For quite some time I have been attempting to focus on the delicate philosophical subject of associating intimately with any sadhus trained outside of Srila Prabhupada’s direct guidance. I am admittedly neophyte and naive in these matters, but I have embarked on a quest to understand many of the issues that I previously ignored or avoided. I have set aside a good deal of my time for this pursuit, and by Krsna’s arrangement I have been given access to many intelligent and thoughtful Godbrothers such as Bhudhara dasa and Jagadananda dasa, who are both supporters of the benefits of looking for advanced association in this direction.
The time has come, perhaps long overdue, for this type of dialogue to take place among the greater community of devotees. If we can somehow or other maintain an open mind and heart along with a humble attitude, then we will all certainly benefit from a sharing of ideas. Those unfortunate souls who are passionately caught up in what they purport to be the mission of Srila Prabhupada, namely corporate ISKCON, are supposedly too busy spreading Krsna consciousness to participate in meaningful, thoughtful, or sincere dialogue, what to speak of a traditional Vedic-style debate. This is their great loss and one of the major causes of their bewilderment, as Srila Prabhupada is trying to give them some good advice and assistance through devotees who are concerned by the state of affairs of the sankirtana movement.
As far as whether or not Srila B.V. Narayana Maharaja is a savior sent by Srila Prabhupada to help ISKCON and the disenfranchised disciples simultaneously, this I am not convinced of at this point in time. I pray that together we can unravel some of the mysteries of the many philosophical dilemmas faced by Srila Prabhupada’s followers today. It is a painful, frustrating position to be in a neophyte condition and still be situated within this great tradition - what to
speak of being potentially extremely dangerous to our spiritual well-being. When we are given the opportunity to make tremendous spiritual advancement we also run the risk of carelessly committing grave offenses, especially towards the Spiritual Master and the advanced Vaisnavas.
This type of precarious circumstance is presented by the appearance of B.V. Narayana Maharaja on the scene, and it puts all of us devotees living independently from ISKCON in an awkward position. Yes, we hanker for advanced association, even though we have Srila Prabhupada’s association within His writing, tapes etc. And, because Srila Prabhupada himself saw the need for advanced association for all his isolated disciples, he established the GBC to fulfill this important function. But alas, the unsurrendered neophyte disciples were not prepared to obey that instruction and assume the position of a GBC. This has been one of the major causes of the problems we see today. Now the GBC is off on another tangent, the big bureaucracy, ignoring the desires of Srila Prabhupada by finding yet another excuse to get further into illusion, and wander further away from Srila Prabhupada’s plan (which we can assume is non-different from that of the entire sampradaya).
I personally am not aware of any of my Godbrothers who is surrendered or advanced enough to execute Srila Prabhupada’s orders in regard to the proper functioning of the GBC. B.V. Narayana Maharaja is certainly far more advanced in most aspects of executing Krsna consciousness, but the important fact remains that he is in a different mood than Srila Prabhupada, and what he is preaching can, in the least, confuse the majority of the neophyte disciples due to their unfamiliarity with the content of his message. B.V. Narayana Swami is claiming this is due to Srila Prabhupada not having had sufficient opportunity to present the more elevated aspects of the process and philosophy.
I have become very careful about becoming instantly enlivened by something new. I am more into becoming enthusiastic about what I assumed I knew, but actually didn’t. Srila Prabhupada’s preaching and message is deceptively simple. We easily fool ourselves into thinking we have got the essence and that we are so advanced. Many fools even think they are pure devotees. Our minds have the tendency to screen out the hard stuff and emphasize the easy parts. The movement quickly grew to a point where the senior men in the hierarchy of the institution had
tremendous power over the temples. Their mode of passion style became prominent and Srila Prabhupada’s pure atmosphere became deluded, resulting in the interruption of many devotees’ advancement - particularly the leaders. It is no mystery why the Zonal Acarya System was introduced, and it is not surprising that so many of us just went along with it so willingly. This has never been corrected and as a result, most everyone remained on the neophyte level. The leaders, due to committing so many offenses, further deteriorated in consciousness until we
have what we have today - the Gaudiya Matha II.
There are so many different groups, both within and without. Those within are in disagreement on so many things, except the right of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples to take diksa disciples. They obviously don’t all agree on the Narayan Maharaja issue. Who believes that the chastised and/or corrected so-called “Narayan Maharaja deviators belonging to the Gopi-bhava-club” have surrendered in their hearts to the GBC directives? They were mostly worried about losing their power and positions. And this brings up an important point. Why, if B.V. Narayana Maharaja is so elevated as to be willing and able to bestow rasika-bhava realization, didn’t he detect that these so-called big leaders [members of the Gopi-bhava-club] were so unqualified and attached as to forsake their true beliefs, and succumb to the pressures of the GBC? Only a neophyte would not surrender their power and position for the sake of standing up for what they truly believe in. The threatened removal of their material position shouldn’t be of any concern to an advanced devotee seeking the ecstasy of raganuga-bhakti.
Why didn’t B.V. Narayana Maharaja discriminate in this regard before giving these devotees rasika-bhava initiation, since the devotees proved themselves neophyte by so easily abandoning their convictions not long afterwards? Without exception, they all capitulated and abandoned their proclaimed siksa guru, B.V. Narayana Maharaja, just as they did their diksa guru, Srila Prabhupada, and for the same reasons. Perhaps if B.V. Narayana Maharaja is looking for eligible candidates for raganuga bhakti he is searching in the wrong place. ISKCON is a desert in this category. The question remains: why wasn’t he aware of this reality? Was he enamored by the external trappings of their sannyasa, guruship, GBC positions, and institutional power?
Another area that B.V. Narayana Maharaja has caught the GBC napping on is the issue of siksa guru. The GBC has opted to only emphasize the position of diksa, and then de-emphasis the qualifications of a diksa to the level of a “rttvik”, or below. If Srila Prabhupada’s Plan had been followed, the society would now be populated by many siksas, instead of imperfect, unqualified diksas. All the copious GBC resolutions concerning the guru could easily be applied to the siksa guru, but certainly not to the diksa guru. Of course, being from the post-Gaudiya Matha tradition, the source of this deviation, B.V. Narayana Maharaja, goes along with the present GBC direction in regards to the diksa principle. Ironically, B.V. Narayana Maharaja is one of the few persons on the planet today who may be qualified to actually give diksa initiations.
I am not against the idea of taking diksa disciples, but I think that they [guru and disciples] should be courteous and mature enough to do this outside of Srila Prabhupada’s society. This myth that the existing diksas have the same mood as Srila Prabhupada is nonsense, offensive and illogical. The same holds true with respect to B.V. Narayana Maharaja having the same mood as Srila Prabhupada - it is impossible. The result is, as I have previously mentioned, that we have
all these Mathas everywhere, some flying the ISKCON flag, some the Sridhara Swami asrama banner. But no one is flying Srila Prabhupada’s victory flag. ISKCON temples are consisting of a rainbow of different new-age diksa gurus. Neophyte disciples are in the temples that are struggling the hardest, mainly because of the rasa-basa between the mood of the different guru’s...what to speak of all of these dominant moods eclipsing Srila Prabhupada’s mood.
It is only in places where the guru has enough political power and firm conviction in the principle of “one guru - one asrama” that we see any success in the preaching. The dominant guru knows that to remain on top he must keep his zonal ashrams as full of his own disciples as possible. His disciples move up the bureaucratic hierarchy relative to their ability to mirror the guru’s mood and philosophical conclusions, especially in regards to the initiation issue. I am, of course, referring primarily to Harikesa Swami. Even after the disastrous episodes surrounding ISKCON’s zonal acarya debacle, a lesson they still haven’t learned, they now run the risk that Harikesa Swami is having some spiritual difficulty and will be exposed as a fallen conditioned soul to all his disciples and the rest of the world . This is not too far fetched, considering the fact that the other big guru fall-downs were admittedly attributed to the concentration of power in unqualified men, who naturally became enamored and contaminated by false prestige. H. H. Harikesa has accumulated a tremendous amount of diverse responsibilities. If he falls down, ISKCON is in real trouble... along with the BBTI, the Mayapura project, the 1500 disciples in Russia, etc., etc.
As my service to Srila Prabhupada was always in the area of temple management, my tendency is to observe and analyze the phenomenal circumstances from that angle of vision. Because we all represent so many different angles of vision, I think that correspondence on this subject may have great value to the many devotees who are trying to get their minds around this issue. I look forward to hearing everyone’s thoughts as we begin to scratch the surface of this very important and complex issue.