealed that this letter is out of concert with the overall entirety of Srila Prabhupada’s loving relationship with his dear godbrother Srila Sridhara Maharaja. Additionally, chapter three comprises a detailed history of events pertinent to this issue, all of which greatly clarify Srila Sridhara Maharaja’s actual position. The truth of the matter is that time and again Srila Sridhara Maharaja was asked to settle disputes amongst the Gaudiya Math’s warring members, to arrange compromises when no-one else dared approach certain members out of fear. In the purport of Caitanya-caritamrta Adi-lila 12.8, Srila Prabhupada writes:
The words daivera karana indicate that by dint of providence, or by God’s will, the followers of Advaita Acarya divided into two parties. Such disagreement among the disciples of one acarya is also found among the members of the Gaudiya Matha.
Thus, the cause of the split in the Gaudiya Matha is clearly indicated by Srila Prabhupada to be "by dint of providence, or by God’s will." One year previous to writing the Rupanuga letter, Srila Prabhupada addressed his disciples, in the presence of Srila Sridhara Maharaja at Srila Sridhara Maharaja’s temple in Navadvipa. Srila Prabhupada, with full knowledge of the events surrounding the disintegration of the Gaudiya Matha, stated:
. . . our relationship is very intimate. After the breakdown of the Gaudiya Matha I wanted to organize another organization making Sridhara Maharaja as the head." (730317RC.MAY)
In the Srila Prabhupada Lilamrta, Vol. 1, page 100, Satsvarupa Maharaja clearly mentions Srila Sridhara Maharaja’s non-involvement in this entire affair:
Sridhara Maharaja’s establishment of a Matha in Mayapur with a branch in Calcutta was his response to the Gaudiya Matha split . . . Here Abhay and Sridhara Maharaja could remain aloof from the warring factions and together pursue their plans for spreading Krsna consciousness.
Here the Lilamrta is referring to the subleasing by Srila Sridhara Maharaja of four downstairs rooms from Srila Prabhupada at Sita Kanta Bannerjee Lane in Calcutta. If Srila Sridhara Maharaja was in actuality responsible for the splitting of the Gaudiya Matha, why would Srila Prabhupada ask him to be the president of Iskcon? Why did Srila Prabhupada say that we should go to Srila Sridhara Maharaja after his disappearance, if he didn’t trust him? Rather than belabor this point we refer the readers to the innumerable additional heavily documented arguments presented throughout this presentation.
Further Insubstantial Accusations
Accusation 1: Guru Puja Excessive
"Sridhara Maharaja has said that the daily guru-puja performed for Srila Prabhupada in Iskcon temples is excessive and unnecessary. Therefore, Srila Prabhupada’s followers disobey Prabhupada’s order to follow this when they stay in the Matha of Sridhara Maharaja, although Srila Prabhupada said it was necessary for his disciples."
When queried on the subject of guru-puja by an Iskcon acarya who humbly felt reluctant to accept such elaborate worship as was being offered to him (on March 5th, 1981), Srila Sridhara Maharaja replied that the function of guru-puja was conducted for Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura only once a year on his appearance day, and this was the general practice. Sometimes individual details vary amongst different acaryas, although the essence and goal of their teachings are one.
is no reason why acaryas cannot differ on certain points.
The majestic mood of our Srila Prabhupada was more manifest than that exhibited by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakura Prabhupada, but we are fully aware that Srila Prabhupada never minimized Srila Bhaktisiddhanta’s glories by accepting such a gorgeous guru-puja daily. Similarly, Srila Sridhara Maharaja never claimed that Srila Prabhupada’s guru-puja was excessive or unnecessary. On the contrary, he stated that Srila Prabhupada offered that worship cent per cent to his guru maharaja, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati £hakura.
Furthermore, Srila Sridhara Maharaja was the first person amongst all his own godbrothers (and amongst Srila Prabhupada’s disciples) to acclaim Srila Prabhupada as a Saktyavesa Avatara:
One thing is that he was jagat guru. Jagat guru, he has some special inspiration, saktyavesa avatara as I like to tell about him. He was saktyavesa avatara, the abode of some special potency of the Lord. Otherwise, with whose work would not have been possible, by any ordinary acarya, saktyavesa. So a special consideration for him.
In chapter four numerous quotes and other evidence is presented substantiating the extremely high regard of Srila Sridhara Maharaja for Srila Prabhupada. In regards to the necessity for guru-puja, Srila Prabhupada wrote in his Vaisistastakam:
But simply a festival of flowers and fruits does not constitute worship. The one who serves the message of the guru really serves him.
And let us not forget that it was at the Matha of Srila Sridhara Maharaja that Srila Prabhupada’s disciples were instructed by Prabhupada to learn how to observe guru-puja. (Ltr Satsvarupa Oct. 26, 1967)
Srila Sridhara Maharaja did say on August 18, 1980,
According to my consideration, as I hear it, the grandeur of the acarya, the puja of the present acaryas, it is undesirable and too much and that will create some difficulty. It should be modified. The way in which the acarya puja has been established, that should be modified to suit the circumstances and some adjustment with the godbrothers should be made. A protocol, a spiritual protocol should be evolved which may not be very harmful to the body, to the association, the Iskcon organization.
Earlier Pradyumna’s 1978 prophesy of difficulties due to this overzealous worship was recognized by Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu as perspicuously accurate in its predictions. Also in the 1985 publication of Satsvarupa Maharaja, "Terms and Policies for Revised Guru Worship" it is stated:
"It has become more apparent that daily guru-puja [for the present Iskcon gurus] is questionable."
The very much revised policies for guru worship in themselves admit that the former worship was excessive and inappropriate. The "Revised Guru Worship" presentation states:
"It is not required in the sastras or in the Gaudiya tradition, that there be the formal full arati/guru-puja in the temple every day. This daily puja was not apparently offered to recent acaryas such as Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura or Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura."
Ironically, elsewhere in the same "Revised Guru Worship" paper it is written,
"If the different worship systems we have instituted are excessive, my answer is that we did not know what to do because there was no precedent or scriptural rule that told us specifically what to do."
Yet, this same topic was articulated by Srila Sridhara Maharaja precisely and substantially for years on end to these very same gurus and GBC members, as we have earlier shown. And similar advice based on his many discussions with Srila Sridhara Maharaja was suggested by Pradyumna Prabhu in 1978, for which he was for all practical purposes, kicked out of Iskcon. Let us also not forget that several times various Iskcon gurus, genuinely feeling that it was excessive, tried to tone down their own worship but due to the pressure of their fellow gurus had to give up their reform.
So, it is rather Srila Sridhara Maharaja's accurate no-nonsense sastric advice that the GBC objected to, which they felt was a threat to their unbridled and un-inhibited free reign of the Iskcon kingdom, that which was at the root of the dissatisfaction of the majority of the guru's godbrothers.
Accusation 2: Sakhya-Rasa Guru
"Sridhara Maharaja theorizes in his talks that Srila Prabhupada was in sakhya-rasa, whereas he himself feels to be more in the mood of madhurya-rasa. The insinuations whereby Sridhara Maharaja is made to appear as a higher Vaisnava make a disciple in Iskcon think that he has to go beyond Srila Prabhupada and Iskcon.
Such misconceptions have no basis in fact. Although Srila Sridhara Maharaja had remarked in passing (4 January 1982) that Srila Prabhupada had installed Sri Sri Krsna-Balarama and Sri Sri Gaura-Nitai in some of his temples, a practice generally not so widely conducted in the sampradaya previously–that this merely indicated some element of sakhya-rasa.
"Where Radharani is, Baladeva cannot stay there by the side of Krsna because there will be clash in the service or rasa. There is a clash in vatsalya, sakhya and madhurya-rasas. And Prabhupada [Bhaktisiddhanta] closely followed this line, that Mahaprabhu can stay, both Radha and Krsna combined, nothing else. So I heard that he had installed Radha Govinda and there some sakhis also by their side. But where Krsna Baladeva and Gaura-Nityananda also–not Radharani."
Srila Sridhara Maharaja mentioned this in regards to the empowerment of Srila Prabhupada as a Saktyavesa Avatara in Prabhupada’s preaching campaign—that it had been successful by the grace of Nityananda Prabhu and Baladeva.
"So to show his real gratitude to Baladeva, Nityananda, he installed them special. Gaura Hari Bol. That I can see, to harmonize his ways and our guru maharaja, from whom he got his spiritual beginning."
In February of 1982 Srila Sridhara Maharaja spoke further:
Let them capture the whole of the world. But at the same time they should not banish the very Deity of their worship. That is one and the same. Swami Maharaja has clearly written that his guru is Radharani. It is there: "Krsna, Radharani will be pleased if you help me in this campaign." Is it not written there? "Radharani khusi habe e-punya koribe jabe." [Prayer to the Lotus Feet of Krsna]So, he has admitted that his guru is Radharani. So, we aspire after the service of Radharani, under the direction of Sri Rupa and others, not committing any wrong, and we are seen as. "Give a dog a bad name and shoot him." Nitai Gaura Hari Bol. (Laughing) Let Mahaprabhu bless them that they may not shoot their desired end of life. Trying to shoot me, [we hope that] they may not shoot the very end for which they are aspiring after. Hare Krsna.
Bhakti Caru Swami: Yes, we are also afraid of that Maharaja . . .
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: I feel that I am not their enemy. I am their friend. I am their friend. But not a flatterer. I am a friend, but not a flatterer.
Aksayananda Swami: That is a real friend.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja never claimed, as accused, that Srila Prabhupada was wholly and solely immersed in, or dedicated to sakhya-rasa. Such an unfounded claim is a complete fabrication. In fact, Srila Prabhupada in chapter 34 of the Nectar of Devotion warns us not to try and judge the internal position of elevated pure devotees:
No one, while remaining on the material platform, should discuss these different descriptions of bhava and anubhava. One should simply try to understand that, on the spiritual platform there are many varieties of reciprocal love. Such loving exchanges should never be considered to be material. In the Mahabharata Udyama-parva it is warned that things which are inconceivable should not be subjected to arguments. Actually the transactions of the spiritual world are inconceivable to us in our present state of life."
Accusation 3: Godbrothers Asara
"Srila Prabhupada thinks, and therefore all his disciples and grand-disciples should also all think that all of his godbrothers are useless (asara), because of his remarks in his books and letter of 1974 to Rupanuga Dasa (e.g. ‘None of my godbrothers are fit to be acarya, etc.’)
Regarding Srila Prabhupada’s statement in the 1974 Rupanuga letter,
"Actually, amongst my Godbrothers no one is qualified to be acarya,"
It may be noted that he had written a few lines before,
"If guru maharaja could have seen someone who was qualified at that time to be acarya, he would have mentioned. Because in the night before he passed away he talked of so many things, but he never mentioned an acarya."
By this statement, Srila Prabhupada infers that even he, himself, was not apparently ‘fit’ to be acarya at that time, in the eyes of his guru maharaja. Or, more properly, the divine ordinance had not yet manifested for his acaryaship which was to shake the world. Still we, his disciples, know him as the nitya-siddha or eternally perfect pure devotee of the Lord. If later, some of his disciples become acarya, we cannot similarly delve unceremoniously into their ‘past’ to say ‘when’ they became fit. Srila Prabhupada’s statement about his godbrothers being unfit to be acarya does not exclude the possibility of daivera karana, or the will or divine ordinance of God, by which they are later recognized as acarya, especially when Srila Prabhupada himself practically considers himself as being ‘unfit’ at the time of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta. Additionally, we have adequately documented the extremely high regard of Srila Prabhupada for Srila Sridhara Maharaja throughout, leaving little room for doubt as to the veracity of this fact. Most of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples are well aware of Prabhupada’s expressions of his godbrothers’ shortcomings in general, yet there are also many statements by Srila Prabhupada which seem to neutralize these negative statements, especially in regards to Srila Sridhara Maharaja. If Prabhupada’s negative statements are to refer to all his godbrothers indiscriminately, then what about Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Maharaja, Srila Prabhupada’s sannyasa guru, whom Srila Prabhupada also is on record as having much affection for, or Niskincana Krsna dasa Babaji Maharaja, who is the only other godbrother besides Srila Sridhara Maharaja to sit on the vyasasana with Srila Prabhupada? Clearly then, we cannot make such sweeping generalizations.
So unwillingly I accepted. And then I remembered that he wanted me to go to the Western country. So I am feeling now very much obliged to my, this Godbrother [Kesava Maharaja], that he carried out the wish of my spiritual master and enforced me to accept this sannyasa order . . . So he did this favor upon me because he was an ocean of mercy. (681021DK.SEA)
"The disciples of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami are all godbrothers, and although there are some differences of opinion, and although we are not acting conjointly, every one of us is spreading this Krsna consciousness movement according to his capacity and producing many disciples to spread it all over the world." (Bhag. 4.28.31)
"Even amongst our godbrothers we have misunderstanding, but none of us is astray from the service of Krsna. My guru maharaja ordered us to execute his mission combinedly. Unfortunately we are now separated. But none of us have stopped preaching Krsna consciousness. Even there was misunderstanding amongst the godbrothers of my guru maharaja none of them deviated from the transcendental loving service of Krsna. The idea is that provocation and misunderstanding may remain between one man and another. But our staunch faith in Krsna consciousness may not allow any material disruption. Please therefore try to be sympathetic with any person, even if they differ. The only qualification we have to scrutinize is if one is acting in Krsna consciousness as far as one is able to do it." (Ltr November 18, 1967 ~ Brahmananda)
Just prior to his departure in 1977, Srila Prabhupada asked Narayana Maharaja and Krsna Dasa Babaji to request his godbrothers to forgive him if he had committed any offenses against them while preaching. This is an example of Srila Prabhupada’s perfect behavior in conformity with the scriptures, as a perfect spiritual master (acarya) instructing his disciples in the proper code of conduct in relation to the spiritual master’s godbrothers. One must also very carefully consider that although Srila Prabhupada may have sometimes spoken roughly about his godbrothers he strongly rebuked his disciples whenever they followed suite. This is of course the sastric advice that
"one should respect one’s spiritual master’s godbrothers as one respects one’s spiritual master." (Cc. Adi-lila 5.147, purport)
This was strictly followed by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu in regards to Advaita Acarya (Cc. Adi-lila 6.40) and even the most offensive Ramacandra Puri. (Cc. Antya-lila 8.46) Srila Prabhupada told us in 1977 that "the war is over" and he formed the Bhaktivedanta Swami Charity Trust to
"bring unity amongst the Gaudiya Vaisnavas, especially the followers of His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura."
Accusation 4: Authority Rejected
"Sridhara Maharaja’s followers are minimizing Srila Prabhupada by rejecting their natural authorities in the Iskcon family, thereby avoiding their responsibilities in Iskcon and creating an overestimation of Sridhara Maharaja as equal or superior to Srila Prabhupada. They say that he should become the new world acarya for Iskcon."
This is a misconception based on the erroneous assumption that the followers of Srila Sridhara Maharaja were insincere and politically motivated rather than aspiring for genuine spiritual guidance when they approached him. The followers of Srila Sridhara Maharaja never claimed that he was superior to Srila Prabhupada, although they do claim, as stated in Srila Prabhupada’s books, that the diksa and siksa gurus should be known as equal, otherwise offense is committed (Cc. Adi-lila 1.48, purport) Furthermore, it was never claimed that Srila Sridhara Maharaja should become the new world acarya for Iskcon. This statement in the paper "Purity is the Force" is a complete fabrication. Most of those who were hearing regularly from Srila Sridhara Maharaja were ready to continue working under the Iskcon authorities, as directed by Srila Prabhupada and as directed by Srila Sridhara Maharaja, but could not do so because they were rejected by the GBC. That is, to continue their service they would have to completely reject everything even remotely related to Srila Sridhara Maharaja. To hastily reject Srila Sridhara Maharaja is an underestimation of his natural authority in the family of the entire tree of the Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya Vaisnava Sampradaya, of which Iskcon is a branch. Srila Prabhupada warns us of this in his Bhaktivedanta purports, that we must give
. . . equal respect to all the preachers of the cult of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who are compared to the branches of the tree. Iskcon is one of these branches." (Caitanya-caritamrta Adi-lila 10.7, purport)
Although one may be well versed in the transcendental science, one should be careful about the offense of maryada-vyatikrama, or impertinently surpassing a greater personality. According to scriptural injunction one should be very careful of transgressing the law of maryada-vyatikrama because by so doing one loses his duration of life, his opulence, fame and piety and the blessings of all the world. To be well versed in the transcendental science necessitates awareness of the techniques of spiritual science . . . The rule is that in the presence of a higher personality one should not be very eager to impart instructions, even if one is competent and well versed . . . The Lord never tolerates the impertinence of maryada-vyatikrama. [Bhag. 3.4.26, purp.]
At the same time, Srila Sridhara Maharaja’s advices were never and can never be seen to be motivated in respect of becoming or imposing himself as a "new leader." Srila Sridhara Maharaja was well known for his disinterest in becoming involved with many devotees or becoming a big leader. Many quotes in this regard have been given throughout this presentation. Srila Sridhara Maharaja refused to become president of Iskcon, he refused to accept disciples for a long time and repeatedly stated that he wished to have only his spiritual thinking and not move with many devotees. He instructed the devotees who had already left Iskcon to form their own society separate from his, regulate themselves separately and come from time to time to him for spiritual advice.
"Srila Prabhupada’s godbrothers minimize him by calling him "Swami Maharaja."
Throughout this presentation we have amply documented the repeated exalted glorification of Srila Prabhupada by Srila Sridhara Maharaja. We have more than amply documented that Srila Sridhara Maharaja was not in the least envious of Srila Prabhupada and that he always spoke most respectfully of Srila Prabhupada. And Srila Prabhupada’s sannyasa name is "A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja," or simply "Swami Maharaja" for short. And this is the standard kept throughout the Gaudiya sampradaya. It is a natural and affectionate address of one godbrother to another. We, his loving disciples, have out of affection added the "Prabhupada." It is absurd to demand that Srila Prabhupada’s godbrothers call him "Prabhupada." Yes, some objected to our use of the name Prabhupada, but it was Srila Sridhara Maharaja himself who preached to them and made them favorable. (see chapter four) If one of our godbrothers becomes a self effulgent acarya and significantly spreads Krsna consciousness, his disciples may similarly want to call him "Prabhupada." And certainly we will all object vehemently–that his position is insignificant in comparison with our Srila Prabhupada. But we must ask ourselves if it is fair to think that Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada is seen as any lesser in the eyes of his disciples than Srila Bhaktivedanta Prabhupada in ours.
And Srila Sridhara Maharaja when conversing with Iskcon devotees, often referred to "your Prabhupada" and "my Prabhupada" (Srila Bhaktisiddhanta), and then always in a mood of great admiration and affection.
Accusation 6: GBC Criticism
"Sridhara Maharaja’s constant criticism of the GBC minimizes the devotees’ faith in the GBC and consequently in Srila Prabhupada, who ordered everyone to follow the GBC."
Iskcon stalwarts complained for years about the GBC and were continuously frustrated in their attempts for reform. Many who approached Srila Sridhara Maharaja for advice in this regard were surprised to hear him many times support the GBC position and encourage these devotees to try and cooperate with the GBC. And when Srila Sridhara Maharaja pointed out the deficiencies in the GBC he did so with no motive other than concern for the many disheartened senior devotees who were going away to the unknown quarter in genuine disappointment with the progress of the movement after Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance. Relevant excerpts from various transcripts quoted throughout this book consistently show a very concerned, cautious sastric approach from the very beginning by Srila Sridhara Maharaja. In Iskcon itself, senior stalwart devotees complained repeatedly about the undesirable situation within Iskcon and in 1985 the North American Temple Presidents instigated an investigation into these apparently unauthorized activities of Iskcon’s leaders, which they felt were contrary to Srila Prabhupada’s desires and plans for Iskcon. This has been discussed in detail in Ravindra Svarupa’s 1985 paper, "Under My Order," Reflections on the Guru in Iskcon, portions of which we presented earlier in this chapter. A careful reading of the section entitled "Is Srila Sridhara Maharaja’s Mood different than Srila Prabhupada’s?" in chapter five will leave little doubt in the readers mind that there were indeed at that time (early to mid 80’s) grave and malignant problems within the Iskcon management system–problems which deeply troubled the devotees.
The deplorable condition is that although Srila Prabhupada had initiated more than 3,000 disciples, after his disappearance in 1977, only a few hundred remained in the formal movement by the mid 1980’s. Although Srila Prabhupada emphasized that it was the leaders duty to maintain the enthusiasm of the devotees such that they did not leave Krsna consciousness, we present throughout many statements of respectable godbrothers showing that the leaders style of management was overbearing and served to have the opposite effect, that of discouraging the vast majority of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples:
. . . so in the future we can form a Central Governing Body for the whole institution. Therefore the management should be done very cautiously so that everyone is satisfied in their autonomous managing capacity . . . You should always deal things so tactfully that people may not fall away. Every being is important in Krsna conscious service, and we must take all precautions that one may not fall away.(SP Ltr TKG: October 18, 1969)
There must be always individual striving and work and responsibility, competitive spirit, not that one shall dominate and distribute benefits to the others and they do nothing but beg from you and you provide. No . . . I am little observing now, especially in your country, that our men are losing their enthusiasm for spreading on our programs of Krsna Consciousness movement . . . The whole problem is that they are not following the regulative principles, that I can detect. Without this, enthusiasm will be lacking . . . I do not think that the leaders are themselves following, nor they are seeing the others are following strictly . . . Our leaders shall be careful not to kill the spirit of enthusiastic service, which is individual and spontaneous and voluntary. They should try always to generate some atmosphere of fresh challenge to the devotees, so that they will agree enthusiastically to rise and meet it . . . Forget all this centralizing and bureaucracy. (SP Ltr Karandhara Dec. 22, 1972)
The first business should be to preach to the devotees. It is better to maintain a devotee than to try to convince others to become devotees. It is the duty of the GBC to maintain the devotees, keep them in the highest standard of Krishna Consciousness . (SP Ltr Satsvarupa: 16 June, 1972)
Amongst ourselves there must be very liberal and friendly dealings. This is not an ordinary thing that if somebody has got some fault he should be cut. He should be reformed by amicable dealings. We are training our men since a long time. It is very difficult to get trained up assistants. (SP Ltr Bali-mardana: Sept. 5, 1974)
In this respect, a vivid example of sincere concern for the many problems within Iskcon by a senior disciple of Srila Prabhupada is seen in a letter addressed to the Governing Body in 1982, by His Holiness Jayadvaita Swami, at that time former editor of "Back to Godhead" Magazine and chief editor of practically all of Srila Prabhupada’s books, as follows:
"One of our sannyasi godbrothers has committed suicide, Srila Prabhupada’s seniormost daughter has become bitter to the point of frenzy, the man Srila Prabhupada appointed to complete the Srimad Bhagavatam has left us in frustration and disappointment, an enthusiastic preacher has become discouraged and ensnared by lust and ambition, a main builder of our Vrndavana temple is living like a hermit, several staunch brahmacaris have sought shelter in marriage and a depressingly large number of our godbrothers and sisters have quietly or not quietly left Srila Prabhupada’s society. Now some devotees are turning in desperation to Sridhara Maharaja. And others are holding on in Iskcon, deeply dissatisfied but nurturing a hope that things will change . . . Somehow or other, large numbers of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples feel strongly disturbed, discouraged, bitter, offended, confused, angry, or unhappy because of their relationship with their godbrothers who have ‘accepted the mantle’ as initiating gurus."
Mistreatment of one sannyasi godbrother by his zonal authority was so blatant that it elicited strong responses from several respected senior Vaisnavas:
21 January, 1985
Dear XX1 Swami,
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to our eternal master, guide and well-wisher, Srila Prabhupada.
I am usually not one to enter political frays, waving banners and storming barricades, but I am so shocked and sickened by your recent blood-cry against XX2 Swami’s, sent in the form of a letter and "report" to Iskcon leaders, that I feel compelled to articulate my personal reaction . . . You've come to warn us all–decent citizens of the kingdom–of the doom to come, of traitors in our midst, of "conspirators," ''blasphemers,'' "poisoners," "murderers," "honey-tongued snakes," and "demons." We are informed that the Devil has now incarnated as His Holiness XX2 Swami, and that he is to be shunned and disgraced. We must not, you warn, talk with him nor hear what he says, nor let him darken our doorways, for even the best of us may fall under his magic spell, bedeviled by his sweet and confounding lies.
In my fifteen years in Iskcon, I've never heard such dangerous nonsense. Devotees throughout the world who know Bhakti Dayal Swami have the utmost respect for him and will not be stampeded into unthinking condemnation of him, as you seem to insist. I am no controversy monger, and might not even have had a great curiosity to hear from XX2 if not for your hysterical anathemas ("The lady doth protest too much!").
Myself and others recently met your "devil" and spoke with him at considerable length and found him to be not at all worthy of your fervid denunciations. One need not be a highly gifted discerner of spirits to see that Bhakti Dayal Swami is a sincere and benign Vaisnava of high moral character, a devoted disciple of Srila Prabhupada, a loyal supporter of Iskcon and its institutions, and one of our most expert and successful preachers. He is no "international political revolutionary" or sinister conspirator as you claim. Rather, he is a self-effacing, disarmingly humble devotee who, even in the face of the absurd torment you all are subjecting) him to, seems disinclined personally to seek a vendetta.
I have read your version of the events and heard Bhakti Dayal Swami's. Employing my very best instincts for discerning sincerity and honesty, I have to say that I find myself more inclined to believe him than yourself. There is such a tone of frivolous and malicious exaggeration (and who knows how much sheer inventiveness) in your report that you yourself cast serious doubt on your whole case.
This man's only crime seems to be his willingness, after much suffering and silence, to seek rectification for what he sincerely views (I think quite reasonably) as fundamental violations of sacred principles of Krsna consciousness and of human decency.
Whatver the facts of the case, it is clear that you are subjecting Bhakti Dayal Swami to a horrendous campaign of persecution and defamation which is almost impossible to conceive occuring within a society of devotees. He and XX3 Prabhu present what appear to be fairly compelling documented evidence of considerable wrongdoing on the part of the leadership in your zone (including some rather irregular behavior on the part of Harikesa Swami).
To the extent that the movement, especially its leadership, sells its principles short, to the extent that decisions are made on a passionate, expedient, self-serving basis, to the extent that devotees are dealt with inhumanely, to the extent that power and control are exercised through threat, deceit, intimidation, witch-hunts and Gestapo tactics–to that extent it is difficult to represent Iskcon with a clear conscience and with enthusiasm. I cannot be a glorified P.R. cover-up man. Whatever I speak or write about the movement is taken seriously in academic circles only to the extent that I am perceived not as an apologist, but as an objective and honest interpreter of it. Please do not make my task an impossible one . . .
in the service of Srila Prabhupada,
Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu wrote similarly, condemning the treatment of this sannyasi preacher by his GBC authority:
It is with great regret that I have read your 1/4/85 letter (and the accompanying report) to "all authorities in ISKCON" regarding Bhakti Dayal Swami, and I want to register my strongest objections to your procedure for dealing with this issue. You should realize how much you have damaged yourselves by your own actions.
I am not, of course, in a position to adjudicate the disputes that have erupted in your zone. That is a matter for the GBC. Yet you have advanced an aggressive and widespread propaganda campaign in [geographical area] against Bhakti Dayal Swami and XX3 Prabhu thus making the issue a public one. In Vienna alone, XX Prabhu was subjected to two lengthy telephone harangues by XX3 Swami with a follow-up from XX1 Swami. And now this letter and report. In forcing this issue into the public arena, you have proceeded with such passionate unrestrained vehemence and produced such an awesome display of overkill, that many of us became very inquisitive to hear the other side. I went out of my way to do so, and I am at least quite satisfied that there are two sides to this case.
In your letter and report you prosecute, judge, and sentence Bhakti Daya Swami before all Iskcon and at the same time try to frighten and bully us into not hearing him. Any honest devotee will respond to this cheating by wanting to hear Bhakti Dayal’s side of the case . . .
All intelligent devotees will recognize the perverted logic by which you try to establish your assertion that Bhakti Dayal Swami is part of a demonic plot against Iskcon. The obvious evidence of his loyality–that he has not left ISKCON like others but is keeping the association of Iskcon devotees–is, you say, only proof of how devious his plot is. I suppose the fact that he is putting his case to the GBC through due process and submitting himself to its authority only show how even more insidiously devious he is! In other words, your assertion that he is part of a demonic plot is wholly metaphysical, for no possible experience could disprove it. The only thing you would accept as proof of his innocence is his confession of guilt. Interestingly enough, this is the same tack taken by the Puritan divines in the Salem witchcraft trials, by Sen. Joseph McCarthy in his communist witch-hunt, and by Joseph Stalin in the Moscow purge trials. However, none of these people should be accepted as models for Vaisnava behavior.
Finally, you proclaim that anyone who "supports" Bhakti Dayal Swami is "falling under the spell of psychological intimidation." Since the letter we have just read is a masterpiece of psychological intimidation, we are lead to wonder whether this whole demon-hunt in Eastern Europe is an egregious instance of the unfortunate practice of scapegoating, i.e., projecting one’s own sins onto others and then "purifying" one’s self by destroying the others . . . It is especially unfortunate that a devotee of Srila XX5 Swami’s stature [GBC Guru] has signed his name to this letter and endorsed the enclosed report. One can only hope that he has been the victim of very bad advice.
I pray that this finds you well.
servant in the service
Ravindra Svarupa dasa
Needless to say, this sannyasi was dealt with very harshly by the GBC and forced out of the Iskcon movement. An excerpt from his recounting of incidents follows:
6th January 1985
Respected Privilege Commitee
Dear GBC Godbrothers!
Please accept my humble obeisances at your feet, all glories to Srila 'Prabhupada.
As you are probably all aware already, during the last month we (myself and about 30 other devotees, mostly disciples of Harikesa Swami) have been thrown out of his zone, our temple has been raided by his men, practically all of our things have been confiscated while the devotees have been threatened several times both physically and spiritually. As another criminal act, they broke into our boutique and preaching center (which is owned by one of us privately) stole all the items for sale etc. All this has happened in my absence as a suprise attack and only after this did I hear from others in other zones that I am accused with being a leading figure in a world conspiracy that is meant to destroy the whole Iskcon society and that I destroyed the faith in the disciples of Harikesa Swami etc. These accusations were unheard before. Since this tragic happening I tried to contact Srila Harikesa Swami several times but everyone refuses to talk with me or with the rest of us. I wrote two letters to Harikesa Swami but no reply came. Up til the present day I have not heard from them anything so I do not-know why we were and are treated like this. As at this point I do not have any other choice, I would like to turn to the Privilege Commitee for help. The situation right now is very tense. A big campaign is launched against us with the aim of forbidding us to enter any other Iskcon temple or that we present our case to other devotees. Around 30 devotees have been forced by the violent actions of Harikesa Swami and his men to seriously doubt his spiritual leadership.
The story of the raid: On Christmas day I called our boutique and preaching center. Somebody picked up the phone but did not reply. From the back the-sounds of smashing things and tearing things down came. I thought it must-be the wrong number. I called again.The 5th time finally somebody answered, but didn’t speak. Finally, XX1-Swami replied: "This is XX1 Swami. "We broke into your place, got all of your documents and finished off your empire. This is a war and you will be killed." I was so perplexed that the only thing I could utter was "thank you" and I hung up. The worst is that some senior devotees heard the phone conversation and immediatly their faith in the leaders of our zone was greatly shaken. They told me they cannot accept such an unjust and criminal-act. I tried to calm them down and told them that the only thing they should do in this regard is to pray to Krsna so that everything will be corrected. But they should not give up the guru (that’s what they wanted to do upon hearing what has happened). They said that only because of our faith in your words that we accepted Harikesa Swami as our guru. If he rejects you and acts so strange then we will follow you instead . . . I went to the apartment of a householder couple (disciples of Harikesa Swami) and there I found all the devotees of our temple. Some were crying, some were devastated and hopeless while others just stared at the walls. They have been all greatly shaken by the (for them unexplainable) behavior of Harikesa Swami especially that he forced them to accept something which is not the truth and when he saw that they hesitated, he immediately kicked them out into the street . . .
They never told me why they did this against me.There are of course some accusations but let me point out that they were never heard before, noone told me anything and all this came up only after this chain of violant actions . . .
This devotee was ultimately forced against his desires to continue his service outside of Iskcon. More recently Somaka Maharaja wrote in his 1994 paper, In Search of Harmony, of other less than ideal managerial policies:
Is the GBC going to recognize that in the letter that Pradyumna Prabhu wrote to Satsvarupa Maharaja in 1978 he pointed out all the defects that in 1987 due to so many fall downs they had to admit? Are the GBC men going to approach Paramadwaiti Maharaja to recognize that all the defects that he was presenting in his letter of 1984 were forcibly accepted in 1987? Vaisnavas do not get stature by bureaucracy and diplomacy, Vaisnavas get stature based on humility, simplicity, meekness, detachment and so many other godly qualities.
. . . the reform of our movement has not begun yet. In 1987 due to the pressure exerted, some mistakes were admitted, but not publicly and things weren’t very widely presented, just some new GBCs were made, and some new gurus and that’s all. There was no real change of heart. For example in 1987 the zonal acarya thing was recognized to be a mistake. So actually there was no real reform, only a show bottle reform; get some of the dissatisfied and opposing men into the group and that’s all. Real reform will appear when a preacher that is working hard in a place to get the movement established and to make devotees and spread Krsna consciousness will be recognized as the GBC for that area, not that there are GBC with enormous zone that they can’t control and somebody else is doing all the hard work. Please do not take this as an offense, just try to see that our movement is becoming stagnant due to so much centralization and ‘power-trips.
Recently, a godbrother was telling me that he read in a newspaper that in a survey about religious movements it was reported that the "Hare Krsna Movement" was a more impersonal one. It is shocking that the movement with the most personal philosophy is considered to be actually more impersonal. But actually, in reality, I have personally experienced in the last 16 years that this is terribly true; the relations between ourselves are very impersonal, diplomatic, political and generally with no real love. There is no real feeling of family as at the time of Srila Prabhupada. For example, I remember that at the beginning when a young devotee would bloop I would go to look for him and try everything to get him back. Now, if even a stalwart devotee that has twenty or more years of service goes away, it is just a matter of conversation during breakfast.
Just a few days ago I was speaking to a godbrother explaining to him the situation of a devotee who is now very dissatisfied and lacking faith in the institution. This godbrother was telling me of the very wrong mode that the devotee in question has, and also that this devotee was not making sufficient effort to regain his strength. Although I may agree on many points, in the whole conversation he did not consider for one second what we could do to help him regain faith. The only consideration was what he should do to regain faith.
So, always the entire fault is on the dissatisfied, the dissatisfying party is always fully innocent and the dissatisfied fully guilty.
It is also to be lamented that, due to the intractable problems within Iskcon at the time, the revered writer of the first letter above, Jayadvaita Swami, had felt a necessity to resign from his responsible post as the senior editor of BTG, a post which he had faithfully held for at least ten years. So we can see that Srila Sridhara Maharaja’s comments are simply a sincere expression of his paternal concern for the majority of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples, who are non-GBC members. This paternal concern is due to Srila Sridhara Maharaja’s intimate relationship with Srila Prabhupada. In chapter one we have documented the extent of this intimate relationship as well as the fact that Srila Prabhupada requested Srila Sridhara Maharaja many times to look after his disciples. From the very first signs of dissension (Pradyumna 1978), we find Srila Sridhara Maharaja cautioning the dissenting party to "wait and see," remain tolerant and not do anything that would go against the decisions of the Governing Body:
Pradyumna: Generally, there is one practice in our temples, that every morning in front of Guru Maharaja’s vyasasana, the disciples conduct Gurupuja. They offer arati and some puspa and pranama. So, just next to Guru Maharaja’s seat, the new acarya is taking his seat, and at the same time as Guru Maharaja’s puja is going on, that puja for the new acarya is going on. So . . .
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: One thing you will remember, that to your gurudeva, you give the maximum respect, and his guru, how do you give above him, flower, fruit, our guru maharaja. So his guru maharaja is Bhaktivedanda. How do you praise your gurudeva and Prabhupada and Bhaktivedanta, his guru, Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Gaura Kisora. What difference do you find?
Pradyumna: We do not question the sisya to give respect to his guru. That is granted. But in front of everyone else, there is some public pressure and force that Godbrothers also should worship as the sisya worships. Because it is in the public place of worship, when Gurubhai comes, there is public pressure. Why don’t you worship, he is acarya?
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: You should respect that my Godbrother, meaning that they would worship and that also may be formal.
Pradyumna: There is some pressure in that way.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: We are meeting only you, you are non acarya. I want to meet the acarya class also. At the same time I told Svarupa Damodara, the leaders of both the parties may come to me and I shall try to help. As much as I can help you, I shall do my best. Both the parties should be there. Before the big meeting, they must come in a private meeting to me, and there should be some adjustment, then you have the big meeting, otherwise there will be a clash. I have said like that to Svarupa Damodara and others. We must have a private meeting here. And we shall try to help you all to minimize the differences. And having harmony here amongst the leaders, then you will attend the big meeting on Gaura Purnima. It is a disturbing thing. Before that we must have agreement. To save the glory, the good name of your guru and your mission, you must come to an understanding and it must be sincere understanding, good understanding. Then you will go in the sabha. Before that we must compose ourselves . . .
You see, we want two parties to have a say. Then it will be easier for me; that will be good. What are their feelings, what are their demands. They will also say that they don’t like this thing, this sort of facility. How can we go on with our service that has been entrusted to us? They are creating hindrances in our way . . .
There are also differences amongst them also. But still we must go on with some differences and we shall try to minimize the differences. Looking at the feet of the great gurudeva will remove any stress of differences. Still we can go out, but we should not leave them. Our guru maharaja asked us, "How will you be able to perform sankirtana? Kirtana means mixing in the company of those of different adhikari. And with the spirit of harmony you have to go on. So don’t think others are superior to you, or all of you are of the same category, same mentality. You can’t expect that. There will be some differences and difficulties. Still you must go on, looking up. You are given the benefit of going to Him according to status. So, accordingly you must receive others also with sympathy. What is the difference between yourself and the supreme? In that way, the difference between yourself and the other people is very less, very insignificant. I want to have the admiration, the love, the affection of the Supreme Being. And in the case that there is a little difference between yourself and him, you cannot tolerate him, then how can you expect the Absolute to tolerate yourself? Better if the differences can be harmonized . . .
Next day you may be an acarya. What are the facilities the acarya should get minimum? When you and I will be placed in his position, you will feel that necessity is the mother of invention. Then you will see how these things are, this minimum demand, to maintain the position of the acarya. So, the acarya they should also be represented. And before you all what I shall have to speak I shall speak then. They may also complain here. Then I will recommend some sort of adjustment which will help you all and mostly the followers of the mission. All over the world. It is so important, the movement, all over the world, it will be a most valuable thing for us. We could not even think or dream that this type of preaching we shall see in our lifetime, prthivite ache yata nagaradi grama . . .
Pradyumna: One question is, whether the instructions of the new guru-godbrother or acarya, are their instructions considered absolute for the godbrother?
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: The sastra is there, the guru’s statements are there, sadhu, sastra guru vakya sistaka koriya aikya. These three things, the guru vakya, the Vaisnava vakya and the sastra, with the help of these three we have to come to a solution, try to come to a solution. sadhu sastra guru vakya cittete koriya aikya, ar na koriho mane asa . . .
I don’t think that this is mine, this is my guru’s. It comes from gurudeva and you are all his vaibhava. This is also service, service for the whole, the mission. It is a favor to me, given by my gurudeva . . . Try to acquire the position of a Vaisnava. Vaisnava dasa. So, we create this varnasrama, this sannyasa. The fourth order is sannyasi. The sannyasis are servants of the Vaisnavas. They take the lower position, sannyasi preachers, and they should preach to greatness, the nobleness of the paramahamsa Vaisnavas. And what is the object of our preaching? We have to fight with the Mayavadis. Mayavada is the mother of all pseudo conceptions of religion. Mayavada is the foundation and the basis, the mother polluting all this line of thought. And Ramanuja, Madhvacarya, Nimbarka are one in the fight against Mayavada. We also must combine together as Maharaja Yudhisthira had the Pandavas join with Duryodhana to fight Citraratha and the Gandharvas . . . So, for common enemies, Ramanuja and others united. We are common in fighting with Mayavada. And then we may fight one another to adjust our position as Gaudiya Vaisnava. Mahaprabhu gave acintya-bhedabheda. This one is advaitavada, another suddhadvaitavada and we differ here. And then for differences we shall fight with one another. But in Mayavada we are one to fight. We are weeping, we cannot allow it . . .
This is the wonderful characteristic of Krsna bhakti, that externally there is so much burning sensation, but within we are breathing in nectar, taking bath in a tank of nectar. It is the quality that it is so good, that when we get a little we think, "I want more, give me more, give me more." So this is very fortunate, union in separation. Without hunger, any quality of food won’t taste good. So, real hunger, that I may get real hunger for the infinite. The infinite is coming in the finite. That sort of hunger should be created there that he can accommodate the infinite in him, being a finite being. The hankering is creating a vision, the will to go there. As much as you can get His touch, the slightest touch you can relish it so much. In the discourse of Ramananda Raya and Mahaprabhu there is so much hunger. As much hunger as there is, so much is the satisfaction by preaching. So, the hunger, the degree of hunger is the cause, necessary cause. So, fill the heart with satisfaction, happiness, anandam. The negative and the positive. The negative in that stage is present is Sri Radhika. To attract Krsna, rasa, the devourer, first place devourer. The highest devourer of that rasa, Radharani. And all is joining the rasa of Krsna . . .
Pradyumna: A question is, that usually in any organization, like maybe this Matha, Gaudiya Sanga, or Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti, whoever is acarya, he is like a pope, he is all-powerful. His word, he is the ultimate spiritual authority.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: Not all-powerful. Madhava Maharaja is also under governing body. This [inaudible] Maharaja is also under governing body. This Audolomi is also under governing body. When the founder acarya expired, then the governing body was formed, and really the governing body is ruling the mission. But when there are many acaryas under one governing body, there will be some trouble raised there . . .
If you can construct different zones with one acarya, then their position will be like that. But you have one governing body to govern different zones, and this position of acarya is minor. There are many. Now the difference between the governing body and the acarya is there, but in near future there will be differences between the acaryas.
Pradyumna: Yes, I think that also. That is why I am not satisfied, there is some difference between us and them, also in the future between them, I think.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: Gradually the acarya will quarrel with one another . . . I was thinking, that just as in India, there should be three phases of government. One, the Vaisnava sabha, another the eligibility government and another the court of justice.
Pradyumna: In America also they have this–the executive, the judicial and the legislative.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: They are independent.
Always respecting the GBC as the "ultimate managing authority for the entire International Society for Krsna Consciousness," Srila Sridhara Maharaja, as a third party, has most often expertly pleaded the position of the GBC, much to the surprise of the challenging party. Regrettably by the ‘80’s the majority of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples were already losing faith in the GBC. Srila Sridhara Maharaja’s advice was intended to rectify this situation. After repeatedly ignoring all advice and godbrother complaints for years on end, the GBC stated in their 1981 resolutions that
"we agree in principle that we must extend the number of gurus but do not feel the inspiration at this time."
Srila Sridhara Maharaja clearly understood that this was an improper decision and said so without hesitation.
"Let us hope that their decision may help Iskcon, by the will of Krsna it may not bring any disaster to the organization. Let us hope and pray.
Last time also I asked them what they wanted me to do–should I give ditto to whatever they will do. Then I asked them, "do you think that I am under your committee." "No, no, that we don’t think." Then the day before yesterday, again the same thing. "We had a meeting and in our meeting we accepted the principle that the number of acaryas may be increased. But we did not receive any inspiration this year for extension. But this was not told to you, so we have been told that you remarked that our decision is injudicious and unfortunate." Yes, I did remark in such a way because I want to clear my position to you now that, I am not wholly one with Iskcon and even not wholly one with Swami Maharaja. I have got my special consideration and inclination and thinking. With other godbrothers also I differ in many ways. So everyone has his special characteristic and I also have such. So, what you think to be srota-pantha, your meeting unanimous verdict, what you think the right thing coming down, I am not bound to pronounce the same thing–that it is infallible. The meaning is like that. According to my consideration your combined decision was a faulty one, but I did not say so clearly.
Nor can one be expected to blindly agree with the wisdom of the 1982 decisions. This does not necessarily imply a loss of faith in Srila Prabhupada or his orders, nor even a loss of faith in the Governing Body. It merely echoes what was felt by so many devotees for so many years –that the GBC had serious problems that needed to be dealt with. To not agree with the resolutions–1981 non-extension and 1982 severance of Srila Sridhara Maharaja and those taking his siksa, which in retrospect were indeed disastrous, does not mean that one is anti-GBC or anti-Iskcon. Rather it pains the heart of any genuine follower of Srila Prabhupada to see such calamitous activities in his society. And we must not forget that Srila Prabhupada himself rejected many many GBC resolutions when he felt that they were not up to the standard. He even rejected the entire GBC itself on two occasions, as documented earlier in this chapter.
Accusation 7: Against Prabhupada
"Although Sridhara Maharaja’s followers claim that Srila Prabhupada is speaking through him, Sridhara Maharaja is actually speaking against Srila Prabhupada."
In a conversation between Srila Sridhara Maharaja and an Iskcon GBC guru concerning the relationship of the new Iskcon gurus and their godbrothers, on March 5, 1981, the Iskcon guru remarked at the end of their conversation,
"I take it that Prabhupada is speaking to us through you."
Additionally, Tamala Krsna Maharaja stated on February 26, 1981:
I find no difference at all [from Srila Prabhupada] in how you are blessing us.
Numerous other statements by Iskcon’s stalwarts have been presented throughout this presentation. So it is the Iskcon leaders themselves who are making such statements. Earlier in this chapter under the section entitled Madhurya Rasa we have presented Satsvarupa Maharaja’s taped appreciation of the expert guidance of Srila Sridhara Maharaja in troubled times. This tape was distributed at the time to all Iskcon temples in the Mid-Atlantic and New England zones in America.
We have also presented Giriraja Maharaja’s letter of 16th September 1978 wherein he states that Srila Prabhupada told us we should consult Srila Sridhara Maharaja and that other than himself Srila Sridhara Maharaja was the only one qualified to write Srimad Bhagavatam purports.
In chapter five, in the section entitled Our Swami Maharaja Has Done a Miracle, we have documented the many statements of Srila Sridhara Maharaja demonstrating beyond a shadow of a doubt his absolute respect and utmost appreciation of Srila Prabhupada.
In chapter four we have presented numerous examples of Srila Sridhara Maharaja’s preaching on behalf of Srila Prabhupada and Iskcon. Repeatedly we see Srila Sridhara Maharaja tirelessly giving expert advice in troubled times. A detailed study of this advice as we have presented throughout this book overwhelmingly shows Srila Sridhara Maharaja’s advice as consummately perfect and conducive to the well-being of Iskcon.
Additionally, the remark by Srila Sridhara Maharaja, "Swami Maharaja (Srila Prabhupada) and I are not one," should be seen in the light of sastra. For example,
"If one is following the instruction of his spiritual master and that instruction is different from the instructions of another spiritual master, this is called detailed information. But the basic principle of acceptance of a spiritual master is good everywhere, although the details may be different." (Nectar of Devotion, Ch. 6)
Similarly Srila Prabhupada writes in Caitanya-caritamrta Adi-lila 7.37:
"Every acarya has a specific means of propagating his spiritual movement with the aim of bringing men to Krsna consciousness. Therefore, the method of one acarya may be different from that of another, but the ultimate goal is never neglected."
Srila Prabhupada wrote to Upendra on 19 February 1972 that,
"there is no reason why acaryas cannot differ on certain points."
In other words, Srila Sridhara Maharaja or any bona-fide Vaisnava does not have to be a stereotyped carbon-copy of Srila Prabhupada in order to be eligible to uphold the dignity and purity of the Gaudiya Vaisnava Sampradaya. While details and individual devotional moods may vary, the substance of Srila Prabhupada’s instructions and those of Srila Sridhara Maharaja are very similar, as we have demonstrated in chapter five in the long section entitled Doubts. No one is saying that Srila Sridhara Maharaja replaces Srila Prabhupada, rather that his instructions embellish those of Srila Prabhupada and that the elucidation of many points of siddhanta by Srila Sridhara Maharaja has been a wonderful addition to so many devotees’ precarious spiritual lives. Innumerable devotees adamantly credit a revival of devotional fervor to the nectarean krsna-katha of Srila Sridhara Maharaja.
Accusation 8: Sridhara Maharaja Not Advanced
"Sridhara Maharaja is not more advanced than many senior Iskcon devotees. Firstly, in dedication to Srila Prabhupada and his order, Sridhara Maharaja is not more advanced than many devotees in Iskcon."
Since Srila Sridhara Maharaja is Srila Prabhupada’s senior godbrother, his param sannyasa guru, it is natural that Srila Prabhupada never expected him to follow any order of his. Nonetheless, we do find that Srila Sridhara Maharaja is dedicated to assisting Srila Prabhupada, as revealed by the following quote:
Swami Maharaja himself requested me, not only once but several times, that you are to look after them. I did not think at that time that I shall survive him, so I did not give much attention to his words then, but repeatedly he told me that you are to look after those that I have brought to this side (Krsna consciousness). This I heard. And his plan was also that ‘I shall live there in Mayapur, construct one quarter there and I have asked that another quarter just side by side for yourself, and you will have to stay there and I shall go abroad . . . you will have to take care.’ I told him it is not possible always, but sometimes I shall go there and stay there with you. (1977 Room Conversation)
Again, numerous quotes given throughout this publication substantiate Srila Sridhara Maharaja’s genuine concern and perfect sastric advice time and time again. Giriraja Maharaja’s quote from the Caitanya-Caritamrta in his 1978 letter to the GBC warns us of just the sort of mentality expressed in this accusation(see next section).
Accusation 9: Sridhara Maharaja Not Empowered
"Secondly, in the matter of spreading Krsna consciousness around the world, he is not more advanced than those empowered directly by Srila Prabhupada to do this and who are carrying it out factually."
We find this accusation offensive as it is not an appropriate comparison. Srila Prabhupada is on record as stating that he considers Srila Sridhara Maharaja as his siksa guru (Ltr Hrsikesa ~ 69-01-29) and that "what Sridhara Maharaja says, I take it on my head." (Ltr Govinda Mj ~ 69-01-29). Additionally, we find the only recorded instances of Srila Prabhupada being corrected by another Vaisnava in the June 27, 1973 room conversation between Srila Prabhupada and Srila Sridhara Maharaja in Navadvipa.
Prabhupada: Both sides [of Viraja] he’s a devotee [Lord Siva].
Sridhara Maharaja: This side, he’s not such a devotee. But that is pure devotee on the other side, Vaikuntha.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja is the param sannyasa guru of Srila Prabhupada and a senior godbrother of his. Srila Prabhupada said that Srila Sridhara Maharaja was the only one outside of himself qualified to translate the Srimad Bhagavatam and give commentary. In commenting upon statements such as the accusation above:
"Now we have surpassed Sridhara Swami and we are in a position where we can improve upon Sridhara Swami’s conception."
Giriraja Maharaja in his 16 September 1978 letter to the GBC stated:
"I am simply reminded of the words of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, ‘swami na mane yei jana vesyara bhitare, tare kariye ganana,’ that now we must remain faithful to our swami." [otherwise we will be prostitutes] (Cc. Antya-lila 7.115)
This reference by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to the Bhagavatam commentator Sridhara Swami has been aptly applied to B. R. Sridhara Swami by Giriraja Maharaja. This minimization of Srila Sridhara Maharaja amounts to maryada-vyatikrama:
"Although one may be well versed in the transcendental science, one should be careful about the offense of maryada-vyatikrama, or impertinently surpassing a greater personality . . . The rule is that in the presence of a higher personality one should not be very eager to impart instructions, even if one is competent and well versed . . . The Lord never tolerates the impertinence of maryada-vyatikrama. [Bhag. 3.4.26, purp.]
Srila Sridhara Maharaja had more than one thousand disciples at the time of his passing in comparison to Srila Prabhupada’s more than three thousand and his widespread preaching and substantial devotional accomplishments have been documented in chapters one and three. Srila Sridhara Maharaja’s penetrating devotional realizations presented in his Brahma Gayatri Commentary are unparalleled in the entire history of our sampradaya. That Srila Sridhara Maharaja was himself also capable of giving a unique contribution in no way diminishes the position of Srila Prabhupada. And just this type of comparison as given in this accusation is condemned as offensive by Srila Prabhupada himself,
"One should not be envious, considering one preacher to be very great and another to be very lowly. This is a material distinction and has no place on the platform of spiritual activities. Krsnadasa Kaviraja Goswami therefore offers equal respect to all the preachers of the cult of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who are compared to the branches of the tree. Iskcon is one of these branches." (Caitanya-caritamrta Adi-lila 10.7, purport)
Accusation 10: Iskcon the Best
"Thirdly, the community of Iskcon devotees is more advanced in carrying out the central desire of our founder-acarya, to keep our movement from being split. Sridhara Maharaja may consider it a good principle to divide and have small movements, but this was neither the desire of Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati or Srila Prabhupada."
On no less than three occasions Srila Sridhara Maharaja assisted Iskcon in averting the calamity of splitting, involving the difficulties faced by three initiating gurus. Finally, the GBC by their 1982 resolution, disconnected themselves from their previous cordial relationship with Srila Sridhara Maharaja. This disconnection was actually the cause of Iskcon’s splitting into two camps. Out of dire necessity, because of this resolution, those who remained loyal to Srila Sridhara Maharaja formed separate institutions. It should also be pointed out that, as previously described, Srila Sridhara Maharaja does not have a history of instigating factions, as was being propagated. In fact he was appreciated by all the various members of the Gaudiya Matha as a principle unifying force. Many quotes substantiating this are given in the first three chapters of this book. Srila Sridhara Maharaja was held in such high esteem by his godbrothers that when he left the Gaudiya Matha amidst its turmoil many many stalwarts such as Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Maharaja, Bhakti Saranga Goswami Maharaja and Madhava Maharaja, to name a few, followed him. Srila Sridhara Maharaja never quarreled over the disputed properties and buildings of the Gaudiya Matha, and in fact to avoid such quarreling he left.
We refer the reader to the numerous examples previously quoted in chapter four, relating Srila Sridhara Maharaja’s help both to Srila Prabhupada and Iskcon.
Our Affectionate Guardians: Chapter Six
Aparadha, The Vaisnavas Greatest Enemy: Introduction
In this chapter we trace the course of activities over the years from 1978, when the GBC first approached Srila Sridhara Maharaja with many important questions, up to the present. Excerpts are presented from relevant question and answer sessions of the GBC representatives with Srila Sridhara Maharaja, showing the lucidity and sastric appropriateness of Srila Sridhara Maharaja's advice. The GBC stalwarts openly and enthusiastically expressed their satisfaction at the time of receiving advices from Srila Sridhara Maharaja from 1978 to 1982 but over the years their feelings soured toward him. The supposed reasons for this, widely propogated by ISKCON leaders, were that Srila Sridhara Maharaja was trying to take control of ISKCON, trying to destroy ISKCON and that some of his advice was misleading and dangerous for ISKCON. In this section we present many samples of Srila Sridhara Maharaja's advice on important issues in an attempt to bring to light the fact that Srila Sridhara Maharaja was sastrically perfect and held the interests of Srila Prabhupada and ISKCON formost in his considerations. In actuality, the GBC's negative attitude toward Srila Sridhara Maharaja was primarily due to three reasons: He clearly pin-pointed their deficiencies, wrongdoings and shortcomings and advised proper courses of action, to which the GBC continuously turned a deaf ear. Many devotees, dissatisfied and discouraged by the ISKCON GBC's style of management, approached Srila Sridhara Maharaja for advice. His wonderful advice evoked a higher more mature perspective in these devotees which many times also included more tolerance and compassionate dealings in regards to the ISKCON leaders. His expert advice and comforting words which revived many a devotee's faltering faith, earned Srila Sridhara Maharaja a fast rising popularity which the GBC feared would diminish their position and control. Although ISKCON leaders man feel justified for their ongoing institutional vilification campaign to this very day against Srila Sridhara Maharaja, we find these activities vehemently condemned by all sastra--as leading to the most dire and disastrous consequences for those responsible.
We refer our readers to The Heart of Krsna, Vaisnava Aparadha and the Path of Spiritual Caution by Srila Bhakti Promode Puri Goswami Maharaja, for an in depth and substantial presentation of the ontology of vaisnava-aparadha. Therein it is irrrevocably established that vaisvava-aparadhis are forever bereft of achieving the ultimate goal of life--krsna-prema.
It is said that offenses committed at the lotus feet of the Vaisnava devotees of the Lord distance one from devotional service of the Supreme Lord. In the highest sense, then, this means to be removed from the service of Sri Radha-who is seen as the representative of all servitors, the very embodiment of pure concentrated exalted devotional service of the highest caliber. Since all divine service to Krsna is being conducted under Her direction, to offend Her servitors is to make one unfit for Her divine service-hence the name is given--apa-radha.
The Lord is overly protective of His devotees (bhakta-vatsala). He cannot tolerate any offenses against them. They have bhakti (devotion), and they can awaken it within us. Bhakti is the sole means to attract Krsna, Who is a slave of devotion. The same is true of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. In Chaitanya-bhagavata, Madhya-lila 22.8, Vrndavana dasa Thakur states ,
vaisnavera thani ya're haya aporadha
krsna-krpa hoileo tare prema-badha
"If a person commits an offense at the lotus feet of a Vaishnava, even though he may have received Krsna's mercy, he will never attain divine love, prema."
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura writes,
Even if one is a Vaishnava, if he commits offenses to the Holy Name, he becomes unfit to render pure devotion. Although it may appear that he is still being shown favor by the Lord as he continues to make a show of chanting without difficulty, the Lord is actually very displeased with him because of his antagonism toward devotees. Therefore, to give up nama-aparadha we must first give up sadhu-ninda or finding fault with devotees.
Regarding the phrase krsna krpa hoileo ("even though he may receive Krsna's mercy"), Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur comments: "People may think that because an offender appears to continue to chant without difficulty, the Lord must still favor him, but they are wrong. The Lord is not even slightly moved by their sham devotion." The author of Sri Chaitanya-bhagavata, Vrndavana dasa Thakur, says that these statements are not his alone; they are the verdict of the Vedas.
Further, the Chaitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila 19.156 states:
yadi vaisnava-aparadha uthe hati mata
upade va chinde, tara sukhi' yaya pata
"If a devotee commits vaisnava-aparadha, his offense is like a mad elephant uprooting and trampling his creeper of devotion; afterwards the creeper's leaves dry up and become lifeless."
Because Krsna's mercy descends only through the Vaishnavas-is embodied in the pure Vaisnava's heart, sadhavo hrdayau mahyam (Bhag. 9.4.68), those who offend the Vaisnava, what to speak of the pure Vaisnava, are forever bereft of the Lord's mery.
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, in one pastime freely distributed krsna-prema to all who approached, yet when asked to give this to His divine mother Sacidevi, He refused because of a minor offense in mother Sacidevi's mind to Adwaitacarya.
It is almost impossible to be released from the consequences of vaisnava-aparadha. Without feeling deep and substantial remorse, and without surrendering at the feet of the offended devotee, one can never be forgiven. Without such forgiveness, the goal of life is lost.
"The Lord refuses to accept any worship from those who slight his devotees. Although the characteristic of a pure devotee is that he excuses the offenses of the ignorant, Krsna however -- bhakta-ninda sahite na pare -- never tolerates an offense to the lotus feet of his devotee." (Chaitanya-caritamrta, Antya-lila 3.213) To even hear vaishnava-aparadha is damaging. The Srimad-bhagavatam 10.74.40 states that, "Any person who, on hearing blasphemy against the Supreme Lord or his devotee, does not leave that unholy place, is implicated in the offense and loses all sukrti (spiritual merit)." Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur writes further, that not only is the vaishnava-aparadhi's association to be strictly avoided, but also the association of the associates of vaishnava-aparadhis. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu Himself declares that, "He who criticizes and offends my devotees even once will be destroyed by chanting My holy name. Just because one is chanting is no guarantee of success. I destroy anyone who tries to hurt my devotees. Even if a sannyasi offends a pure devotee he falls down." (Caitanya-bhagavata, Madhya 19.207-214)
Not only have the GBC members committed repeated Vaishnava-aparadha and engaged in strong blasphemy of Srila Sridhara Maharaja, but they have also committed guru-aparadha, in that many openly offered Srila Sridhara Maharaja glorifying words of praise as their siksa guru, repeatedly stating that his words were nondifferent than Srila Prabhupada's. To then reject and vilify him for improper reasons of personal motivation is most offensive. We have seen over the years so many harsh reactions to these offenses. Many sincere devotees see a direct correlation between these activities of the fifty-five percent of the original gurus and their horrible falldowns and activities.
"Sridhara Maharaja is Sincere; All Others Not"
We have documented the very intimate and long-standing relationship between Srila Prabhupada and Srila Sridhara Maharaja and their highest regard for each other in chapter one: A Transcendental Friendship. In 1967 Srila Prabhupada asked Srila Sridhara Maharaja to be the president of his newly formed Society-ISKCON. [Lilamrta, Vol. 3, p. 203-5] And again in a 1973 Room Conversation [Transcript available] Srila Prabhupada told his disciples, "Our relationship is very intimate. After the breakdown of the Gaudiya Math, I wanted to organize another organization making Sridhara Maharaja the head." One year later (1974) Srila Prabhupada wrote the Rupanuga letter instructing us to not make the same mistake as the Gaudiya Math. This has been previously shown in chapter one to be inconsistent with Srila Prabhupada's actual intimate relationship with Srila Sridhara Maharaja. In his July 7, 1975 letter to Bon Maharaja, one year after the letter to Rupanuga, Srila Prabhupada related Srila Sridhara Maharaja's obviously nonenvious praise of his successful preaching, "Sripada Sridhara Maharaja also appreciated my service. He said that 'Caitanya Mahaprabhu's prediction: prthivite ache yata nagaradi-grama, sarvatra pracara hoibe mora nama; would remain a dream only,' but he congratulated me that I 'have done it practically.'" A year and a half earlier, during a morning walk in Los Angeles on December 14, 1973, Srila Prabhupada had also narrated how Srila Sridhara Maharaja has said that he has done the impossible: mukham karoti vacalam pangum langhayate girim. "That one of my important godbrothers says. He's sincere. All others, they are rascals. He says that, 'In the Caitanya-Caritamrta it is said: prthivite ache yata nagaradi-grama. So we were thinking that this is imagination, that Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's cult would be spread all over the world, every one will chant. So you have done it.' So, he's appreciating in that way. 'But we are simply thinking that it is not possible, it is simply imagination. But that you have made it possible.' So that is his appreciation." In 1977, Srila Prabhupada again made the same distinction between Srila Sridhara Maharaja and envious godbrothers who, after so many years had not learned how to correctly manage the Gaudiya Math temples--that Sridhara Maharaja and others who are intelligent and nonenvious, they are making something, they have a properly functioning Gaudiya Math . [770113RC.ALL] Srila Prabhupada in a letter to Bodhayana Maharaja on November 9, 1976 confirmed Srila Sridhara Maharaja's nonenvious appreciation of Srila Prabhupada as a "great powerful acarya in the Vaishnava world at present." Satsvarupa Maharaja writes in the Srila Prabhupada Lilamrta, "Srila Sridhara Maharaja praised Srila Prabhupada's preaching in America, repeatedly using Prabhupada's phrase 'Krsna consciousness.' Swamiji's work, he said, was the fulfillment of Lord Chaitanya's prophecy that Krsna consciousness would one day spread all over the world. He laughed and smiled and praised the Krsna consciousness movement with no trace of jealousy." [Lilamrta, Vol. 3, p. 203-4]
Further glorification of the supremely pure and spotless position of Srila Sridhara Maharaja spontaneously manifests from his godbrother Srila Bhakti Promod Puri Maharaja. Upon mentioning the name of Srila Sridhara Maharaja he becomes so very happy and will endlessly and joyfully relate the glorious transcendental qualities of Srila Sridhara Maharaja for hours on end, "Although he was born in a high-class, wealthy family, was handsome and became famous for his scholarly achievements, no trace of false pride was ever found in his life or character. He was never known to give trouble to anyone in any way and never felt himself to be the loser when taking troubles from others. He was completely free from any tinge of malicious anger, which is opposed to pure devotional service. He would always heartily try, with great patience, to resolve any problems arising from the conflicts or disputes between his godbrothers. A natural, simple and most cordial behavior was always seen on the part of this spotless personality setting an exemplary standard for the brahmacaris and sannyasis of our mission." We have presented a more complete glorification of Srila Sridhara Maharaja by Srila Puri Maharaja in chapter two: Exalted Glorification.
Srila Prabhupada's implicit trust in Srila Sridhara Maharaja is revealed in Prabhupada's letter of January 30, 1970 to Satsvarupa Maharaja, editor of his Back to Godhead Magazine:
Regarding Sridhara Swami's article: I do not know what sort of article it is, but whatever it may be, the writer's name should be Swami B. R. Sridhara. Besides that, there is no need of giving any short introductory note at the present moment. Whoever sends an article for publication in our paper, and if we publish such article it is to be understood that the version of such article is not different from ours.
In other words, even without seeing Srila Sridhara Maharaja's article, he understood that his article was philosophically sound and in agreement with our mood of presentation of philosophy and therefore acceptable
"Please Stay With Me"
In chapter one: A Transcendental Friendship, excerpts from Room Conversations between Srila Prabhupada and Srila Sridhara Maharaja in 1967, 1973 and 1977* are given as well as numerous other verifiable references, all of which conclusively show the extremely high regard of Srila Prabhupada for Srila Sridhara Maharaja and the extremely high regard of Srila Sridhara Maharaja for Srila Prabhupada. In the 1977 Room Conversation (transcribed from the Bhaktivedanta Archives by Bhakti Caru Swami) Srila Prabhupada repeatedly (six times) implores Srila Sridhara Maharaja to please come live with him in Mayapura and preach to his disciples: "I want very much that you come and stay at Mayapura . . . why don't you come and stay at Mayapura . . . I want to take you everywhere . . . at least at the place we have in Mayapura . . . Why don't you come and stay there? If you just agree . . . This is my earnest desire . . . at least stay there . . . then they can get some guidance . . . please, give me the order and I will make all the arrangements for you."
Srila Prabhupada on several occasions sent disciples to Srila Sridhara Maharaja to be trained and on many occasions asked Srila Sridhara Maharaja to take care of his disciples. This has also been established in chapter one.
"Please Look after Them"
Srila Sridhara Maharaja explains:
When he [Srila Prabhupada] began his translation of the Bhagavad-gita, it was in consultation with me in a very deep way. Anyhow, he requested me many a time that, "Please look after them; I am taking them this side. You have got some responsibility to look after them."
So, I started with this idea, that so many sincere souls that came in my connection, they have become dissatisfied, and indifferent to the present movement of ISKCON. The authorities are avoiding them and they are going away. This touched my heart. And I was repeatedly requested by Swami Maharaja: 'Look after them. I have taken them, brought some raw things, to you, especially to you. Please look after them.' I did not think at that time that he would pass away before me. I also have some affinity for the cause of Mahaprabhu. So if anyone is coming to seek Krsna consciousness but is going away frustrated, then naturally, some sympathy should come in my heart to help him-to give him relief. With that idea, I give help, whatever help I can, although it is very meager. I am simply sitting here. I am not running hither and thither to disturb the brains of the ISKCON followers, and those that are coming to me, how can I send them away? How can I sit tight without giving what I know, what I feel, without extending this sort of help to those persons? But the ISKCON administration has only some formal consideration. These few gentlemen, whom I consider to be students-students, not professors-speaking from my absolute consideration standpoint I consider them to be students, not professors. And they have become self-made authorities, thinking that whatever they dictate, I shall have to obey that? I am not a person of that type. With my clear conscience to God; that is to Krsna, Mahaprabhu, to my gurudeva, and to Swami Maharaja, what I am doing, I think it is justified. Let them capture the whole world. I'll be satisfied. I am not an enemy, because we have a common cause.
Don't Say that You are Perfect
We are all seekers, all students we are and none of us is perfect. We are always dependent on the above. Always the life of a beggar, and not of a king. That the position of acarya is not perfect, they have proved it already by their first action. The acarya's position is vulnerable. But I gave caution before that: "Don't say that you are perfect," but when there is an apparent clash with me, they say that they are perfect? What is this? A foolish thing. Even Swami Maharaja, their gurudeva, had some respect for me-I know it, we had many confidential talks here-and he also had the courage to openly declare that 'Sridhara Maharaja, I have some respect for.' Still, they consider that I am a criminal to stand on the criminal's box before their parliamentary constitution.
They should try by their combined effort to solve any problem facing their mission. And whenever they are facing any difficulty, they should refer to me. I am affectionate to them, they do not have to apprehend anything from me. I am eager to serve you, to help you, but not against the principle, that which I understand to be the truth. In that case, I would be a traitor to my own cause, to my own master.
na hi kalyana krt kascit
durgatim tata gacchati
[Bg 6.40] Be sincere, and you'll understand everything. Arjavam brahmane saksad. Simplicity is the qualification of a brahmana. And then, not only simplicity, but serving-eagerness plus sincerity, that is the qualification of a Vaisnava. Not to take but to give. Not to 'lord it over,' that was the favorite expression of my gurudeva. Not to lord it over, but to be a servant, seeing that everything belongs to my divine master. When that is added to simplicity and sincerity, then one enters into the realm of Vaisnavism in general.
Real Seekers of Truth are Fearless
Devotee: They are afraid that the institution is breaking.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: If they are seekers after truth, they'll be fearless. It is His movement [Krsna's], if He likes, He will keep it. It is spread by His will. So spacious and extensively, in such a small span of life, Swami Maharaja took it to the length and breadth of the world. It is by divine will.
Devotee: Their position is that now they are in so much difficulty that they are just looking for somebody to blame. They don't want to blame themselves. They are just looking for someone outside.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: It is human nature. General weakness of man.
On August 25, 1981 Srila Sridhara Maharaja said,
Your vision is different than mine. My vision is that a jiva is in the ocean and is going up and down with the weeds. Going down gradually. And anyhow he has come to the shore. And again I shall push him into the ocean? Consider his eternal life. This time he has come to you in his eternal chain of life, birth and death and he can be saved. Back to God, back to home. He is coming home and I shall push him back into the ocean of this death and birth? I can't be so cruel.
In 1978 the GBC as a body approached Srila Sridhara Maharaja for advice on many important questions-questions for which he had proper answers. A complete transcript of the first two meetings is given in Appendix A: The GBC Meets Srila Sridhara Maharaja ~ March 1978
Siksa of Srila Sridhara Maharaja Authorized
March 1978~Excerpt from Meeting of GBC with Srila Sridhara Maharaja
Jayapataka Maharaja: After the departure of our beloved spiritual master we came to offer our respects to you as well as to hear your very esteemed upadesa on certain matters if you would be kind enough. Maharaja, when our Srila Prabhupada left, he has given instruction that for initiating and for carrying on the sampradaya there would be eleven. In the beginning, he appointed eleven devotees, his disciples, to be initiating spiritual masters or to accept disciples and in the future that number would also be able to be increased. So we wanted to take your advice on some points as to various details of how these initiating spiritual masters should deal with certain questions. If we could ask questions to you then.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: yes, you may ask.
We Should Approach Sridhara Maharaja
Jayapataka Maharaja: He has given explicit desires, but he told us that, on other technical points and other matters of philosophy, if there was question we should approach you. He said that when he was very ill, he had appointed eleven ritviks and he said that after he disappears that these ritviks would continue as initiating spiritual masters and that they could be increased later, that would be decided by the GBC or Governing Body Commission.
The first question was, we wondered that some of the disciples had been initiated by Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja. But this Hari-nama, so they will be taking diksa from one of his disciples, so they wondered, what is their relationship in this type of situation with each of the spiritual masters?
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: A Disciple, he may like one-first or third or fourth or fifth, how to solve that.
Tamal Krsna Maharaja: (background): That we must solve.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: A person . . .
Guru Choice by Sraddha
Jayapataka Maharaja: He can take who he likes, he may take whichever one he wants?
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: According to his sraddha.
Devotee: His faith.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: According to his sraddha a newcomer should be given some time. Who will come to be initiated, he should be given some time for a fair period of time to hear from different persons and then the sraddha, the faith . . .
Devotee: . . . will be awakened.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: Ah, will be considered to whom he will submit. Do you follow?
GBC Assembly: Yes
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: After sravan, then varan, five stages there are; first to hear. First stage is to hear and the second stage, that is varan, that is, acceptance by the guru and the sisya, both the preceptor and the disciple. That is the second stage, varan dasa. Then the sadhana or the attempt for realization will begin. First stage, to hear openly, open field-fair field to hear-then the connection should come between the guru and sisya-preceptor and disciple, both sides. Then that should be better. Sravan dasa, then varan dasa, then sadhana dasa, apan dasa, prapan dasa-five stages in sadhana in spiritual life.
Earlier, in chapter five in the section entitled Zonal Acarya System, we have presented excerpts of Srila Sridhara Maharaja's advice from which it has been alleged that this controversial concept of zonal acaryas arose. Although Srila Sridhara Maharaja mentioned that a zonal preference for guru would help to get out of the difficulty of many gurus in some temples, he later in the same session adjusted this statement. A careful study of these transcripts shows that while he stated that according to our Gaudiya siddhanta, our process is an autocratic one, submission to guru is unconditional-that the "sisya will be greatly disturbed if he sees any other Vaisnava disturbing the absolute position of his guru"-therefore "at least one place should be there where the disciples can get their guru exclusively," but that he also added, "will not be possible practically." Further, he said that "We cannot reach into a particular solution as all complete and perfect." He related that his Guru Maharaja, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura had answered a similar question with the explanation that, "'Krsna is adhoksaja, He is not bound to come into our fist.' We cannot reach into a particular solution as all complete and perfect. Go with fair feeling, this utmost I can suggest to you."
Srila Sridhara Maharaja also said that if non-gurus were to govern gurus this would cause a difficulty, so his suggestion was that if all the members of the GBC were guru then it would be better. Then Sridhara Maharaja suggested that they carry out the instructions of Srila Prabhupada for the time being and gradually gain practical experience. Rather than giving all the GBC the position of gurus, the eleven controlling gurus made the two gurus who were not GBC's into GBCs and left it at that. They consolidated their power rather than take the path advised by Srila Sridhara Maharaja, that of a dynamic process -- a fair field for all -- preserving the spiritual characteristics. One might conjecture that the remaining non-guru GBC's weren't qualified to be guru, to which we answer, then they certainly were not qualified to have absolute rigid control of the spiritual lives of so many. This neglect of Srila Sridhara Maharaja's advice led to just the problems predicted by Sridhara Maharaja. In March of 1981 Srila Sridhara Maharaja was told,
In Srila Prabhupada's last will he established the GBC as the supreme managing authority of ISKCON. But with the establishment of eleven spiritual masters the situation in the GBC has become that actually eleven people are making the decisions and not the full Governing Body. So the non-acarya section of the GBC is very discouraged and unable to fully execute their voice as GBC members.
Sridhara Maharaja's response, presented earlier in chapter five in the section I Told Them Right at the Beginning, was
Then I suggested that this should be made into a dynamic practice so that every year during Gaura Purnima some new gurus can be added. Then the other party, the non-initiating godbrothers will have their confidence in the initiating godbrothers and give their support to them. Otherwise if they maintain some rigid practice then the relationship will be cracked. This was my suggestion but they did not care about that. Emphatically they said, "No, only these eleven."
Synthesis Will Help You Most
1978 Darshan continued:
Tamal Krsna Maharaja: How shall we deal with temples with several acaryas?
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: In the major centers, problems will arise if one guru will take the central position, because so many interests exist there. Those centers which Srila Prabhupada personally established should keep a group photo with Srila Prabhupada in the center on the altar. You may start with your gurudeva, Srila Prabhupada, in the center and others as parsada. You must start in this way now. Then the time will help you gradually.
Tamal Krsna Maharaja: This is in the main branches or in the sub-branches? This is in the main Math or everywhere?
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: This will be maintained everywhere!
Tamal Krsna Maharaja: Everywhere?
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: Everywhere!
Tamal Krsna Maharaja: Group Photo.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: Synthesis will help you most. As much as we can synthesize that will come to help you more. Your Prabhupada's Vyasasana should not be occupied by any of the disciples nor by their picture. A second seat should be given a little below for the present acarya. This will impress the disciple that even his [siddha] guru, he is giving respect to his own guru.
Jayapataka Maharaja: But in those temples newly established by zonal guru, in that place then, this would not be required? (Bengali)
[Note that at the time of this first official meeting of the GBC with Srila Sridhara Maharaja the zonal acarya conception is already in place.]
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: Even in new organization also, the same thing will go on, because whatever you are creating, that is with the impression, first impression is from him [Prabhupada].
Tamal Krsna Maharaja: That's a fact.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: Go with fair feeling, go on with fair feeling, this utmost I can suggest to you.
In his paper Under My Order, (see chapter five) Ravindra Svarupa writes,
But, Tamal Krsna Goswami says, 'something else was added: the notion that the ritvik appointment of itself conferred an exclusive and selected status, institutionally elevating these devotees far beyond all others. The ritvik appointment was considered the apppointment of guru.' Tamal Krsna Goswami continues, 'They [the GBC] immediately [thought] these eleven people are the selected gurus. I can say definately for myself . . . that there was some degree of trying to control.'
Free Choice of Guru Reiterated
That the rigid zonal acarya system (forced initiation by the local guru only) would be forced on all to accept could hardly be expected, but when Sridhara Maharaja was informed of this on Feb. 1, 1982, he reiterated his original suggestion of free choice by sraddha :
"A person of one zone should be able to accept a guru of another zone. Free choice by sraddha. One who has preference for one acarya but he is compelled to accept an acarya who he considers to be lower than another-that is some anomaly. That zonal arrangement is against free choice. When one gets the comparative study of the words and expressions of the different acaryas from the bottom of his heart, he likes one acarya. But because he is in a particular zone, he is forced to accept another acarya -- that is an anomaly -- in my opinion."
Srila Sridhara Maharaja further suggested (again) that the number of gurus be increased. Finally in March of 1982 three gurus were added for the first time [Gopal Krsna Maharaja, Svarupa Damodara Maharaja and Panca Dravida Maharaja, who immediately all went to Srila Sridhara Maharaja for his blessings in their new service. [This was in the middle of a major GBC confrontation with Srila Sridhara Maharaja]. More gurus were not added again until 1985.
You Must Become Guru
In March of 1981 (Tape #7c) Srila Sridhara Maharaja reiterated to Satsvarupa Maharaja his advice of a few days earlier. Tamal Krsna Maharaja had stated that he did not feel quite fit to take the position of initiating guru, so, should he go on and do so? Srila Sridhara Maharaja answered, that, amara ajnaya guru haya; by the command of Mahaprabhu and my guru maharaja, it is His order. We must be so much careless of ourself, if it is possible, that I may go to hell, but I must carry out my guru's order. So, through me, the work will go on. That is one. And another instance is that of Krsna's headache, where the gopis supplied their footdust for Krsna's headache even though they would go to hell for doing this they didn't care as Krsna was cured. Another example quoted by Srila Sridhara Maharaja was that of Ramanujacarya who freely distributed a mantra that gave liberation, although forbidden by his guru. Here his guru admitted that his disciple was greater than him. Further, Jiva Goswami says jnana sathya vittha sathya, that if I have some money and another person is suffering and I can't pay-if I keep tight that money, and he lies fasting without food, then I'll be responsible for that. Vittha sata. So, jnana sata is there, I have got some knowledge, I can help my neighbor, but if I don't do that, then I am responsible. I shall commit an offense against the society and against the cause. Srila Sridhara Maharaja also gave the example of a doctor who does not have perfect knowledge of treatment of all diseases, yet he must treat his patients or the whole method of treatment will vanish. So, in good faith with whatever knowledge one has got, he must sincerely help others with that sort of knowledge and guidance. In this spirit we may take it, otherwise we will be blamed. However if a superior guru is available we must help others to take help from him. We may feel ourselves the lowest of the low, but when acarya-abhimana will flow, it will come through the order of Krsna. You have to do it. If such a sincere urge comes within our heart, then we must do it. If I do not serve the society, whatever I have gotten, then if I think again, no, then I will be responsible to my guru-you have gotten so much energy from me and you keep it within yourself, but the difficulty is there, that to become guru, to capture the position of a guru, the respect of a guru, that is one thing, and to discharge the duty that is another stage. Sincerity is necessary in the conception.
Siksa & Diksa Guru
Jayapataka Maharaja asked Sridhara Maharaja the difference between siksa guru and diksa:
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: Diksa guru-siksa-guruke ta'jani krsnera svarupa (CC Adi 1.47) Diksa guru and siksa guru are both extensions of Krsna. Guru is Krsna, acaryam mam vijaniyam [CC Adi 1.46 ~ Bhag. 11.17.27]. Krsna has come there to liberate me, in different appearance, representations. He is coming, Krsna is coming, oneness in variegated position.
Tamal Krsna Maharaja(Background): Who can be a siksa guru, who is qualified?
Jayapataka Maharaja: Who is qualified to be siksa guru?
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: Whoever sincerely will help me to go towards Krsna, he is siksa guru. Vaisnava is also siksa guru, vaisnavas. Vaisnavas, siksa guru. Who will come in my connection and will help me to go forward, he is siksa guru. And there is vartma pradarsaka guru, siksa guru, mantra guru, nama guru and sannyasa guru.
Comment: In the purport of the first verse above (CC Adi 1.47) Srila Prabhupada writes, "There is no difference between the shelter-giving Supreme Lord and the initiating [diksa] and instructing [siksa] spiritual masters. If one foolishly discriminates between them, he commits an offense in the discharge of devotional service. The initiating spiritual master is a personal manifestation of Srila Madana-mohana vigraha [representing sambandha], whereas the instructing spiritual master is a personal representative of Srila Govindaji vigraha [abhideya]. Both of these Deities are worshiped at Vrndavana. Srila Gopinatha vigraha is the ultimate attraction in spiritual realization [prayojana]."
In Adi-lila 1.35, Srila Prabhupada writes, "A devotee must have only one initiating spiritual master because in the scriptures acceptance of more than one is always forbidden. There is no limit, however, to the number of instructing spiritual masters one may accept. Generally a spiritual master who constantly instructs a disciple in spiritual science becomes his initiating spiritual master later on."
On 28 October, 1981 Srila Sridhara Maharaja advises that we must be very cautious that we select the right things in our devotional life-that we select a guru carefully, that we make decisions based on correct critereon, etc:
"We must be very much cautious, or we may not make real progress-cautious that we may not take one thing for another. That is tama-guna. The nature of tama-guna is described in Bhagavad-gita: to take one thing instead of another. That is the sign of tama-guna. Tama-guna-there is selection, but the wrong selection. Wrong selection is the nature of tama-guna. And the raja-guna is a little higher, one cannot ascertain. And sattva-guna, one can pick the right thing. That is the description. So this tama-guna influence urges us for the wrong selection. We can't wait for proper selection. Selecton must be done, unforbearing. So wrong selection comes out of the temperament of not giving the real value to a thing. That is the greatest enemy. We should wait and see and get the proper time and place to do the right thing. That sort of attitude we must have. trnad api sunicena, taror api sahisnuna, that also teaches us, wait and see. taror api sahisnuna, not like a voracious eater, whatever I shall get I shall swallow it . . . Sastric knowledge, we have heard from our Guru Maharaja and experience I have gotten during his stay and after his departure. I am sincerely trying to put that before you all for your consideration. I consider that it is my reward that I may preach to many different people. And I am forcibly engaged in kirtana. My guru maharaja was very fond of kirtana. We saw that he can't speak, still if anyone comes he cannot but speak."
Srila Prabhupada advises:
"Guru must be transparent. The 100% servant of his guru, only he can be guru. This is the criteria. Even a disciple may commit a mistake when accepting a guru, therefore it is the duty of the other Vaisnavas to guide him. We find in the Caitanya-caritamrta, Madhya-lila 24.330 that Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu instructs Sanatana to include in his book of Vaisnava behavior the characteristics of the bona fide guru and the bona fide disciple, guru-laksana, sisya-laksana, donhara pariksana, so that the disciple can be assured of the spiritual masters position and similarly that the guru can be assured of the disciples position."
"No one should be allowed to sit on the vyasasana who is not spotless in character and who is not freed from the above mentioned vices [4 Regulative Principles]" (Bhag. 1.1.6). In the purport of Cc Adi 1.46, Srila Prabhupada writes,
"If one poses himself as an acarya but does not have an attitude of servitorship to the Lord, he must be considered an offender, and this offensive attitude disqualifies him from being an acarya.
In March of 1978, in the first meetings with the GBC, Srila Sridhara Maharaja advised reading the section in chapter six of Harinama Cintamani on guru tyaja, wherein Bhaktivinode Thakura gives a detailed and elaborate description of guru selection, guru falldown, guru rejection, etc. We have included this section from Harinama Cintamani in Appendix I so our readers can further see the efficacy of Srila Sridhara Maharaja's advice.
Devotee: Will the disciple of a madhyama-adhikari guru achieve the same result as a disciple of an uttama-adhikari guru?
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: Of course. There may be little differences but according to one's previous sukrti we may recover the differences-sincerity. That may be compensated, gradually. If we are sincere, just as the connection of guru we may have by the arrangement of the absolute, so also in our own case that madhyama-adhikari guru will give instruction rightly. And also he may return and I can have justice. In one birth I may meet one guru and in another birth I man meet another guru. But substantial measurement will all be the same, only some difference in form. So, even in this life also after getting some instructions from a particular guru I may get another siksa guru where I can learn more. That may not be impossible. Because that guru is one, acarya mam vijaniyam. Our sincerity and His grace, that is one and the same thing. His grace-simultaneously there may be guru, simultaneously many gurus.
Guru Deviation ~ GBC Acts
Srila Sridhara Maharaja speaks on the removal of two acaryas in April 1980:
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: They have both been permanently removed?
Dheera Krsna: Out of the zone? It's permanent?
Bhakti Caru Swami: Permanent.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: Both permanently removed?
Dheera Krsna: From America . . .
Bhakti Caru Swami: Permanently removed, by unanimous vote.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: Permanently removed. This has been a very serious mistake. It can be considered a death blow. The position that was established by Swami Maharaja on the strength of majority to dismiss it in just one or two years [Based on the information given by the GBC to Srila Sridhara Maharaja]. This has been a very bold step. This has been an interference into the "srota pantha." I think that such bold step should not have been taken. To challenge the decision of the spiritual master and give a verdict against his will -- to remove the nominated acaryas of Swami Maharaja so soon, it has become very undeliberate and is almost suicidal, almost suicidal step. It has challenged the very nomination of Swami Maharaja.
Dheera Krsna: That's one of the questions. In Prabhupada's books he never says that one is guru by appointment, but he says one is guru by qualification. By qualification-not by appointment.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: Considering the qualification, he gave recognition to the acaryas, is it not? Independent of qualification, whimsically he appointed, did he? Did he do so?
Bhakti Caru Swami: Actually one of the questions is that, whether Prabhupada really appointed them as guru. Because so far we haven't found enough proof to confirm that.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: What is the basis of the acaryas?
Bhakti Caru Swami: That Prabhupada said that they can be ritviks.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: Ritvik.
Bhakti Caru Swami: Yes, on behalf of Prabhupada they can initiate.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: During his lifetime. During his lifetime these eleven were appointed as his assistants. They could also initiate during his lifetime?
Bhakti Caru Swami: No, not during his lifetime. During his lifetime they can initiate on behalf of Prabhupada. But, after Prabhupada left, who will initiate, Prabhupada did not clearly mention. This doubt is coming up now.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: At least that is to be surmised that persons that were allowed during his stay, who occupied the position or ritvik or mediator they should have some recognition thereby -- there must be grave reason to remove. It is, of course, removable but not so easily, not so easily. Once this has been accepted by the GBC that they have gotten nomination from gurudeva in any way or another, they should not be removed so easily. There must be grave cause to deal against them. And it is mentioned in the scripture that with the help of a higher Vaisnava, with the advice of a higher realized soul, the position of guru should be challenged. And that is the most deplorable thing in the world, in the life of any man, to change the guru or to see that his guru is charged or dismissed or dishonored. Of course, it can never be permanent, only in the case of vaisnava-aparadha. That is the most detrimentral thing on this path, without that any small defects that can be seen in our eyes or felt by our ordinary conception that is not sufficient cause to remove one from the position of acarya who has already been selected by guru maharaja. To disbelieve the guru maharaja to such a high degree, this is not an easy matter to play with.
Bhakti Caru Swami: Now that it has been done.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: Now, that may be compensated, it is temporary and then to reinstate, to remove the foolishness of the body. Of course, if there is sufficient cause, sufficient cause including a sort of dishonor to guru and vaisnava, not ordinary differences in policy or propoganda or preaching. The policy and the process of preaching may vary, that does not matter much, but offense against a guru and Vaisnava that should be considered as the serious point to remove an acarya. Or, gross negligence about moral life. Something like that. A very heavy loss of moral life, that is also sufficient, that may be a strong cause but the offense to the guru parampara descent line of the divinity, that is generally considered to be the cause of the removal of the acarya. Krsna.
On October 21, 1980, following several such intense question and answer sessions, Satsvarupa Maharaja, very much enthused by the sound sastric advice presented, prepared a tape of these sessions with his own introduction and distributed it to all his disciples:
"I thought the issues they discussed were very significant for my disciples, especially because of the answers given by Srila Sridhara Maharaja, and the way the GBC members responded to him, bringing about a resolution under Srila Sridhara Maharaja's guidance. Just before his disappearance, His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada, our beloved spiritual master and the Founder-Acarya of ISKCON, said that we should go to his Godbrother Sridhara Maharaja for guidance on philosophy, after the disappearance of Srila Prabhupada. So, this talk of October certainly showed the GBC doing this, and Srila Sridhara Maharaja fulfilling this role, as Prabhupada requested he do for the disciples of Srila Prabhupada. I will summarize the talk briefly, up to a certain point, and then I will play excerpts from the time when Sridhara Maharaja did most of the talking."
"The members were going to Sridhara Maharaja to settle big problems; particularly two GBC gurus wanted to present their grievances. As most of you already know, back in April [of 1980], the GBC had a meeting and took action against these two guru Godbrothers for certain activities of theirs which were deemed improper. The two gurus submitted to their decision, and left their zones in the care of others, and they went to India. But there, when they heard from their different disciples how things were going on in their absence, they became disturbed and felt that the treatment by the GBC care-takers was causing a disturbance in their relationship with their disciples."
"So, since the GBC members couldn't settle this themselves, both sides agreed to let Sridhara Maharaja judge what was an impasse for everyone else. So, both sides were willing to go along with Srila Sridhara Maharaja. The gurus wanted a correction in their relationship with their disciples, not to be interfered with; other GBC members wanted Srila Sridhara Maharaja to fully hear their claims of wrong-doings and the need for the GBC to manage the society by law, because Srila Prabhupada did appoint the GBC as the final managerial authority. The main meeting was at another time when GBC members came, including Srila Bhagavan Maharaja, Jayapataka Swami, Srila Tamal Krsna Goswami, Prabhupada Krpa Maharaja, Srila Hansadutta Maharaja, and Gopal Krsna prabhu."
"Sridhara Maharaja proceeded by asking each of them to say what they thought was going on, and what they thought should be done. He said that he wanted to help, but he wanted them to help him, by expressing how they saw it. So, in this way, all the issues were presented and brought out, expressing both the guru's disturbance and the other GBC's concern that the movement had to be governed, and that even a guru or a GBC member who misbehaves will cause a bad effect to the world-wide movement's preaching. . . The principles of the issues, especially as seen by Sridhara Maharaja, are important."
Position of Acarya
Sridhara Maharaja: The position of acarya is very intricate. It is very difficult to bring an acarya under rule. You see, that is our practical experience. You please hear and note: The position of acarya is a relative thing, just as mother-child, father-child, wife-husband; so it s a relative thing. the position of disciple is also relative. So, relative and absolute and their position; to adjust between the two is a difficult thing and it is an eternal [problem[. So, as in rasa, in the madhurya-rasa even there is enmity between vatsalya-rasa and madhurya-rasa. Yasoda is thinking that, "My son is lost! They have captured my son!" And the gopis in madhurya-rasa see that vatsalya is always jealous of our free mixing. That is a hindrance to the way of our free mixing. Still, two things to be continued. It is clearly written in sastra that vatsalya and madhurya are two antagonistic rasas. One is always suspicious that the other in encroaching on my rights. Very jealous. Jealously, encroachment is coming from the other side, against our rightful possession. This is an eternal truth. So, we have to accomodate with such mentality, and such broadness of our hearts. When the Absolute consideration will come, they will have to attach both rasas within the fold. So, to the disciple, the acarya's position is Supreme, even more so than God. In scripture we find it. The guru is more near and more affectionate than God. God has many to deal with, but guru is only careful about my welfare.The other day [August 18, 1980] I told to some of you that it is described in sastra that guru is water around the lotus, and the sun is God. Remove the water, and the sun will burn the lotus. And when the water is around the lotus, the sun will foster the lotus. But if guru is removed, the very God, the sun will burn the lotus. The guru's position is more helpful to the disciple. If we have a natural growth, if we want a natural growth of the sraddha of the disciple, the regard of the disciple toward the guru and the Absolute, such room must be allowed in the constitution, if the constitution is to live at all.
Some adjustment must be made between the relation, and it is better that the acaryas themselves, they will come to directly make all the necessary adjustments between acarya and acarya, acarya and Godbrother, acarya, and his disciples, and the disciples and disciples. All these fine points of sentiment. Sentiment is not to be neglected. Law is not everything. Law should be accomodating to increase the sentiment, otherwise this is no law. Law should come to promote the sraddha, make room for the faith to develop. Such law should come to help us. Sastra. Sastra's jurisdiction is limited. Only to promote love, and when love comes it will be free. Smooth harmonious working is possible only in the area of love. Spontaneous. That is also some sort of hitch, as in madhurya-rasa and vatsalya-rasa . . . but all to please Krsna. Harmony is there. But ragavid bhava navadhi vaidhi bhakti adhikaras tu ragavid bhava navdhi. Vaidhi bhakti: devotion under the guidance of sastra, laws and rules, that is to a certain extent necessary. It will only help the inner awakenment of love and affection, and then it will retire. Law will retire giving room to the spontaneous flow of love. Loving service to the Supreme. So, law is not all. Law is necessary and especially in the lower stage. And it should make room for free movement between the relationship, just as I once told that if one is not married, there is no necessity of any separate room. He may lay down here and there. But, whenever he marries, he wants some room to behave in a particular way. Some private arrangement. So, when one is next to a disciple, that sort of relationship should find some independent place to express its fullest feelings, unbridled feelings towards the master. That should not be curbed by law. There is also necessity of law, and law's object will be to work our freedom for everyone. Freedom is the highest thing. Free service is raga-marg, and that is service proper. Not regulated and coerced, and pressed by law. That is not service. Expecially our aim is Vrndavana. So, free service. Without freedom, service is not valuable. Forced labor is no labor. Labor of love, that is required. and it is the thing for which all are out. Let us essentially think that we are all not only for the constitution, but the thing for which the constitution has been made, to that object. The constituation should promote to that aim. With this feeling. The newcomers are coming with their faith, and faith should be encouraged and also adjusted, that the faith of one person will not disturb another."
Posterity Will Judge — History Will Reveal All
Srila Sridhara Maharaja told the story of Queen Victoria who as a new queen wanted to be lenient in judging her first case. He suggested, "In the internal administration, you'll give more to affection, and towards your dealings with the public, you may proceed with some legal action. Legal, moral, all these things are to be showed in public. But forgive and forget within you, internally. The consideration of love and affection, that should be the greatest consideration."
Further Srila Sridhara Maharaja cautioned the GBC that posterity will judge them-history will reveal all, so they should be very careful, that they are writing their Prabhupada lilamrita so they should show the proper dignity of the acaryas.They will gain the greatest confidence of the devotees and gain in power by dealing magnanimously. Further, he pointed out that the restriction on the acarya must come from the acarya himself, that the disciples should see that their guru is not ruled by law-by others-"otherwise the disciples faith will vanish." This is the ideal put forward by Srila Sridhara Maharaja. It is not that this is the all in all-the acarya now is free to do any and all nonsense. But the ISKCON "acaryas" didn't regulate themselves-worse, the slightest mention of constructive criticism was treated as if it was a demoniac attack. They did whatever they wanted with the admonition that "the acarya cannot be regulated," placing themselves above any form of regulation, thus abusing these instructions. Later they blamed Srila Sridhara Maharaja for their improper activities.
Law Necessary but not to Kill Enthusiasm
"The free love, free faith, that is the only thing, the most valuable thing for which we have come out of our own house, and joined the mission. That purity of purpose should always be kept intact. Of course, some help from law, regulation is necessary. But not so much as to check the growth of the vitality. Promote the vitality! The real spirit, the real purpose of the mission, that should be given first hand. In this way, you have to deal. And there, some lenient dealings are necessary."
Srila Prabhupada manytimes gave instructions similar to Srila Sridhara Maharaja's instructions above. Perhaps the most well known instruction is Srila Prabhupada's letter to Karandar das in 1972:
"The point is to be engaged in doing something very much satisfying to the devotee, that he remains always enthusiastic. He will automatically follow the regulative principles . . . So the future of this Krsna consciousness movement is very bright, so long the managers remain vigilant that 16 rounds are chanted by everyone without fail, that they are all rising before four in the morning, attending mangala aratik-our leaders should be careful not to kill the spirit of enthusiastic service, which is individual and spontaneous and voluntary. They should always try to generate some atmosphere of fresh challenge to the devotees, so that they will agree enthusiastically to rise and meet it. That is the art of management: To draw out spontaneous loving spirit of sacrificing some energy for Krsna. But where are so many expert managers? All of us should become expert managers and preachers . . . Forget all this centralizing and beauracracy."
Srila Sridhara Maharaja responds to the GBC's Centralization:
Devotee: Maharaja, they are arguing that Srila Prabhupada wanted everyone to work under the GBC, but we are not doing that, so therefore everything we do is unauthorized.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: Authorized from the greater circle -- the general saying of the general call to go and preach about Krsna. GBC committee resolution is recommendatory. But, to facilitate that he appointed some gentlemen. That does not mean that he has given everything within their fist, their whimsical fist. At present it is dollars, diplomacy and despotism in the name of devotion, dedication and divinity. God is within their fist, Krsna, and they think like that. But that it is the opposite they will have to think. So much pride: "Whatever we view, we'll dictate, and that cannot but be the opinion of Guru and Gauranga, Krsna." So, limited narrow views. So much so, don't go beyond our guru maharaja's books. His guru, other goswami's, no. Don't go. What is this? The natural advice should be, "Read others to support what is written by our gurudeva." By extensive study. Food, that is what our guru maharaja has said, to support that. Our expansion is necessary. Otherwise you won't be able to maintain your solidarity. This is defeatist mentality. It is not a dead thing, it is a progressive living thing.
Below we present an excerpt from the August 19, 1980 darshana wherein Srila Sridhara Maharaja, hearing that many Godbrothers are leaving ISKCON in frustration, unable to tolerate the mismanagement of ISKCON, advises not to be too rash, but "Wait and see." Further he suggested that the Godbrothers should "Call For A Meeting." He proposed that at this meeting the grievances of the Godbrothers could be presented to the GBC and hopefully resolved. A careful study off the transcripts shows that always Srila Sridhara Maharaja advocates a moderate thoughtful path--don't be rash, consider the many consequences of your activities-consider the best interests of the devotees, not just the maintenance of the ruling power.
GBC Activities Intolerable
Bhakti Caru Swami: Bengali:
Maharaja, the main consideration is that many of Prabhupada's disciples are leaving the movement. They are quite unable to tolerate all this nonsense any more.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: Bengali:
Yes, the ones who won't be able to check themselves, they will come forward. And the ones, those who are wavering, those who can tolerate a little more, they can wait and examine what actually is Krsna's desire for a little longer. The primary consideration is Krsna's will . . . The ones who won't be able to control themselves, they will dive into it. Without considering the good, bad, honor and infamy; without considering the future, they will dive into it for reformation. From a distance I am saying, "Wait and see." The ones, those who are the real lovers of the institution, for them this is becoming intolerable. This is going beyond their level of tolerance.
Bhakti Caru Swami: Bengali:
The main reason why we came is because there are many devotees, those who are impatiently waiting to hear what you have to say. Now, if you just show us the way. Now this has come to this point and unless some rectification is made, must be done, then they all will get together to do something about this.
"Call For a Meeting"
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: Bengali:
If I have to say something formally from outside, then I have to say that among you who enjoy the greatest confidence of all the devotees, through such a man you "Call For A Meeting" in America or wherever the field is the most important. And in that meeting, the ones, those who are willing to boldly face the situation, participate, the GBCs, those who you feel are dissatisfied inwardly, call them and call a few acaryas like Ramesvara Maharaja who are sympathetic. And then in the meeting, you record the feeling of different devotees and then with the strength of that resolution you call for their explanation that, "What are you doing in the name of Prabhupada? You are not absolutely infallible. Due to your activities the mass of the disciples of Prabhupada have become very bewildered. They are becoming very disappointed and they can see that a great loss is going to be incurred by the ISKCON society. The ISKCON society is in danger. So now, you all reconsider yourselves and appeal to them to readjust themselves and thus this disaster can be saved. So many devotees are leaving the movement. So many devotees have become half-dead, and so many devotees have already died. And so many are lamenting and we cannot just sit idly without trying to rectify the situation. We ourselves do not want any position, but what is going on is intolerable. It shows that the major portion is going to die. This must be thought out and accepted." So, with this idea, you form a committee, make a resolution, and then selectively invite to come. In this way you "Call For A Meeting," pass a resolution, and then call for them and ask them to readjust their position and reconsider. Otherwise we shall be in painful necessity to make progress independently. You can say this in this line.
Finally, many years later in 1985 a meeting was arranged in New Vrndavana-many issues were at hand-godbrothers throughout the movement demanded reform. One of the many dealt with-that of the grossly deviant and fallen condition of one of the eleven original gurus. Which was finally admitted and dealt with, that which had been hidden and covered up for so long-private bank accounts of huge amounts of money, extravagant spending, illicit homosex, drugs, and many more things. Extravagant guru worship was lowered, exclusive vyasasanas and acarya pictures on the altar except during arotika were stopped, guru expansion was opened up, and in the words of Satsvarupa Maharaja in his September 21, 1985 Guru Reform letter to his disciples, "a near unanimous decision has been reached by the senior devotees, that the present system of zonal acaryas should be changed." Additionally the GBC resolved as a result of these meetings that individual temples could make changes regarding guru-disciple-godbrother relations, worship etc as they saw fit.
On the previous day, August 18, 1980, Srila Sridhara Maharaja had addressed the problem of acarya grandeur and stated that he thought it would create difficulty if it was not adjusted. We have discussed this in chapter five in the section entitled, Is Srila Prabhupada's Mood different than Srila Sridhara Maharaja's? [full transcript in Appendix E], wherein we present the sound advice of Srila Sridhara Maharaja in response to the complaints of the Godbrothers in regards to the GBC's management and personal activities. Further, we give the history of one GBC guru's attempts to adjust his worship to a moderate standard. He was forced by the GBC to abandon his reform attempt or lose his post as guardian of the Bhaktivedanta Book Publishing Trust.
Another guru took the sastric instruction that one may see the nama-guru thru the mantra (gayatri) guru (when they are different personalities) by Srila Sridhara Maharaja too far and forcefully told his Godbrothers, who had both initiations from Srila Prabhupada, that they had no relationship with Srila Prabhupada and must see Srila Prabhupada thru him-that "you must serve a person, not a concept," inferring that Srila Prabhupada was reduced to a concept and that he, the GBC guru, was the living embodiment of this guru-tattva. Clearly this is a misinterpretation of this instruction and severly shook the faith of those Godbrothers in this guru and caused much disturbance. Srila Sridhara Maharaja had warned the GBC in their first meeting in 1978 that they must respect the faith of their godbrothers in Srila Prabhupada. And when he heard of this misinterpretation of his instruction on August 19,1980 (Appendix F), he very kindly replied:
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: Guru bhognike. This is not objectionable to the extreme, but partially objectionable, because, suppose there are five sons of a father and the eldest son says to the youngest, "You don't know the ways how to satisfy the father. You must do what I shall say. You do that to please my departed father. These things were very favorite, to offer these things will be most pleasing" This sort of advice may be given. If it is done in such color then of course it is innocent. That I have got more experience about Prabhupada's nature so if you really want to do favorite work of Prabhupada, you use my experience, that will help you a great deal. Don't try to connect direct-have a direct relation with him. You'll be deceived. You'll not be able to come to his concrete self, it will be only vague.
Bhakti Caru Swami: Maharaja, we heard about the characteristics of a paramahamsa, that he extracts the nectar. Separates the milk from water, and he takes the milk. That now we can see in you the manifestation of that quality, you are always taking the nectar
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: Yes, I am simply trying to see the brighter side of it so that we may not commit any mistakes against the other party. We must always see the brighter side . . . So all the arguments that the other party might want to give, we shall discuss them in detail and bring out the salient points so that we might not make any mistakes. We must be aware that we are not influenced by any prejudices. Just like they are being influenced by prejudices, we should be careful not to commit the same mistake. We must be well-guarded so that we are not led astray of the path of truth.
Another guru prohibited the guru-puja of Srila Prabhupada in his temples. Disciples of Srila Prabhupada were not allowed to worship Prabhupada. Another wanted to live in Srila Prabhupada's quarters and when he was refused a big fight ensued. Many of the offerings to the gurus were refused as not being opulent enough.
GBC Must Be Living Nor Mechanical
In March of 1981 (Tape # 7A), Srila Sridhara Maharaja advised the GBC representative that the GBC must be a living organization, not mechanical-one cannot mandate affairs of the heart with an iron fist, as per Machiavellian philosophy (see Machiavelli's Princes in chapter five):
"Some sort of restriction should be there, but life cannot be ruled by only law. Both must be accomodated. The scope to the merit. Scope to merit must be allowed, and there should also be some sort of rules there. Law and vitality. Law is there, but merit or vitality cannot be checked. They must have field, proper field, merit must have proper field. By law one should not check the proper person and only encourage the improper one. Both sides-regulation, law is also necessary to be subservient to the natural growth. Suppose a boy requests more food, he will grow, he will be more strong. If you give him more food, then it will bring justice, according to his capacity he should be given food, he will get more strength and do more work. So, this sort of provision must be in the law, is it not? To make the movement quite living. That is my opinion. This facility is to create a fair field, so it must be a living Governing Body, not a mechanical Governing Body, but living Governing body."
Earlier in chapter five, we quoted Sivarama Swami's suggestion that the GBC be more in touch with the rest of ISKCON instead of trying to administrate all problems once a year.
Guru Deviation ~ Wait & See
Sudhira Goswami: If after initiation one sees some problem in the behavior of his guru then?
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: Then of course he cannot but be indifferent to his present guru in the beginning, that I see difference, it is not in the line. But I have taken initiation, so, wait and see, that should be his behavior. Wait and see. I do not find any encouragement in him to engage in the service with earnestness. It may be that it is of course a disaster, calamity.
Sudhira Goswami: It may also be due to immature understanding.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: But those defects, they should be analyzed as to whether they are external or internal. The difference that is being detected, is that external, superficial or substantial. If they are superficial, he should be encouraged that this may be neglected, but if internal, then of course it is a difficult case, and he cannot but be indifferent for some time, and then gradually time will decide and show what is the matter, and then he should take such steps accordingly.
A Fair Field is Necessary
In March of 1981 Srila Sridhara Maharaja responded to the following statement of a GBC guru, "So, I have some questions about the position of our gurus. Prabhupada named me also as one of the devotees who would begin initiating. So I have felt disturbed that the position of the gurus was raised above all of our godbrothers because of too much worship . . . It seems to me that many of my godbrothers, they are equal or even greater-they can give Prabhupada's teachings just as well as anyone, but they are not named as gurus, so there seems to be too much difference between them and the gurus. So this has been a big disturbance to me:"
"That is a very serious question. They are making much of the position of the acarya. They are misusing the position according to him [Prabhupada]. But that is a very serious question and on that point I have discussed, I have given my opinion many times. In brief, a system should be created or arranged for the proper adjustment. Of course it is necessarymad gurusi jagad guru. He is the suprememost, at least in a particular way. In a particular way he is the best: yar ye rasa se haya sarva . . . Relative position. From the relative standpoint the disciple will see his guru to be the best. And there he will think, that the Lord has delegated him to come to me and to deliver me from the clutches of maya. He has some particular affinity there. And there are many acaryas, and what should be the behavior, the conduct of the disciples of different acaryas? How and what should be the behavior or conduct towards the nonacarya, godbothers of the acarya? That should be evolved. If direction is not given by Swami Maharaja, there might be some signs, some hints. But if it is not found there, then we shall have to evolve some rules and regulations for a proper adjustment so that the mission may not suffer. Suffer from indifference or negligence or abhorrance of the nonacarya disciples of Swami Maharaja. As you say, there are more qualified disciples outside the acarya board, or GBC. It is not impossible, not impossible. So, we should sit together and try to see that valuable persons that came to serve Swami Maharaja with all their energy and sincerity they will go away, it is very, very regretable. We should try to save the mission from that great disaster. I hear that so many stalwarts they are going away, being indifferent and going underground to the unknown quarter, depressed because they do not see fair field. So these things should not be set aside but it must be taken in and they should be discussed. Some salient points, you should prepare a list-that this is a list of disadvantages, inconveniences. The disease has entered into ISKCON and how to treat it. This is our common cause, we are all interested in ISKCON, we are members, we have given our life, dedicated our life for this mission. We are interested and we don't like that our godbrothers will go astray dissatisfied with the management. So try your best to evolve some rulings or some sort of laws, rules which should guide us all, help us all. At the same time it will push the cause of the mission of ISKCON. As dynamic as it is accomodative-comprehensive and dynamic mission we want to have.
Recruiting a Farce when Stalwarts Leaving Discouraged
We have a great field ahead. We must go to the length and the breath of this world with the banner of our Guru Maharaja Prabhupada, Swami Maharaja, and combined effort is necessary for that. We do not like to lose anything. We should collect all our energy, money, men, and we must go on with the banner of our Prabhupada. For this, unity and fairness in the field is necessary. This will strengthen the hearts of all the members of ISKCON. In this way you may introduce-that such an accomodating and dynamic program we want to have. We would like to have. And without doing that we won't allow you to dissolve your meeting. You must come to such a conclusion and give us such a program. Otherwise we won't allow you to go away from this Math. Do it. Make provision to feed all the members, such that all can be satisfied, have food, proper food. Everyone must have proper food to work on. Evolve such a program and give it to us. If you are efficient enough, if you will consider yourself to be efficient, then give us this thing-that we can march on with the flag with our head erect. We have to go and capture the new, but the old is already going back. They are driven, they are being driven and we are going. The old, the important members, who received the grace of our Guru Maharaja, they are being discouraged and becoming indifferent. And we are going to recruit new persons? Is it not a farce?"
Living GBC Meeting We Want Not Formal
"I am speaking a little strongly. But as a friend of your Guru Maharaja I feel this in my heart, so I say, this worldwide grand mission will thrive like anything. It will touch the heaven and cover the world and other planets also. And what is this? That old persons they are going back? There may be one, a few exceptions, but generally people came with a good and sincere heart and they are feeling discouragement. Some encouraging program must be evolved, we want to have. So, let us evolve. Not just a formal meeting for two days, three days. But it must be a meeting to satisfy the real necessity of the day. That is a living committee, that we want. Living meeting we want. Not a formal meeting. After one year, a formal meeting and some resolutions passed, and everyone has gone to his own field and is doing as he likes. Hare Krsna. Gaura Hari Bol."
Our Affectionate Guardians:Chapter Six: Aparadha
Guru Deviation ~ Symptoms ~ Kanak, Kamini & Pratistha
On October 7, 1981 Srila Sridhara Maharaja spoke on guru deviations:
Generally the signs of deviation may be of three types. The first thing is whether or not I can detect that my gurudeva is losing gradually his attraction for his own guru. And sastra upadesa, his previous way of expressing his advice by quoting the scriptures and quoting the words of his own guru, that is becoming gradually absent in him. His attraction is fading for the higher. Then that is pratistha. Kanak, kamini, pratistha. These are the three tests to be put everywhere for whether one is a sadhu or not, or what degree of sadhu he is. The measurement will be pratistha, kanak, kamini -- three gross. The first is the deviation of his higher gurus. That should be detected. That is pratistha. Then more tendency to amass money and not to spend, money may be collected but that must be distributed for the service of the sampradaya, vaisnava; but amassing money, second. And the third is attraction towards the ladies. Of course he may come in connection with money and women and also with pratistha. Pratistha means the honor to him from the disciples. That is also necessary but only for the purpose of divine object, divine aim. Not for himself. But if we can detect that for his personal interest and not for the cause of the sampradaya he is utilizing these things then we should be careful. In the beginning we may neglect some occasions, some instances we may ignore. But if we find that more, then we are to inspect that carefully. And we should mention it to persons similar to our own position. After consultation we can put it to higher sources -- other acaryas also -- who are reliable. So we must not make progress in a slumber. But we must go forward with our eyes open, always opened.
11 January 1982:
Yesterday, perhaps for the first time I heard, I can't trust it even, that [name~GBC guru] trampled down his foot on a book named the Gaudiya Kanthahara, the very gist of all the Vaishnava scriptures prepared by our guru maharaja. Gaudiya Kanthahara. How? "We are only to go through the books given to us by our Swami Maharaja, our Prabhupada." I can't trust [believe] that such heinous work is being done by him. I can't believe that that scripture containing the very gist of Bhagavatam, Gita, and all other Vaishnava scriptures, including the Goswamis, that is the most useful weapon of the preachers, the sannyasis. It was prepared for that line. And that has been trampled under foot. I can't conceive-so much so I would be happy if I hear that "No, no, this is false information." I'll be happy. Because I thought him to be a very simple candid person trying his utmost to follow the line of Mahaprabhu. We may have to be converted into stone if we are to hear these things from the acaryas of Swami Maharaja, appointed by direct appointment. I shudder to think. It may be false. I would like to hear that it is false.
And that must have committed a great offense. A heinous offense. And I advised him, it may be intimated to him that he should publish that Gaudiya Kanthahara in a very beautiful way, and with repentance, and with all regard. Otherwise, he will have to mourn to reap the result of such heinous actions, wherever he be. It is not a matter to talk even in such a way. It is nama-aparadha. First nama-aparadha, the vaishnava-aparadha, and the second, then sastra. The sastra, that is giving the devotional process to us. If we dishonor that, then the Name will be dissatisfied. Sadhu-ninda, and sastra-ninda. The sastra-ninda, to talk against sastra, that is maya, and what he has done, that is demoniac, a heinous thing. And he must beg to propitiate the sastra, and he should publish that particular sastra in a very honorable way and distribute that to others. Then he may escape from that sort of offense. Any friend of him may say to him in my name. It is not a trifling thing. If Krsna is concrete reality, then sastra is also so. The rule of Krsna, that is not to be belittled. It is so serious. It is as real as Krsna. We shudder to hear such things. He must do some service to that very sastra, Gaudiya Kanthahara. It is a very favorite book of our Guru Maharaja. We have seen it. He collected the slokas as equipment -- a storehouse of weapons for all the preachers. So, for the preachers, so many vital quotations to support the Krsna consciousness, and that has been dealt with in such a wrong insulting way. If ever I have heard it, my heart is aching to think of that offense. If I did not inform him, I would be under offense myself.
Gaudiya Math GBC
Srila Sridhara Maharaja was portrayed as being against the formation of a GBC in the Gaudiya Math (i.e. 1974 Rupanuga letter) and that now he was trying to ruin ISKCON. A cronology of events in this regard is given in chapter three: A Short History of Srila Sridhara Maharaja & The Gaudiya Math, which provides a higher perspective on this theory -- wherein it is revealed that not only was a GBC formed by the trustees of the Gaudiya Math, membership of which was declined by Srila Sridhara Maharaja, but Srila Sridhara Maharaja helped advise the GBC when requested to. Further he repeatedly helped negotiate between his godbrothers when asked. "None can approach Vasudeva Prabhu, they are very much afraid of his personality. Only Sridhara Maharaja can do. Though he is his greatest enemy, still he has got some affection for him." Vasudeva Prabhu admitted that although Srila Sridhara Maharaja was his "enemy" still he could trust him and wished to meet with him. It was further revealed that even those who were opposed to him, said that his specialty is that of strong common sense and disinterested nature-not partial, not selfish-always open to truth-out of generousity and kindness. In chapter three Srila Sridhara Maharaja relates how in spite of all opposition he was able to bring together the two opposing parties of the Gaudiya Math and reach a compromise. His preaching capacity is wonderfully illustrated therein.
It was revealed in August of 1981 that the GBC fears Srila Sridhara Maharaja's popularity. Looking back now, we can see clearly why they fear his popularity. He is giving such high and perfect Krsna conscious advice at the same time that the GBC gurus are engaged in all sorts of improper activities-many of which can be considered deviation from the line of our sampradaya. We have seen over the years that the GBC cannot tolerate any mention of reform, any constructive criticism even, and especially proper sastric advice which they are fearful will expose their wrongdoings. History has shown their ongoing faults continuing to this day, and this is well known by all the disciples of Srila Prabhupada and many others as well. Substantial documentation also exists for this as well. Additionally they fear Srila Sridhara Maharaja's popularity, earned by his substantially potent preaching. "Many devotees are discontent with the activities of the acaryas and GBC. So, by hearing your (Srila Sridhara Maharaja's) instructions they became more satisfied and wanted to give these leaders the benefit of the doubt. But then the leaders began to speak against you."
Srila Sridhara Maharaja
responds to this:
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: I am not going anywhere, to do anything against them. I am sitting here. People are coming, and according to my conscience, what I have to say to them I am saying. I am not an aggressor.
Sudhira Maharaja: This has disturbed many of the devotees who are appreciating your instructions.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: Is it going against Swami Maharaja what I say?
Sudhira Maharaja: Not according to them. There is a difference of opinion.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: But, what I said was taped by you all. Was there anything which went against the preaching of Swami Maharaja? I don't think that is the case.
Sudhira Maharaja: No one thinks like that.
Bhakti Caru Maharaja: But it is going against them. Actually many of the godbrothers started to see things from a different perspective.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: Last time also I told them that what they wanted me to do -- I should give ditto to whatever they will do,. Then I asked them, "do you think that I am under your committee." "No, no, that we don't think." Then the day before yesterday, again the same thing. "We had a meeting and in our meeting we accepted the principle that the number of acaryas may be increased. But we did not receive any inspiration this year for extension. But this was not told to you, so we have been told that you remarked that our decision is injudicious and unfortunate." Yes, I did remark in such a way because I want to clear my position to you now that, I am not wholely one with ISKCON and even not wholely one with Swami Maharaja. I have got my special consideration and inclination and thinking. With other godbrothers also I differ in many ways. So everyone has his special characteristic and I also have such. So, what you think to be srota pantha, your meeting unanimous verdict, what you think the right thing coming down, I am not bound to pronounce the same thing-that it is infallible. The meaning is like that. According to my consideration your combined decision was a faulty one, but I did not say so clearly.
On January 12, 1982, Srila Sridhara Maharaja responded to devotees that he would be responsible to Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu if he didn't help the disenfranchised, the disillusioned, the disheartened, who are going away from Krsna consciousness. He stated that he has no aspiration, that he is only responding to those who approach him. How can he refuse those in need of help?
Three disenfranchised ISKCON devotees had left ISKCON to hear from Srila Sridhara Maharaja. After hearing from Srila Sridhara Maharaja for some time they were given sannyasa -- a natural spiritual progression in their ongoing intimate relationship. This was taken by the ISKCON leaders as an intolerable attack -- that he was stealing their men. Srila Sridhara Maharaja's sweet and substantal answer to a devotee disturbed by these initiations is presented in Appendix G: Conversation on January 31, 1982.
The GBC found fault with those godbrothers who sought help from Srila Sridhara Maharaja in the same way that they themselves sought help from Srila Sridhara Maharaja in the beginning (1978-80). They also found fault with Srila Sridhara Maharaja for giving advice in regards to the many problems in ISKCON at the same time that the GBC was not properly dealing with these problems, nor were they able or willing to give proper sastric advice or encouragement to the disenfranchised. On the contrary we see that anyone who wasn't 100% their sold out man was made to feel left out of the mainstream of ISKCON. Those who sincerely wanted answers to the many problems were consistently treated as troublemakers. Mostly the disciples of Srila Prabhupada were frustrated that they had no voice, and that the GBC was maintaining tight control of ISKCON, refusing to expand the number of gurus, etc. Finally in March of 1982, the GBC reluctantly added three new gurus (Svarupa Damodara Maharaja, Gopal Krsna Maharaja & Panca Dravida Maharaja) who immediately came to Srila Sridhara Maharaja in search of his blessings. Not until the meeting with godbrothers in 1985 did the GBC decide to add more gurus beyond these three.
Dheera Krsna: Maharaja: I am accused of being a trouble maker. When I am mixing with my godbrothers the GBC feel that I create disturbance.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: They are afraid of you.
Dheera Krsna Maharaja: I am against the policies of the GBC. So, I thought maybe for a short time I should remain here.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: For the time being you may stay here as you like. But what I understand in you is that you should visit those that are dejected, disappointed and have relief work with them to rescue them. To organize them, they should not leave the movement of Swami Maharaja, or Mahaprabhu, or our Guru Maharaja. This divine movement may not be loved. To keep up the standard. My words may be used to enliven them and to keep them within the fold. Maybe here and there; and the leading persons like Yasodanandana and others such as Pradyumna, who were some stalwarts amongst Swami Maharaja, they are going away, they are going away hither and tither like a ship without a rudder being scattered in different directions. To connect with them, to encourage them in their service to guru-Gauranga, Swami Maharaja, our Guru Maharaja, Bhaktivinode Thakura. And come now and then here and take the necessary directions and similarly theoretical and practical, both sides. To collect some things and to distribute to the patients.
You Are Forcefully Engaging Me
So I am a peace-loving man. Don't try to drag me onto the battlefield. I am of a ministerial habit. Rather a minister than a king That was told to me by Madhava Maharaja, that you can give us good advice but you cannot work as a king. My godbrother Madhava Maharaja told me. You have got foresight. You can give good advice. But you cannot take up anything at your hands direct and go on with the program. The followers of Swami Maharaja who have affection for me, you will combine yourself and do whatever you think good. I am ready to help you theoretically.
Devotee: To us the most important thing is to get the association of your lotus feet.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: If you think so, you may extort from me. Just as Das Goswami says, "I was blind, I was unwilling but Sanatana Goswami was so kind with me that he tried his utmost and forced me to drink the nectar -- vairagya-yug-bhakti-rasam prayatnair (Vilap. Kusam 6). Not only blind, but also unwilling and I was forced to take the medicine. So I am unwilling. And you come and force, exact from me if you find anything good. What is very akin to your masters gift. If you find that what you have already received from your spiritual master, a similar thing is to be found here, then of course you may come and try to snatch it and distribute it to the world. You have got that right.
Devotee: We are situated in Das Goswami's position and you are situated in Sanatana Goswami's position. You are forcing us to relish the nectar.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: But you are active, I am passive here. I am reluctant. and you are coming to me.
Jayapatakha Swami Requests Sridhara Maharaja's Help
Jayatirtha Maharaja, a GBC guru, had fallen from the principles of Krsna consciousness, and had been forced by the GBC to take sannyasa against his will. We were present in Los Angeles during the GBC's meeting there when they voted that Jayatirtha Prabhu must take sannyasa -- very much against his will. Later he was found to have again deviated and fallen. Srila Sridhara Maharaja had advised that Jayatirtha should be dealt with delicately, as he had had many problems and continued to have problems. On August 9, 1981 Srila Sridhara Maharaja asked about the feelings of Jayatirtha Maharaja's disciples, whether or not they were favorably disposed and maintaining their faith in their guru. He also asked about the mood of Jayatirtha's godbrothers towards him.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: Godbrothers are disturbed? Are they of the opinion that once one has left the sannyasa asrama, then he should not be regarded as formerly. Is this their mentality?"
Sudhira Maharaja: Yes. One point that I heard them say is that they did not want to hear that this is some kind of lila. And generally when such a thing occurs there comes doubt about turning over newcomers to such a person.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: Accepting sannyasa, and leaving that and then accepting it -- that's making trouble. Of course there is such example amongst our previous godbrothers during the time of Prabhupada. Sannyasa was taken up, off, and again sannyasa was given to him by Prabhupada. After the departure of Prabhupada he got recognition in the society and was accepted as an acarya by other devotees of Prabhupada. Sannyasa has got a formal value. But the Vaishnava is seen according to the degree of devotion, not in accordance with the dress; the garment is external.
Sudhira Maharaja: They want to reinstate him in his former position. They want to give the benefit of the doubt. And they have made some objection to his attributing some credit to yourself.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: That sort of weakness is also on the part of ISKCON because they wrote a letter to me to interfere with this case. A long letter by the instruction of Bhavananda Maharaja and written by Jayapataka Maharaja requesting me to advise and help in this matter and I did so. Fortunately I could convince him. So, I replied to the letter of Jayapataka Maharaja that, I tried my best according to my best understanding to reinstate him in his former position and now it is your duty to adjust him with your institution. Something like that. And they also came, Bhavananda and Jayapataka and Bhakti Caru Swami -- you might have heard.
Sudhira Maharaja: They are afraid that by devotees hearing of Your Divine Grace's wonderful activities and your preaching that many people will be attracted to you. So this has created a fear in them.
Srila Sridhar Maharaja spoke further on August 30, 1981:
"Jayapataka Maharaja wrote a long letter to me, stating that such and such things have happened. He wrote that he had consulted with Bhavananda Maharaja who told him to consult with me. He asked me for my opinion about all the things that have happened in regards to Jayatirtha. I told him that I don't want to say anything before meeting Jayatirtha Maharaja. I want to know what happened. And I had some doubts. They told that Jayatirtha wanted sannyasa. Ultimately, we have not forced. Reluctantly we gave sannyasa. Still I told him that I would like to hear from him [Jayatirtha] first before making any remark. Then Bhakti Caru Swami brought Jayatirtha Maharaja here from Puri, leaving his wife and son in Calcutta, but I also wanted his wife and son to be here. Then they were also brought here and I consulted with them all. I had had some apprehension that Swami Maharaja had delegated him for acarya position as a grhasta. So, he might have thought that ISKCON, the present managing committee has thrust sannyasa upon him and in some uncareful moment he has accepted that. Then that should not be continued. What Swami Maharaja has given, my gurudeva, I must stick to that. I inquired and found his son thinking like that. So, I told him anyhow, once you have taken up this role of sannyasa and so many acaryas are mostly sannyasis, and any way, once you have accepted sasnnyasa you should not go back formally. To go back, that won't look well. So I gave my opinion, that once accepted, you must retain that. Otherwise it will give a bad name to ISKCON, that is, to your guru-maharaja Prabhupada. Then he agreed. I also had to convince his former wife. She is a good lady. She also told in the tapes what happened. And I asked her, 'Did you come [to Krsna consciousness] before your marriage?' Yes. You came to get the grace of Lord Krsna? Yes, then you are to sacrifice for Swami Maharaja, you are to sacrifice your best beloved object for the cause of Krsna consciousness, I think. And Krsna will look after you. You sacrifice, give him up for fighting. He is a general. One of the big generals, fighters in Krsna consciousness. I heard that he has a good name in his propogation. It must not be taken back. In the beginning of course she wept, shed tears. But anyhow, she got encouragement through my words and advice. The boy also said yes-I also encouraged him and the mother. Finally they accepted my advice. Then I asked that Jayatirtha send a letter to his previous sannyasa guru Kirtananda Maharaja stating that he has again taken up the sannyasa order given by him. Then I sent him to Katwa where Mahaprabhu took sannyasa. I sent him with Bhakti Caru Swami and Govinda Maharaja. After taking bath in the Ganges, he again took his former sannyasa dress at the place where Mahaprabhu took his sannyasa."
The GBC however could not tolerate this; especially they could not tolerate Jayatirtha Maharaja's lavish praise of Srila Sridhara Maharaja for uplifting him. Although they had personally requested just this thing themselves, they became extremely irritated at this point and objectively speaking their activities became irrational.
Following this, we see the GBC at its passionate worst. They decided that Jayatirtha Maharaja must "banish Sridhara Maharaja from his heart 100% or leave ISKCON." Jayatirtha was ready to compromise to the farthest extreme but the GBC would not even allow him his private thoughts. Jayatirtha Maharaja made the decision, that considering that he had come up from a very fallen condition and revived his spiritual position as a sannyasi by the sweet and potent preaching of Srila Sridhara Maharaja and considering that he had developed a genuine love and attachment in his heart, that he could not renounce his spiritual connection to reality. Instead, he renounced his very large share of ISKCON to stay with Srila Sridhara Maharaja, who remarked that the ideal represented by Jayatirtha Maharaja's surrender was very noble. At that time, the leaders captured three hundred odd of his disciples in a room and haranged them for hours, revealing his past deviations etc., deviations which they had themselves previously had kept hidden, "convincing" the disciples to give up their guru -- he had abandoned ISKCON, was falled, deviated. The disciples were then told that they had barely a few days to either be reinitiated immediately by one of the other ten gurus or else leave ISKCON. Srila Sridhara Maharaja remarked that they did not understand the principle of the guru-disciple relationship or they would not have so rudely, abruptly and forcefully severed these connections. Further he stated that their absolute power is a bad sign, that they did not show any signs of humility.
The activities and mentality of the GBC in this regard are somewhat unknown to the majority of devotees and further unknown are the feelings expressed by Srila Sridhara Maharaja and his followers,. We have presented four transcripts from March 5, 1982 and March 6, 1982 in Appendix H. These transcripts give us a pulse-beat of the activities transpiring at this time: The GBC forced Jayatirtha Maharaja to renounce any connection with Srila Sridhara Maharaja one hundred percent or leave ISKCON, they legislated that anyone associating with Srila Sridhara Maharaja is severed from ISKCON and any initiation by Srila Sridhara Maharaja must be given up if one wants to be part of ISKCON. All of this follows years of GBC siksa with Srila Sridhara Maharaja and the GBC's continued urgent personal requests to Srila Sridhara Maharaja to encourage, help and reinstate Jayatirtha Maharaja. That Jayatirtha subsequently again deviated does not detract from the truth of the above events. Srila Prabhupada was always ready to encourage his disciples. And encourage, Srila Sridhara Maharaja did time and time again.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja Severed
Srila Sridhara Maharaja replied very kindly to ISKCON's disconnection (11 January 1982):
Devotee: Martial law. Dictatorship, just like in Poland.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: No, not martial. They are not happy to do that. But on policy they are to do this for the time being, they are to test what effect it may have. They have some affection for me. But still, to save their institution from the present crisis, what they think like that, the present crisis, temporarily they are giving trial to this particular injunction.
Devotee: Temporary injunction.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: I think like that. I think like that.
Devotee: You are very gracious.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: They cannot forget me totally. The newcomers may think like that, but the older devotees that have seen me along with Swami Maharaja, there, it will be difficult for them to put such a rigid law between the two, for those older men have seen how intimately Swami Maharaja dealt with me. It will be very difficult for them, but still they have a policy to make a check.
Invited by Affections Force & Driven Out
At this time, March 5, 1982, Srila Sridhara Maharaja commented,
Swami Maharaja very earnestly invited me with affection and you are driving me out. Swami Maharaja had much affection for me, all throughout his whole life. He abused many of my godbrothers, but with the exception of me alone. And he asked me several times, that you are to look after them." "I was forcibly almost, by affection's force taken into the connection of ISKCON, and now, I am being driven out of ISKCON." "I give my good will, but I can't simply ditto their mandates." "I am invited by your Prabhupada in his last days and in my last days I am motivated by some mean interest?" "I differed from the GBC's opinion and they withdrew. Still I am their aloof well-wisher." "They are thousands of men on that side, and you are few: five, six or ten, twenty-five. And they are so much afraid of you? They have the spirit of conquering. No attitude of give and take learning. That, 'we may have to learn something yet.' They have finished their learning, and they are ready only to distribute their own hoarded wealth. Hare Krsna. Alright, He is there. ISKCON does not belong to their committee, but ISKCON ultimately belongs to Swami Maharaja, represents Swami Maharaja, in my opinion." "I see that they are digging their own grave. This is my sincere feeling, but this hurts, and it is objectionable to a certain extent. If they are ISKCON properly, they are promised to a particular ideal. So, deviation from that ideal, that is but a shadow of ISKCON, which was created and designed by Swami Maharaja. It is a very lamentable thing." "Those who are sincere, the victory will be with them: na hi kalyana krd kascid, durgatim tata gacchati. (Bg. 6.40) Kalyana means sincere to their purpose, not power-seeker; coercive nature, for the administration. Hare Krsna." "That will be an atomic bomb to their own disciples. This effect of changing the faith in their guru, of the acarya, will have reaction in the whole of ISKCON, and will shake the very foundation."
I Am Very Much Mortified
"Is it a play? What Swami Maharaja began there, is it a play? The acarya and the disciple, their relation; is it a fun? So lightly to be taken? What reaction will come on the other disciples? They can connect and disconnect in any way? And the charge was made by [ name of GBC guru ] to me, in the case of a single person. And there was such a great difference. And they are doing in a wholesale way, wholesale dealing. It is horrible to think of the future of ISKCON. I am going to faint to think of the future of ISKCON. Let the divine will guide us properly in our ways."
"I am am old man, I am tired, excited, I am very very sorry, (crying) really I say with folded palms that you are ill-treating me. I am very sorry. Swami Maharaja was so affectionate, I also treated with such affection to him. And rudely you are behaving towards me. I am very much mortified for that, but what can I do? I am a small man . . . "
Srila Sridhara Maharaja, mortified by their mistreatment of devotees and their many-fold abuses of himself, understanding their deviation from the spirit of Srila Prabhupada's ISKCON stated further that he wanted to break their misconceptions, that he more liked the spirit than the form -- that the underlying purpose of the society [which was not being upheld] was more important than the formal structure [which was there to serve this purpose]. Therefore he thought that the deviated form should be broken -- proper adjustments made. This statement that he was "a form-breaker" rather than a "form-maker" was distorted to imply that Srila Sridhara Maharaja simply wanted to destroy ISKCON. In actuality, he wanted to destroy the leader's deviations -- those deviations which are so well known to all of the older devotees-which were intolerable to so many devotees for so many many years. That this is true, is obvious when one studies the many transcripts of Sridhara Maharaja.
"I told them that I am a form breaker--sarva dharman parityaja mam ekam saranam vraja., deviations which they had themselves previously kept hidden, The dharma -- we should regard the form. But what form. You have left the form of the Christain mission. You have somehow left that to come to Swami Maharaja. Why? The material substance is not of real importance. Our importance is to the substance and the form is secondary. Perhaps the reality of this formality we shall try to preserve, but the substance is all imortant. Form is only important according to the substance it is carrying, according to that."
On May 15, 1982 Srila Sridhara Maharaja said, "the GBC is necessary but not whimsical dictations and narrow views." In this regard, Srila Prabhupada stated, "Anyone who has got some power, he must know that 'this power is given by Krsna unto me, and to execute His will, not my sense gratification.' Otherwise it will be a burden, and he will be finished." [ 720618SB.LA ]
Earlier, on January 11, 1982, Srila Sridhara Maharaja had said, "Organization is good of course if it is prepared to render service cent percent to the real principle. That we should remember. Otherwise it is a burden."
Acyutananda dasa, one of the first disciples of Srila Prabhupada, in a letter to the Gaudiya in 1994 wrote, "Regarding sects-I was present (at 26 2nd Ave.) when Srila Prabhupada received the documents that certified ISKCON as a registered, tax-exempt society. 'We are not attached to any organization,' he said. 'It is an instrument we will use and if it becomes troublesome we will dissolve it and go on chanting Hare Krsna.'"
ISKCON: Kanistha Society
Earlier, in chapter five we presented excerpts from Ravindra Svarupa's paper entitled, Ending the Fratricidal War, wherein he substantiates that ISKCON is a kanistha-adhikari society. Therefore the leaders, "due to spiritual immaturity identify spiritual advancement with organizational advancement. Although they know and intend better, the leaders of ISKCON repeatedly find themselves, to their dismay, involved in highly immature patterns of relationships with others. This anomolous situation can only be attributed to an inheritance from the past." Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu repeated in February of 1995 his statement of 1985, that ISKCON is a kanistha-adhikary society. And kanisthas will do what kanisthas are supposed to do. That is, their activities will be of a lower quality, perhaps even detrimental to their own spiritual lives.
It is rather amazing to see the power of maya's covering potency, that even after so many years, the majority of devotees who are critical of the ISKCON administration are critical also of Srila Sridhara Maharaja based on the propaganda of these same leaders of ISKCON that they are critical of, many of when have left in disgrace (as a reaction, in our opinion, to their offensive behavior toward Srila Sridhara Maharaja). Few realize that the predominate reason for the ISKCON leaders generating so much heavy and offensive propaganda against Srila Sridhara Maharaja is that he represented a threat against the leaders' unbridled improper activities and not a threat against ISKCON proper. Srila Sridhara Maharaja was heavily blasphemed from the vyasasana and with papers widely distributed by the GBC.
After all was said and done, many years later when we met Srila Sridhara Maharaja in March of 1987 he expressed the same sentiments that he has consistently expressed for years, that he was proud of Srila Prabhupada's accomplishments and that he was unhappy that ISKCON stalwarts have fallen, that the ISKCON leaders "misunderstand" him and ISKCON couldn't have been helped more. Srila Sridhara Maharaja then proceeded to fill our ears with the sweetest and most nectarean Krsna-katha.
Stalwarts Going Down
I am not happy seeing the condition that [name] Maharaja, that [name] Maharaja -- stalwarts are going down. We are so proud of his [Prabhupada's] uncommon, extraordinary activity. In a lifetime I have had experience. A really great sock not only to ISKCON, but to the preaching mission of the West of Sri Chaitanya cult. A setback. One who has got faith and love for Mahaprabhu and our Guru Maharaja. Swami Maharaja means that; Swami Maharaja means our Guru Maharaja, Mahaprabhu, Nityananda. One who can read deeply, he will see it like that. Like that . . . Gouranga Sacisuta . . . All sincere Vaisnaivite that live in India, they felt proud, especially those who have got faith in Krsna-lila, in Srimad-Bhagavatam -- the very gist of the whole Vedic truth . . . veda sarva veda mata , the Mother of Veda is gayatri. All these pure words contain the whole . . . Gayatri vatsa rupa also -- I have given that out. It all goes to Krsna-lila. Because the supreme conception of anandam-rasam pleasure, happiness, that is in Krsna-lila . . .
The clear instructions of Srila Sridhara Maharaja in regards to Gurus, godbrothers, disciples, guru worship, and proper vaisnava etiquette amongst all were received by the GBC seemingly in good faith, were partly implemented, partly ignored and later used as an excuse in the GBC's rejection of Srila Sridhara Maharaja. In the end ISKCON followed much of the same advice given by Srila Sridhara Maharaja without giving him credit.
After consultation with Srila Sridhara Maharaja in March of 1978 [Full transcript is given in Appendix C], a paper was presented as the official statement of the GBC, The Process for Carrying out Srila Prabhupada's Desires for Future Initiations, (A paper prepared by the GBC in consultation with higher authorities, March 1978). We present this document in Appendix D, GBC Statement on Guru ~ March 1978. A careful study of this document and the transcript of the GBC's question and answer session with Srila Sridhara Maharaja from which the essence of this GBC position paper was derived reveals many interesting points.
From the impartial viewpoint, tatastha vicar, we cannot but recognize Srila Sridhara Maharaja's high connection with divinity. Without any doubt he is a very very dear servant to Krsna's dearest. He is substantially there-based on his deep understanding of siddhanta and Krsna consciousness, his wonderful qualities and high praise by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta, Srila Prabhupada, Niskincana Krsna Dasa Babaji Maharaja, Srila Bhakti Promod Puri Maharaja, and hosts of other advanced Vaisnavas. We have presented numerous quotes and relative information to substantiate the extremely elevated position of Srila Sridhara Maharaja in chapter one: A Transcendental Friendship. Based on this consideration alone one can conclude that those who have offended him are in a very difficult position spiritually.
The example is given of Ramacanda Puri, who disregarded his guru and as a result was rejected by him. This further caused him to criticize many exalted Vaisnavas and he ended up blaspheming the Supreme Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu Himself. Thus the stern warning is there that this path leads to a fatal end for the devotee.
The incident of Daksa's offense to Maharaja Ambarisa illustrates the severity of vaisnava-aparadha. In this regard, the Lord Himself states that, "One's so-called prowess, when employed against the devotee, cetainly harms he who employs it. Thus it is the subject not the object who is harmed." ( Bhag. 9.4.69 )
The example of Daksa can especially be cited. Although he apologized to Lord Siva for his offense to him, nevertheless it is cited in the Vedas that appparently it was not done with proper remorse as he was forced by virtue of this offense to commit further vaisnava-aparadha to Narada Muni eons later in another manvantara-the disease of aparadha remained in Daksa's heart and resurfaced as an offense to the lotus feet of Sri Narada Muni.
Even in the mundane world one who slanders another must retract the slander in the same form that it was given [which we see has not even been attempted], what to speak of an offense to an exalted Vaisnava, which automatically includes, in the case of Srila Sridhara Maharaja-sadhu-ninda (to Srila Sridhara Maharaja as an exalted Vaisnava), guru-aparadha to Srila Prabhupada (acting against Srila Prabhupada's instructions in regards to Srila Sridhara Maharaja and mistreating his intimate friend), guru-aparadha to Srila Sridhara Maharaja (having accepted Srila Sridhara Maharaja as siksa-guru and then rejected him), sastra-ninda to Srila Sridhara Maharaja's books, and vaisnava-aparadha to so many additional associated Vaisnavas. In addition, those responsible for setting the ongoing institutional aparadha in motion are directly responsible for all aparadha committed as a result of this. Indeed the Caitanya-caritamrta Antya-lila 3.164 states:
mahantera apamana ye desa-grame haya
eka janara dose saba desa ujadaya
"Whenever an advanced devotee is insulted, for one man's fault the entire town or place is devastated-everyone in connection with him will suffer."
Further, it is written,
"The most sacred asembly looses its sanctity and religiosity with the slightest Vaishnava-ninda. And even a powerful assembly of sannyasis becomes bereft of religious purity if they indulge in Vaishnava-ninda. In fact a drunkard's party is better than such an unholy assembly. A despicable drunk has still a chance someday to be excused for his unrighteousness, but a Vaishnava offender is bound for abysmal damnation." (Chaitanya Bhavavata, Madhya-lila 13.39-43)
In The Heart of Krsna Srila Puri Maharaja writes,
"If a person witnesses an offense to a pure Vaishnava, he must vehemently protest. If he is unable to do so, with deep regret he must leave the place at once and cut off all connection with the offender. We must never minimize the seriousness of vaishnava-aparadha. Neither should we attempt to defend the offender on the basis of mundane considerations, as this will destroy our spiritual progress and even our material well-being."
Blasphemy Must be Undone With Interest
Srila Bhakti Promod Puri Maharaja states in his book The Heart of Krsna, that "In spite of seeing and hearing about the fatal consequences of offending the Supreme Lord or the devotees, people refuse to become enlightened about it--such is the fearsome cloud of illusion that maya creates to delude everyone."
A Vaisnava easily forgives offenses, however the dust of his feet does not. Srila Sridhara Maharaja when apologized to by Radhanatha Maharaja of New Vrndavana started to cry and and showing genuine Vaisnava humility said, "You have not committed an offense to me." When other devotees approached him he always gave similar answers, exhibiting extreme Vaishnava humility-that they could not offend him since he was not a Vaisnava etc.
From the example of Gadadhara Pandit and Pundarika-total surrender and initiation-what to speak of Daksa-surrender and remorse but not full repentance, we see the type of sincere and deep remorse that is actually necessary to become free of the heinous effects of vaisnava-aparadha. Offenses must not only be undone but undone with interest-that is, one must make a real and substantial effort to correct the damage done, to clarify publicly any misconception or misinformation.
The GBC's improper attitude in regards to Srila Sridhara Maharaja is indicated by their GBC resolution that Srila Sridhara Maharaja is a revered and pure Vaisnava but it is not allowed for anyone associated with ISKCON to associate with him. This is contradictory. We understand that their intention is that, they wish to maintain the stigma they have created towards Srila Sridhara Maharaja and also try to excape the reaction for this offensive attitude. Some apology has been given officially and individually yet we see that the offensive attitude of most devotees in ISKCON toward Srila Sridhara Maharaja has not changed.
That we cannot maintain a stigma and at the same avoid aparadha is also indicative that this very idea is against the basic principles of spiritual life-it attempts to impede the spiritual flow. This indicates an anomaly somewhere along the line, and we hope that having read this far, our readers have understood the self-evident truth, that the fault in all of this lies with the GBC and their many mistakes cannot be blamed on Srila Sridhara Maharaja. Many of their policies to this day seem to oppose the very nature of the descending spiritual flow-srota pantha. Therefore we venture to say that the apologies have little meaning. In consideration of Vaisnava history and sastric evidence regarding the effects of vaishnava-aparadha, the future of ISKCON is dire. This premise, as enunciated by Srila Sridhara Maharaja, we have presented earlier.
That apologies were in fact insubstantial has also been stated by Somaka Maharaja in his paper, In Search of Harmony:
At the time this tatastha question [ Origin and Bondage of the Jiva ] came out, there was a newsletter distributed everywhere stating that the idea that we are coming from Brahman is mayavada philosophy and also all kinds of offenses against H. H. B. R. Sridhara Maharaja were broadcast, but the apologies to Sridhara Maharaja were not at all publicized, and the tatastha question was just left in oblivion." Not only were the apologies not publicized but that they were not actually sincere and heartfelt is illustrated by the fact that the offenses were continued after apologies were made for previous offenses.
Show Bottle Reform
Somaka Maharaja continues:
I am quoting this case just to prove that the reform of our movement has not begun yet. In 1987 due to the pressure exerted, some mistakes were admitted, but not publicly and things weren't very widely presented, just some new GBCs were made, and some new gurus and that's all. There was no real change of heart. For example in 1987 the zonal acarya thing was recognized to be a mistake. The 'eleven guru only and no more' system was recognized as a mistake, but then why not have a commission of GBCs going to every temple and admit openly all the mistakes? And why not immediately approach all the devotees that have separated and gone away just because of these mistakes and beg pardon from them and invite them back? On the contrary they are still called enemies and are called all sorts of names. So actually there was no real reform, only a show bottle reform; get some of the dissatisfied and opposing men into the group [and thereby shut them up] and that's all. Real reform will appear when a preacher that is working hard in a place to get the movement established and to make devotees and spread Krsna consciousness will be recognized as the GBC for that area, not that there are GBC with enormous zone that they can't control and somebody else is doing all the hard work. Please do not take this as an offense, just try to see that our movement is becoming stagnant due to so much centralization and 'power-trips.'
Serious Questions, Serious Answers
January 2, 1982:
"You are all serious talkers, not childish. Serious talkers. You are engaging me in serious talk. My center of interest is Mahaprabhu anyhow. And Mahaprabhu has taken me to my Guru Maharaja."
Srila Sridhara Maharaja's policy for any serious question was to ask each devotee involved what was his perspective-what he saw as the problem, then he would give several sastric references, relate episodes from the Vedas of similar occurrances, take into consideration his experience as more than fifty years as a sannyasi during the whole Gaudiya Math history, then he would offer his advise based on all of the above. Manytimes he said that an all encompassing solution was not possible in such a grand and expansive society as ISKCON, therefore they should go with fair feeling and adjust as time dictates. Manytimes he issued warnings and much of his advice (from the very beginning) was that the GBC maintain the spiritual characteristic by doing such things as expanding the number of initiating gurus, giving proper respect to the godbrothers of the gurus, evolving the excessive guru worship to a more reasonable standard and sometimes stating that adjustments will have to be made as time reveals new aspects of a problem. All these advices along with the many complaints of the godbrothers were ignored by the GBC year after year, until they finally had no choice but were forced by circumstances to deal with them.
So many questions were asked of Srila Sridhara Maharaja and he patiently answered them all, yet noticed that manytimes the devotees only interest was to pocket the answers to be used later to show their expertise in the philosophy. Several godbrothers in ISKCON have told us personally that Srila Sridhara Maharaja's lucid explanations of the Gaudiya siddhanta in his books and talks greatly improved their ability to give classes, but "of course I couldn't tell where I received this spiritual boost."
It is almost impossible to be released from the consequences of vaisnava-aparadha. Without feeling deep remorse, and without surrendering at the feet of the offended devotee, one can never be forgiven. Without such forgiveness, the goal of life is lost. It is our understanding that due to the insincere apologies and continued institutionalized vaishnava-aparadha to Srila Sridhara Maharaja that ISKCON is forced to again and again commit offenses to Vaishnavas. We have only to study the stories of Daksa or Ramacandra Puri to understand the very unfortunate significance of these acts.
Atonement-Our Only Respite
We suggest that since Srila Sridhara Maharaja is no longer physically present, devotees who are burdoned by their offenses to Srila Sridhara Maharaja should sincerely repent their offenses with deep remorse and pray for the Lord's mercy. They should make a public statement in print clearly expressing their heartfelt sentiments, recognizing that forgiveness for their offenses will be proportional to the actual inner sincerity of their repentance and admittance of the truth. Further, relief will also depend upon the effectiveness of this public statement in terms of its correcting the offensive mentality in so many devotees minds towards Srila Sridhara Maharaja. They should then take shelter of the holy names of Sri Sri Gaura-Nityananda and pray continuously for forgiveness. It goes without saying that they should avoid all future offenses and avoid the association of those who continue their offensive attitude. A revised style of management is suggested so as to minimize reoccurance of further incidents of offensive activities.
Our Affectionate Guardians: Conclusion
Our intention has not been to cause our godbrothers unnecessary embarassment, but for the sake of clarifying certain vital points it has been necessary in certain instances to give as complete an explanation as possible. It is self-evident that this has been done in good taste. We are painfully aware of unlimited embarassing facts and downright nasty activities in great detail-given only cursory mention within this book [names, dates, etc.], but find no purpose in stating them herein, other than sensationalism and causing unnecessary pain to the disciples of the parties involved. We hope that our presentation is accurate, such that we cannot be accused of being a "gober Ganesh" [a false scribe made of cow dung].
Those who are not aware of the sequence of events which are clarified within this presentation may question the necessity of this book -- that ISKCON management has changed-things are better now. While we agree that some changes have been made, both individually and collectively, the present situation of degeneration in ISKCON indicates that more substantial reform is necessary. We feel strongly that the institutional aparadha must be given serious consideration, otherwise internal substantial change for the better cannot occur nor can devotees individually make proper advancement being burdoned by the effects of this aparadha. We also hope that this presentation will encourage devotees in their Krsna consciousness. Unfortunately, Vaishnava-aparadha, when perpetrated, must act, and it must act with serious consequences. No sincere devotee dares to ignore this. We refer the readers to the previous chapter entitled, Aparadha, The Vaisnava's Greatest Enemy.
One of our objectives in compiling this book is to hopelessly entangle our 'godbrothers' in the higher philosophical conclusions of Krsna consciousness. Krsna, after all is the greatest thief, makhan-cora, and He will steal His way into our hearts, even unwillingly.
siddhanta baliya citte na kara alasa
"A sincere student should not neglect the discussion of such conclusions, considering them controversial, for such discussions strengthen the mind. Thus one's mind becomes attached to Krsna." ( Cc. Adi-lila 2.117 )
In this way the true glory of our Srila Prabhupada -- all that he stands for -- and similarly the glory of his dearmost intimate friend Srila Sridhara Maharaja will become more fully manifest in the hearts of the Vaisnavas and non-Vaisnavas alike. This can only result in an increase of Krsna consciousness and a decrease of activities and behavior detrimental to the same. Those with a lower standard of faith perhaps will be disturbed by the many previously undisclosed siddhantic points and historical facts, yet if we are to progress in Krsna consciousness we cannot neglect nor avoid these things, as the above verse testifies. Srila Prabhupada stressed that the more we understand the siddhanta, the more faithful we will be to Krsna.
So, you have to study God. Not that we accept anybody and anything, no. Siddhanta baliya citte na kara alasa. Don't be lazy to understand God. The more you understand, the more you become a devotee. [760808R2.TEH]
It is not blind following. Krsna consciousness is not a sentiment. It is backed by knowledge and practical [realized] knowledge (Bg 9.1): jnanam vijnanam sahitam. [680911BG.SF]
And in Srila Prabhupada's purport to Bg 4.34, the well known tad viddhi-pranipatena verse about the process of surrender to the spiritual master, we find,
In this verse both blind following and absurd inquiries are condemned.
We are not asking, nor do we expect our godbrothers to accept Srila Sridhara Maharaja as their siksa guru, we only humbly request that they maintain a positive non-offensive understanding, and thereby allow us and interested devotees to do so and thereby increase the quality of our service to Srila Prabhupada. We hope that, recognizing the purity of Srila Sridhara Maharaja's siksa and the misapplication of the same by motivated persons, many of the ongoing problems will be alleviated. We pray that all may have learned valuable lessons from the many mistakes made by each and every one of us. This is a basic principle of the dynamics of Krsna consciousness -we always do ourselves a great disservice by trying to mandate affairs of the heart. We also admit that just as Visnupriya devi charmed even the hearts of the most envious by her extreme rununciation after Sri Chaitanya's sannyasa, that in presenting so many charming excerpts of Srila Sridhara Maharaja herein we hope to charm the hearts of even those who hitherto have not recognized his glorious and invaluable contribution.
We are hoping that the illumination provided herein as to the supramundane position of the Guardian of Devotion of the Rupanuga sampradaya, Srila Sridhara Maharaja, will clear the many misunderstandings surrounding him and individually and collectively we may realize our grievous offenses to such a very dear devotee of Srimati Radharani and Lord Krsna. In this regard, we are reminded of a wonderful sloka composed by Srila Sridhara Maharaja:
nilambhodhi-tate sada sva-viraha-ksepanvitam bandhavam
"On the shore of the broad blue ocean, Gadadhara Pandita used to read Srimad-Bhagavatam to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who was suffering from the great internal pain of separation from Himself (Krsna). Gadadhara Pandita supplied the wine of krsna-lila to intoxicate his afflicted friend and give him relief. As he read, tears would fall from his eyes like flower offerings onto the pages of Srimad-Bhagavatam. May the pleasure of that brilliant personality, Gadadhara Pandita, the best of the Goswamis, be my only object in writing this book."
We also feel a deep pain in our hearts, but it is the pressing pain of sorrow that such a noble and grand personality -- who tirelessly and patiently helped us with invaluable guidance in so many's hour of need, though he was rudely treated at every step -- has been caused so much unnecessary pain. In the writing of this book we are also offering our tears thousands of times at the feet of the divine personages glorified herein, hoping that some relief will be afforded for the devotees who are (in many cases unknowingly) suffering the reactions for the many unfortunate offenses committed.
We are humbly hoping that this small offering unto the lotus feet of the Vaisnavas will help extinguish the smouldering anarthas of aparadha, so that we can all concentrate on the preaching of Krsna consciousness proper. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura has said: jagate eka matra hari-katha-durviksa chad'a ara kona durviksa nai--that in this world there is no shortage of anything except Krsna consciousness. Srila Prabhupada has also said that the only thing which can stop his grand preaching movement is fighting amongst ourselves, which was unfortunately witnessed by His Divine Grace personally,
Now this displeasing of godbrothers has already begun and gives me too much agitation in my mind. Our Gaudiya Math people fought with one another after the demise of Guru Maharaja but my disciples have already begun fighting even in my presence. So I am greatly concerned about it. (Srila Prabhupada Letter to Kirtanananda, 18 Oct. 1973)
To the GBC we humbly request, please do not misunderstand this presentation as a challenge to ISKCON's authority, requiring yet another offense in retaliation, generating further offenses. That is not our intention, nor certainly is it in your best interests. Our presentation is strong in many ways for the express purpose of righting the wrong -- which is always more difficult. This is a difficult task but if the devotees in general are aware of many essential truths regarding Srila Sridhara Maharaja's actual glorious position, we feel strongly that they will not be able to ignore it nor wish to continue attacking it, and will be the better for it. We hope that many devotees upon understanding their offenses can then follow the proper course of action and free themselves from a hellish fate.
History has shown that most of the leaders of ISKCON are not at all interested in the topics contained herein and would much rather ignore the entire subject, or worse, attack a presentation such as this and in the process commit many more offenses. We would like to humbly point out that due to the many lingering and self perpetuating institutionalized offenses to Srila Sridhara Maharaja it is not in the best interest of ISKCON to do so, for one who has not fully amended his vaisnava-aparadha can never achieve Krsna. This is confirmed by Vrndavana dasa Thakura in Chaitanya-Bhagavat, Madhya 22.8,
vaisnavera thani ya're haya aparadha krsna-krpa hoileo tare prema-badha,
"If a person commits an offense at the lotus feet of a Vaisnava, even though he may have received Krsna's mercy, he will never attain divine love, prema."
We place this offering before the Vaisnavas, scholars, aspirants--whomever is a seeker.