When Srila Prabhupada originally started ISKCON, he was very willing to undertake his mission in co-operation with his godbrothers. However, they were all envious of his success, and neglected all of his requests for help. As if that were not enough, they also did their utmost to disrupt his efforts in whatever way they could, for instance, by poisoning the minds of his disciples against him and reinitiating them. That they acted in the way they did is hardly surprising, in consideration of the fact that they had directly and deliberately disobeyed the instructions of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati. Against his wishes they elected an acarya after his departure. Not only that, but none of them ever followed his instructions to go and preach in the west. Srila Prabhupada's final instructions to his disciples with regard to his Godbrothers was to have nothing further to do with any of them.
Sounds familiar? During the time that I spent living in a temple, from what I heard from other devotees, this was, more or less, the impression that I had of Srila Prabhupada's Godbrothers and the Gaudiya math. However, after having done some research on the subject, I began to recognise how complex an issue it was, and that my previous understanding had been simplistic and misinformed.
The reader is no doubt familiar with many of the negative comments Srila Prabhupada had to make about his Godbrothers. However, he praised them on numerous occasions too:
"I am very glad to know that Ananda prabhu is staying with you, please offer my dandavats. He is my old Godbrother, sincere Vaisnava. Please treat him like your father. Do remain in full co-operation." (S.P. letter 6/5/'73)
"So if you are actually serious to take instructions from a siksa guru, I can refer you to one who is most highly competent of all my god-brothers. 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...When I was in India, Acyutananda, Ramanuja, and myself, with others, lived with Sridhara Maharaja, so Acyutananda knows him very well. He spared a big house for us and if both of you go there now, it will be very good for your spiritual benefit. Then I will feel that you are safe. Besides that, if you wish to live in India, you can make arrangements for this house so that other of your god-brothers may go there in the future." (Letter to Hrsikesa, 69-01-09)Srila Prabhupada apparently intended his disciples' association with Srila Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Maharaja to be of a more long term variety.
In the following, Srila Prabhupada again makes the immense love and respect that he felt for his exalted godbrother very clear. More pointedly, he says that his association with Srila Sridhara Maharaja was arranged by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta and Krsna in order to help prepare him for the great mission he was later to undertake. However, perhaps most significantly of all, he states that he wanted to make Srila Sridhara Maharaja the head of ISKCON:
"So when we came back to Allahabad, so Ganesa Babu, he introduced me, that "Here is a nice devotee." So Prabhupada immediately replied, "Yes, I have marked him. He does not go away, he hears." This (indistinct), "Yes, I will accept him as disciple." Then I was initiated. In this way our relationship with Gaudiya Matha developed, and gradually as it developed, the other side diminished. Then, there are long history, it will take time, but I had the opportunity of associating with His Holiness. For several years I had the opportunity. Krsna and Prabhupada liked it to prepare me. Sridhara Maharaja lived as a...Unfortunately, the above quote is not included in some, if not all of the Prabhupada databases, but, if the reader is interested, I will happily send them the whole conversation.)
Sridhara Maharaja: (indistinct)
Prabhupada: (laughs) ...in my house, some may say, a few years, so naturally we had very intimate talks and he was my good adviser. I took his advice, his instruction very seriously, because from the very beginning I know he's a pure Vaisnava and devotee, and I wanted to associate with him, and try to help him also in so many ways. He also tried to help me, so our relationship is very intimate. After the breakdown of the Gaudiya Matha, I wanted to organize another organization, making Sridhara Maharaja head." (Room Conversation, Mayapur, March 17, 1973)
Speaking of his sannyasa guru, Srila Prabhupada says:
"So I am feeling very much obliged to my, this godbrother, that he carried out the wish of my spiritual master and forced me to accept the sannyasa order. This godbrother, H.H. Kesava Maharaja is no more. He has entered Krsna's abode So I wish to pass a resolution of bereavement and send them. And I have composed one verse also in this connection in Sanskrit.....so I did not want to accept this sannyasa order, but this godbrother forced me 'you must.' apayayan mam, he forcefully made me drink this medicine...the Vaisnavas, the spiritual master, they forcefully say 'you drink this medicine.' You see apayayan mam anabhipsu ardham Sri-Kesava-bhakti prajana-nama. So this my Godbrother, his name is Kesava, Bhaktiprajnan Kesava. Krpambudhi. So he did this favour upon me because he was ocean of mercy. So we offer our obeisances to Vaisnava, krpambudhi. Vancha-kalpa-tarubhyas ca krpa-sindhubhya eva ca. The Vaisnavas, the representatives of the Lord, they are so kind. They bring the ocean of mercy for distributing to the suffering humanity. Krpambudhir yas tam aham prapadye. So I am offering my respectful obeisances unto this His Holiness, because he forcefully made me adopt this sannyasa order. So he is no more in this world. He has entered Krsna's abode. So I am offering my respectful obeisances along with my disciples...We are writing like this, "Resolved that we the undersigned members and devotees of International Society for Krishna Consciousness Incorporated, in a condolence meeting under the presidency of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, today the 21st of October, 1968, at our Seattle branch, express our profound bereavement on hearing the passing of His Divine Grace Om Visnupada Sri Srimad Bhaktiprajnan Kesava Gosvami Maharaja, the sannyasa guru, preceptor of our spiritual master, and on October 6th, 1968, at his headquarter residence in Nabadwip, West Bengal. We offer our respectful obeisances unto the lotus feet of Sri Srimad Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja with the following verse composed on this occasion by our spiritual master." This verse I have already explained to you. So I wish that you all sign this and I'll send it tomorrow by air mail." (21st October '68, condolence lecture, Seattle)
"The cult of Caitanya philosophy is richer than any other, and it is admitted to be the living religion of the day with the potency for spreading as visva-dharma, or universal religion. We are glad that the matter has been taken up by some enthusiastic sages like Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Maharaja and his disciples. We shall eagerly wait for the happy days of Bhagavata-dharma, or prema-dharma, inaugurated by the Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu." (Srimad-Bhagavatam: Introduction)
"In the same order as Kardama Muni, about one hundred years ago, Thakura Bhaktivinoda also wanted to beget a child who could preach the philosophy and teachings of Lord Caitanya to the fullest extent. By his prayers to the Lord he had as his child Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Maharaja, who at the present moment is preaching the philosophy of Lord Caitanya throughout the entire world through his bona fide disciples." Srimad-Bhagavatam Canto 3: Chapter Twenty-two, Text 20Not only did Srila Prabhupada sometimes praise his godbrothers, but on one occasion even blessed one of his harinama disciples to take diksa from one of them:
"Please accept my humble obeisances at your lotus feet. I understand from the letter of Asita das that he has gone to your place in Jagannatha Puri. He has asked permission from me for taking initiation from you. I have given him my permission and you can initiate him if you like so that he may increase his devotional service there." Letter to: Sripada Madhava Maharaja : 75-01-14 Bombay
"If you want to take initiation from Madhava Gosvami Maharaja I have no objection." Letter to: Asita das : 75-01-10 BombayNevertheless, despite praising individuals, Srila Prabhupada also made many negative statements about his godbrothers too. In the following he states:
"We shall be very careful about them and not mix with them. This is my instruction to you all. They cannot help us in our movement, but they are very competent to harm our natural progress. So we must be very careful about them." (Letter to Rupanuga Maharaja, 74-04-28, Tirupati)However, Srila Prabhupada's final instructions with regard to his godbrothers were very different. Literally days before passing away, he formed the "Bhaktivedanta Swami Charity Trust", one of the purposes of which was to link up again with the Gaudiya Math devotees, and to work with them on a co-operative basis. The statement of purpose for the Trust in this regard, reads as follows:
"In keeping with the spirit of the previous acarya's vision of Gaudiya-Madhva sampradaya, to cement relations with all the sister temples of Gaudiya-Madhva sampradaya under one banner, to solidify preaching the message of Caitanya Mahaprabhu, as desired by His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada and Srila Thakura Bhaktivinoda and all the previous acaryas in this line." (Room Conversation, Vrindaban, October 29, 1977, 771029RC.VRN)Srila Prabhupada did not stop at merely instructing his disciples, but he went so far as to directly involve his own godbrothers, by appointing two of them onto the Trust's five man governing board:
Bhavananda: With bookstand. Prabhupada has formed a trust, the Bhaktivedanta Swami Charity Trust, and its purpose is to develop Gauda-mandala-bhumi. Prabhupada's one idea is to build this darsana-mandapa at the yoga-pitha. And another is to finish Sridhara Maharaja's darsana-mandapa at his..., like that, to develop the different..., to encourage co-operation between the different Godbrothers in the temples. The members of the trust are myself and Tamala Krsna Maharaja and Giriraja, Svarupa Damodara, myself, Madhava Maharaja and Madhusudana Maharaja. Prabhupada named those members.Srila Prabhupada was also willing for ISKCON funds to be used to erect buildings on the property of his godbrothers, and even for printing their literature:
Prabhupada: How do you think the idea?
Jayapataka: All of your ideas, Srila Prabhupada, are perfect. I am not someone to offer opinion. But if you ask, I think that actually, especially the yoga-pitha, natha-mandira, that's a very dynamic idea, and in general it must do good.
Prabhupada: We want co-operation.
(Room conversation, Vrndavana, 6 November 1977)
Tamala Krsna: Yes, I think the general is already covered by this Mayapura-Vrndavana Trust committee. That's for all of India. And Gauda-mandala-bhumi is especially for encouraging the development of Gaudiya Vaisnavism in that area--Sridhara Maharaja's natha-mandira, this Yoga-pitha Bhaktivedanta Hall. Different buildings. Supposing one of your Godbrothers may have written some manuscript, he has no money. We can print some books for him so he can sell them, like that, works within the Mayapura area.So although Srila Prabhupada did make many negative statements about the Gaudiya Math and his godbrothers, he made many positive ones too, and his last words show unequivocally what policy he wanted to be followed.
Prabhupada: That we shall fix up, what to spend.
Tamala Krsna: The Bhaktivedanta Swami Charity trustees would fix that up?
Tamala Krsna: Yes.
Prabhupada: All right.
It can sometimes be quite confusing when an acarya makes seemingly contradictory statements. Why did Srila Prabhupada appear to do so on this particular topic? For the simple reason that, by necessity, acaryas must teach their disciples in terms of time, place and circumstance:
"It is the concern of the acarya to show mercy to the fallen souls. In this connection, desa-kala-patra (the place, the time and the object) should be taken into consideration." (Adi 7.38)
"The Vedas instruct us that knowledge must always be considered in terms of desa-kala-patra. Desa means 'circumstances,' kala means 'time,' and patra means 'the object.' We must understand everything by taking these three elements into consideration." (Life Comes from Life: The First Morning Walk April 18, 1973)The principle of changing the divine message out of consideration of desa-kala-patra by the acarya may also take quite extreme forms, such as those practiced by Sankaracarya and Lord Buddha. As a deliberate preaching strategy, they taught false doctrines to their disciples, for the purpose of uplifting them. This principle even applies to vaisnava acaryas too:
"These are the secrets of the acaryas. Sometimes they conceal the real purpose of the vedas and explain the Vedas in a different way. Sometimes they enunciate a different theory just to bring the atheists under their control." Madhya-lila 25.42Therefore we can understand that Srila Prabhupada's apparently contrary statements about his godbrothers were also part of a necessary preaching strategy. However, he also cautioned us that although in his preaching a vaisnava may make strictly relative statements, that it is nevertheless the responsibility of those hearing him to be careful to extract the true essence of his message:
"Vaisnava who is preaching, it may be in a different way, according to time and place and the party. They have to change something, desa-kala-patra. *But we have to see the essence.*" Prabhupada's Lectures Srimad-Bhagavatam 1974 741008SB.MAYAs Srila Prabhupada had so many godbrothers, their interaction with him and his disciples was a complex and potentially volatile situation. Certainly, a number of his godbrothers were enviously working against him, and he needed to safeguard his young disciples, many of whom wouldn't have been able to discriminate between the qualified and unqualified. Besides that, he was physically present as their diksa and siksa guru, for which reason there was no need for them to go outside of the society he had created. Therefore, safer for him to say: "none of you see them." Also, as an acarya, it was his duty to criticise and decry those activities of his godbrothers which were deviant, for the sake of teaching the proper standard to his disciples. Again, however, these statements were relative to desa-kala-patra, and cannot be used to definitively portray his ultimate stance towards his godbrothers, when put in perspective with everything else he had to say on the subject.
"The essence of devotional service must be taken into consideration, and not the outward paraphernalia." Madhya-lila: Chapter Twenty-three, Text 105
When one reads Srila Prabhupada's definitions of and statements about ISKCON, then it becomes easier to understand why ultimately he was willing to involve his godbrothers within it. According to what he says, ISKCON appears to extend considerably beyond its physical manifestation, i.e. the temples and communities, and their attendant management structures. It is non-sectarian, and is prepared to embrace the world, just as its founder was. The name itself says it all: a society for Krsna consciousness. To the extent that you're Krsna conscious, you belong:
"ISKCON (the International Society of Krishna Consciousness) is a non-lucrative organisation, whose purpose is to promote the well-being of human society by drawing its attention to God. We are a non-sectarian society, and our members include people from Christian, Jewish and Moslem as well as Hindu faiths. The aim of ISKCON is not to found a new religious sect, but to invoke the living entity's dormant love of God, and thus provide the human society of all faiths with a common platform of clear theistic knowledge and practice. Members of ISKCON may retain their own respective religious faiths, as ISKCON is meant to establish a clear, practical common formulation of the common ideal of all theists, and to defeat the unnecessary dogmatic wranglings that now divide and invalidate the theistic camp. This common ideal of theism is to develop love of God." (Letter to: ****** : 68-08-24 Montreal)Srila Prabhupada's non-sectarian stance is also demonstrated in the following, wherein he implies that pure transcendental association is not confined solely within the four walls of the ISKCON institution:
"A devotee sees all living entities with spiritual vision and does not discriminate on the platform of the bodily concept of life. Such qualities develop only in the association of devotees. Without the association of devotees, one cannot advance in Krsna consciousness. Therefore, we have established the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. Factually, whoever lives in this society automatically develops Krsna consciousness." Srimad-Bhagavatam Canto 4: Chapter Twelve, Text 37
"This Krsna consciousness movement is a transcendental science, and there is no room for jealousy. This movement is meant for the paramahamsas who are completely free from all jealousy (paramam nirmatsaranam)." Nectar of Instruction: Text Six
"The Hare Krsna movement is meant for those who are serious about understanding this science. There's no question of our being some sectarian group. No. Anyone can join. Students in college can be admitted. You may be a Christian, you may be a Hindu, you may be a Muhammadan--it doesn't matter. The Krsna consciousness movement admits anyone who wants to understand the science of God." (Science of Self Realization: Chapter One :Learning the Science of the Self)
"Just by pouring water on the root of a tree, one nourishes its trunk and all of its branches, fruits and flowers, and just by supplying food to the stomach, one satisfies all the limbs of the body. Similarly, by worshiping Lord Visnu one can satisfy everyone." Krsna consciousness is not a sectarian religious movement. Rather, it is meant for all-embracing welfare activities for the world. One can enter this movement without discrimination in terms of caste, creed, religion or nationality. If one is trained to worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna, who is theorigin of visnu-tattva, one can become fully satisfied and perfect in all respects." Srimad-Bhagavatam Canto 8: Chapter Five, Text 49
"Bhagavata-dharma has no contradictions. Conceptions of "your religion" and "my religion" are completely absent from bhagavata-dharma. Bhagavata-dharma means following the orders given by the Supreme Lord, Bhagavan, as stated in Bhagavad-gita: sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja. God is one, and God is for everyone." Srimad-Bhagavatam Canto 6: Chapter Sixteen, Text 41
"Sun is neither Indian nor American. Similarly, God, Krsna, He's neither for Indian or for... He is for everyone. Sarva yonisu kaunteya sambhavanti murtayo yah, tasam mahad-yonir brahma aham bija-pradah pita. He's the father of everyone, not only human beings, but in the animals, the trees, the aquatics, everyone, all living entities. Mamaivamso jiva...This is universal. This is... This Krsna consciousness movement is therefore universal, real universal." Prabhupada's Lectures Bhagavad-gita 1972 721126BG.HYD
"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." (Nectar of Devotion: Chapter Nineteen :Devotional Service in Pure Love of God, p.14)Although Srila Prabhupada invited his godbrothers to work with his disciples in 1977, it was by no means the first time that he had come up with the idea:
"So far as I am concerned, I am always for co-operation. If we can co-operate, we can do tremendous service for Lord Caitanya in the matter of propagating the mission of Lord Caitanya very nicely. I am prepared to co-operate with the Gaudiya mission wholeheartedly. Soon you can negotiate about our amalgamation on a co-operatively basis, it will be great service to Srila Prabhupada." Letter to Dr Syamasundardas Brahmacari, 5-9-69Since Srila Prabhupada saw ISKCON as "a non-sectarian society" whose members included Christians, Jews, Moslems and Hindus, who, moreover, were permitted to "retain their own respective religious faiths", then it is small wonder that he was willing to accommodate his own godbrothers, who were so qualified.
"Best thing is that all we Godbrothers work together. Then the criticism will stop, otherwise even we join together, criticism will go on. So this has been going on for the last 24 years, but everyone of us is doing his best keeping Lord Caitanya in the center. We should be satisfied so much." Letter to: Jayapataka Maharaja : 71-02-23 Gorakhpur
It is an often over-looked fact that the number of Srila Prabhupada's godbrothers instrumental in the break up of the Gaudiya Math was very small. When Srila Prabhupada denounces "the Gaudiya Math", he is by no means making a blanket condemnation of every single disciple of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, of whom there were 60,000. In the following he explains:
"In the beginning, during the presence of Om Visnupada Paramahamsa Parivrajakacarya Astottara-sata Sri Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada, all the disciples worked in agreement; but just after his disappearance, they disagreed. One party strictly followed the instructions of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, but another group created their own concoction about executing his desires. Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, at the time of his departure, requested all his disciples to form a governing body and conduct missionary activities co-operatively. He did not instruct a particular man to become the next acarya. But just after his passing away, his leading secretaries made plans, without authority, to occupy the post of acarya, and they split in two factions over who the next acarya would be. Consequently, both factions were asara, or useless, because they had no authority, having disobeyed the order of the spiritual master. Despite the spiritual master's order to form a governing body and execute the missionary activities of the Gaudiya Matha, the two unauthorized factions began litigation that is still going on after forty years with no decision." (Adi-lila Chapter Twelve, Text 8)So Srila Prabhupada clearly says that it was the "leading secretaries" who disobeyed Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, and who ultimately "split in two factions over who the next acarya would be", beginning "litigation that is still going on after forty years with no decision." Elsewhere Srila Prabhupada has explained who the leaders of these two factions were, namely Bhakti Vilas Tirtha Maharaja of Sri Chaitanya Math, and Ananta Vasudeva of Bagh Bazaar Math. So much for the leading secretaries. But what about everyone else? Srila Prabhupada plainly says that they: "strictly followed the instructions of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura".
As for Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati's instruction to preach in the west, this was to Srila Prabhupada in particular. Srila Prabhupada was a unique acarya who was especially chosen, empowered and sent by the Lord to turn the tide of kali yuga. This service was particularly meant for him, and no-one else could have accomplished it. However, just because the disciples of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati did not achieve such large scale preaching triumphs as their illustrious godbrother, for this reason alone we cannot therefore assume that every one of them was necessarily less dear to Krsna:
"Krsna becomes obliged to the loving spirit of the devotee and not exactly to the service rendered. No one can serve Krsna completely. He is so complete and self-sufficient that He has no need of any service from the devotee. It is the devotee's attitude of love and affection for Krsna that makes Him obliged." Nectar of Devotion: Chapter Twenty-two: Qualities of Krsna Further ExplainedRather, we should remember that they "strictly followed" their spiritual master's instructions.
What to speak of those who did, Srila Prabhupada even declared those who did not to be transcendentally situated, going so far as to compare their disputes to those that happen in the party of Srimati Radharani:
"Even amongst our God-brothers we have misunderstanding but none of us is astray from the service of Krishna. My Guru Maharaja ordered us to execute his mission combinedly. Unfortunately we are now separated. But none of us have stopped preaching Krishna Consciousness. Even if there was misunderstanding amongst the God-brothers of my Guru Maharaja none of them deviated from the transcendental loving service of Krishna. The idea is that provocation and misunderstanding may remain between one man and another. But our staunch faith in Krishna 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 Krishna Consciousness as far as one is able to do it. This personal grudge is not inhuman and as I have told many times, that individualism is the cause of personal misunderstanding. When such individualism is employed in the center of Krishna there is no harm even if there is personal misunderstanding. Personal misunderstanding exists even in the higher levels. There is competition of loving Krishna even in the party of Srimati Radharani." Letter to: Brahmananda : 67-11-18 CalcuttaSrila Prabhupada's relationship with his godbrothers is of an inconceivable nature, and very easy to misconstrue. For instance he described Srila Madhava Maharaja in the following way:
"So far as your question about controversy amongst the disciples of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Goswami Maharaja, that is a fact. But this controversy is not material. Just like in a national program, different political parties are sometimes in conflict and make propaganda against each other, but their central point is always service to the country. Similarly, amongst the disciples of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati there may be some controversy, but the central point is how to preach the mission of His Divine Grace. If the central point is fixed up then there is no harm in such controversy. Every individual being must have his opinion; that is the significance of individuality, but all such differences of opinions must coincide in Krishna. In the battlefield of Kuruksetra were Arjuna and Bhisma who were fighting with one another, and because Krishna was on the side of Arjuna, sometimes Bhisma pierced the body of Krishna also with arrows. But still they remained the greatest devotees of the Lord, and Krishna accepted the friendship of Arjuna just as He accepted the inimical arrows of Bhisma in the same loving spirit." Letter to: Mandali Bhadra : 69-07-28 Los Angeles
"Among Vaisnavas there may be some difference of opinion due to everyone's personal identity, but despite all personal differences, the cult of Krsna consciousness must go on. We can see that under the instructions of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Maharaja began preaching the Krsna consciousness movement in an organized way within the past hundred years. The disciples of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Maharaja 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 own capacity and producing many disciples to spread it all over the world." Srimad-Bhagavatam Canto 4: Chapter Twenty-eight, Text 31
"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. Those who are actually engaged in the service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead cannot be disunited in any circumstance." Srimad-Bhagavatam Canto 4: Chapter Thirty, Text 8
"...it is better not to mix with my Godbrothers very intimately because instead of inspiring our students and disciples they may sometimes pollute them. This attempt was made previously by them, especially Madhava Maharaja and Tirtha Maharaja and Bon Maharaja but somehow or other I saved the situation. This is going on." (Letter to Rupanuga Maharaja, 74-04-28, Tirupati)Nevertheless, a year later he allowed him to initiate his harinama disciple, and in 1977 appointed him as a governing board member on the charity trust which he had created. Srila Prabhupada may have criticised his godbrothers, but he also warned his disciples that they did not have the right to do the same. Rather, any disciple should respect the godbrothers of his guru:
"one should respect one's spiritual master's Godbrothers as one respects one's spiritual master." Adi-lila: Chapter Five, Text 147Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati also warns of the danger of getting involved in the transcendental disputes between great vaisnavas, and taking sides:
"Those, whose judgement is made of mundane stuff, being unable to enter into the spirit of the all-loving controversies among pure devotees, due to their own want of unalloyed devotion, are apt to impute to the devotees their own defects of partisanship and opposing views." Sri Brahma samhita p.72If pure devotees differ, then it is for their own inconceivable and transcendental reasons. It is certainly not done out of sectarian prejudice. Therefore, to project such motives onto Srila Prabhupada, by using his statements in an attempt to inculcate an attitude of prejudice in the minds of the innocent and impressionable against all Gaudiya math devotees is dishonest and duplicitous. One who does this certainly misrepresents Srila Prabhupada.
In the pages that precede this one, we have proven conclusively that Srila Prabhupada was not antagonistic to his godbrothers and their followers, and that moreover he wanted his own disciples to fully co-operate with them. However, even if we had not done this, it would still not give any more justification to the propagation of sectarian dogma against them. Such behaviour is avaisnava.
As can be seen from a previous quote, Srila Prabhupada held his godbrother and sannyasa guru Srila Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Maharaja in very high esteem. The same can be said of Srila Kesava Maharaja's own disciple, Srila Narayana Maharaja. Srila Prabhupada talked to him before passing away, of his great desire that all the disciples and grand disciples of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati "work conjointly":
"Srila Prabhupada (Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati) said that we should preach in Europe, America. That was his desire, and his other desire was that we all work together jointly to preach".
"Yes, that is right" said Narayana Maharaja.
"I didn't waste a single moment" said Srila Prabhupada "I tried my best, and it has been successful to some extent".
Srila Prabhupada's voice was choked with emotion.
"If we work conjointly" he continued, "then as Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu said prthivite...sankirtana has great possibilities. My life is coming to an end. It is my desire that you all forgive me for my mistakes..."
..."Whatever instruction you give me" said Narayana Maharaja "I will follow with absolute sincerity. I consider you my guru."
Narayana Maharaja said that what Srila Prabhupada had created should be protected, and it was everyone's duty to do so. He pledged to help in whatever way he could. Regarding Srila Prabhupada's asking his godbrothers for forgiveness, Narayana Maharaja said "we never thought that you did anything wrong. On the other hand, you bless us, we need it. You never did any wrong. If someone is offended by your actions, that is his fault."
After a pause, Narayana Maharaja spoke again, this time referring to Srila Prabhupada's disciples. "They should be told that they should never get motivated by their own self-interest" he said. "They should make your mission successful."
Srila Prabhupada turned his head slowly, looking over the devotees as they gathered in more closely. Then slowly he lifted his hand, as if to call them to attention, and said "Do not fight among yourselves, I have given direction in my books." He then lowered his hand. (Srila Prabhupada Lilamrta, Vol 6, p.399-401)
Srila Prabhupada and Srila Narayana Maharaja spent much time in each other's association before Srila Prabhupada departed for the west. They first met in 1947. When Srila Prabhupada received sannyasa from Srila Kesava Maharaja, Srila Narayana Maharaja performed the fire yajna, and made Srila Prabhupada's danda. When Srila Prabhupada had started ISKCON, Srila Narayana Maharaja sent him mrdangas, karatalas, books, tilak, pictures, Deities, japa mala, clothing, harmonium, pera (a sweet) etc etc. Throughout the time that Srila Prabhupada was preaching in the west, he frequently contacted Srila Narayana Maharaja, who assisted him in many ways:
"Please offer my obeisances to Srimad Narayana Maharaja. I have not heard from him in a long time. Please request him to find out a large piece of land perhaps with a house, between Mathura and Vrndavana, for purchasing." (S.P. letter 26/7/'70)Srila Prabhupada in fact wrote hundreds of letters to Srila Narayana Maharaja, most of which were unfortunately lost while in the care of ISKCON. However, from the ones which remain, a booklet has been compiled which is now available for purchase. From these few letters that we do have, the intimacy and appreciation which Srila Prabhupada felt for Srila Narayana Maharaja is very evident:
"Our relationship is certainly based on spontaneous love. That is why there is no chance of us forgetting one another. By the mercy of Guru and Gauranga may everything be auspicious for you. This is my constant prayer. >From the first time I saw you I have been your constant well-wisher. At his first sight of me, Srila Prabhupada also saw me with such love. It was in my very first darsana of Srila Prabhupada that I learned how to love" Letter from Srila Prabhupada 28th September 1966Srila Prabhupada entrusted Srila Narayana Maharaja with the great honour and responsibility of putting his body into samadhi. After Srila Prabhupada's disappearance, when his sons tried to stage a take-over bid of the ISKCON assets, from morning to evening for days, Srila Narayana Maharaja tirelessly testified on behalf of ISKCON in the Bombay courts.
"Because in all Gaudiya Mathas, I think that you are the real guru-sevaka, so I always correspond with you and I always give my full love and affection to you."
"If I was not thinking like this and putting so much trust in you, I would never have sent you my key and my money. I have so much faith and love for you." Letter from Srila Prabhupada, New York, May 17th 1967
Srila Prabhupada also specifically asked Srila Narayana Maharaja to guide his disciples in his physical absence, and to teach them the siddhanta of Gaudiya Vaisnavism as taught by Srila Rupa and Raghunath das Goswamis.
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