"Our recent Sun Poll series explored our reader's views on the devolution of a spiritual movement into a religion. The results of this poll (see chart below) differed somewhat from the usual 'party line' split we've seen in past Sun Polls." Read full article.
Replies: 6 Comments
Posted by Bhakta Sunil @ 01/31/2006 12:57 PM PST
To Mahasrngha Prabhu:
Pranams. It appears that you have misunderstood where I am coming from. I am a lowly diksa-initiated disciple of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Svami Prabhupada, and
Bhakta Sunil is the pen-name I use on these blogs (perhaps its use has
I am not affiliated with any of the
3 modal fractions of the original
ISKCON (Gaudiya Matha siksa, Rtvik partisan, guruist quasi-ISKCON) and
I run no mills that require grist, so your attribution of partisan-
political motivation, even unwit-
ting, is unwarranted. (I write only
deliberately.) Neither do I have a desire nor an ability "to damn", as
you curiously put it, a godbrother of my eternal spiritual master. I am not interested in propaganda; I
merely stated some facts. So why
don't you take your finger off the
hair-trigger (you might shoot some-one, or commit VAISNAVA-APARADHA)?
I have no difficulty in accepting the exalted spirituality of Srila Sridhara Maharaja, and even taking siksa from him from time to time. However I ALSO will not be restric-ted in the service of my eternal spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada.
The wording of your reply to Bhakta
Ray seemed to imply that Sridhara Maharaja was on the same or higher level of transcendental realization
as/than that of Srila Prabhupada. I
would like to draw your attention to one of Srila Prabhupada's quota-tions that you supplied: "...I know
he is a pure Vaisnava, a pure devotee, and I wanted to associate with him and I tried to help him also." These words, among other things, state that Srila Sridhara Maharaja required some spiritual assistance and that Srila Prabhu-
pada provided that assistance. Therefore it is also true that Srila Prabhupada is the siksa-guru of Sridhara Maharaja. I have no problem with any words of Srila Prabhupada that you posted, but unlike yourself, I also have no problem with Srila Prabhupada's limpidly unambiguous statement of fact to Rupanuga Prabhu on 74/4/28 that Sridhara Maharaja disobeyed the order of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada by supporting an unqualified person as Acarya. This does not mean that Sridhara Maharaja was not on some level of
"pure Vaisnava"; it means that he somehow or other temporarily made a
mistake. It does mean, however, that he was not on the very highest
level of "pure Vaisnava", the level
that Srila Prabhupada was on.
According to the Bhakti-rasamrta-
sindhu, there are three classes of uttama-bhagavata (or siddha-
mahapurusa). The highest is the
bhagavat-parsada-deha-prapta, the pure soul who is actually situated in his adhyatmika siddha-deha as a member of Sri Krsna's entourage in the spiritual world. The middling is the nirdhuta-kasaya, the pure soul all of whose vasanas and samskaras have been shaken/cast/
burned away by bhakti-yoga. The lowest is the murchita-kasaya, the pure soul for whom yet remain some vasanas and samskaras related to sattva-guna, but which are dormant due to the influence of bhakti-yoga. It is not an offence to tell the truth. Sridhara Maharaja's error was due to some sattvika-type
vasana or samskara aroused by the turbulence of that difficult and fractious period. Therefore
he belongs to the lowest level of uttama-bhagavata. Nevertheless, as Srila Prabhupada said, he is surely
of the uttama-bhagavata category.
The main point is this: As history
also attests, Srila Prabhupada was/
is on the highest level of uttama-
bhagavata, the bhagavat-parsada-
deha-prapta (that is why he is appropriately appellated as 'Srila
Prabhupada') and being adhiyukta
accordingly he never at any time deviated from the order of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada, the predecessor
Sampradaya Acarya who was/is also on the highest level of uttama-
There is certainly nothing wrong
with some disciples of Srila Prabhupada taking valuable siksa from Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Maha-
raja, for Srila Prabhupada did authorize this in the case of
PHILOSOPHICAL doubts. In Srimad
Bhagavatam 11.9.31, taking siksa from more than one guru is recom-
mended. It is true that, as you are
wont to state, guru is one. But as
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu taught
(acintya-bhedabheda-tattva), there is also difference in guru-tattva. In terms of transcendental realiza-
tion, some are on higher levels than others, though all are able to instruct in the same direction,
for the benefit of those who have sraddha.
Therefore, it is misleading and one-sided to state that Sridhara Maharaja was Srila Prabhupada's siksa-guru, and just leave it at that (even if Srila Prabhupada described him as such). To do so is to demonstrate that one is still under the influence of sattva-guna.
Posted by Mahasrngha Dasa @ 01/31/2006 03:22 AM PST
It appears that you could not have read the link that was provided to educate us more fully on this most delicate and intimate matter, or else your concretised opinions and rhetoric would not just reflect the tired, old and very common divisive propaganda against this most elevated Vaisnava. Where do you think such propaganda originated? Who would it benefit or please?
So I have included some of the more pertinent points into this posting for your convenience from an article called:
The Guardian of Devotion:
Disappearance and Rejection of the Spiritual Master in ISKCON after 1977
Swami B. B. Vishnu
"After the disappearance of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Goswami, the close relationship of Sridhara Goswami with Bhaktivedanta Swami was akin to that of siksa-guru, instructing spiritual master, and disciple. In the Gaudiya Vaisnava tradition " …the spiritual master who initiates according to the regulations of the sastras [scriptures] is called the diksa-guru, and the spiritual master who gives instructions for elevation is called the siksa-guru."  The initiating and instructing spiritual masters are considered 'non-different' —that is, one is not to make distinctions between them, even though they manifest in different bodies.
I took his [Sridhara Maharaja] advises [sic], instructions, very seriously because from the very beginning I know he is a pure Vaishnava, a pure devotee, and I wanted to associate with him and I tried to help him also. Our relationship is very intimate. After the breakdown of the Gaudiya Matha, I wanted to organize another organization, making Sridhara Maharaja the head.
These disturbances negatively affect the understanding and transmission of his spiritual teachings as well as his institutional arrangements. In this regard, Bhaktivedanta Swami wrote:
[…] when the acharya (guru) disappears, rogues and non-devotees take advantage and immediately begin to introduce unauthorized principles… The acharya, the authorized representative of the Supreme Lord, establishes these principles, but when he disappears, things once again become disordered.”
Without such enlightened guidance, neophyte disciples once again may become submerged in ignorance. Bhaktivedanta Swami had the foresight to understand this important point, and therefore he instructed his disciples shortly before his disappearance:
In my absence, if you have any question regarding philosophy you may consult my Godbrother, Swami B.R. Sridhara Maharaja at Navadwipa.
Bhaktivedanta Swami held Sridhara Goswami in the highest regard, as the record of their long and intimate relationship through almost five decades demonstrates:
So, we are very fortunate to hear His Divine Grace, Om Vishnupada Paramahamsa Parivrajakacharya Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Maharaja. By age and by experience, in both ways, he is senior to me. I was fortunate to have his association since a very long time, perhaps in 1930.
So, by guru and Vaishnava, whatever position I have got it is by guru's mercy and the blessings of the Vaishnava. 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 Vaishnava, who can be delivered from the clutches of maya?]
What Sripada Sridhara Maharaja has directed, I take it on my head. He is my always well-wisher. After the departure of Prabhupada (Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura) it is appropriate that I should accept his direction. [...] 
So, if you are actually sincere to take instructions from a siksa-guru, I can refer you to the one who is most highly competent of all 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 by his association. So, if you are serious about the advancement of your spiritual life, I will advise you to go to Sridhara Maharaja. It will be very good for your spiritual benefit, and I will feel that you are safe. When I was in India with the others, we lived with Sridhara Maharaja. You can also make arrangements for your other Godbrothers to go there in the future.
It appears that Maya is very active in this matter. BEWARE! That Srila Sridhara Gosvami Maharaja MAY or MAY NOT have made an error in backing the wrong man at one point is well beyond my capacity to know. All I know is what I have heard from my Guru Maharaja, who has heard it from his lotus lips.
Is this too effusive? Too bad. I will not be restricted in my love for our eternal guardians!
You have unwittingly taken up a re-hashed naiive partisan-political perspective from an old, confidential and obscure event to damn him. Shame. Vaisnavas are subtle and their motives high. Who can know what he is thinking except another Vaisnava? From an immature vantage point the path is strewn with contradictions, yet when Sri Guru is there to help us clear the weeds impeding our progress, we may yet have some success. If we are not qualified to have a highly qualified and sincere guru as our guide (or are not sincere ourselves), then we can only enact what we are qualified to hear and know (believe).
Sadhu-ninda or Vaisnava apparadha is plaguing this subject and the hearts of those who defame the most intimate servants of Sri Gauranga.
To further substantiate the points I am trying to make for your eternal benefit, I refer you to a web page where all detail is laid out clearly, though concrete is very hard to crack!
Our Affectionate Guardians
[A Historical Perspective (Book)]
Conversations with A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
If neophytes continue to peddle these offenses unchecked (posing or believing themselves to be madhyama or uttama), then what are they practically doing other than causing divisions and further confusion for other neophytes and disturbing the gentle madhyamas trying to make progress in their service?
I hope this concludes your (and anyone elses)objections, and corrects your heart and mind, especially because they come from the mouth of the one you believe has inpuned his character!
Posted by Bhakta Sunil @ 01/30/2006 08:23 AM PST
Mahasrngha Prabhu, I would like to remind you that Srila Prabhupada's guru is Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada, and that Srila Prabhupada once criticised Sridhara Maharaja for his role in the Ananta Vasudeva promotion debacle. Can you imagine Srila Prabhupada addressing such an
evaluation towards his real guru, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta? Please do not be effusive to the point of inaccuracy.
Posted by Mahasrngha Dasa @ 01/30/2006 04:25 AM PST
You said - "What complicated this thinning out of Prabhupada's disciplic legacy is the consultation with a Gaudiya Math godbrother of Srila Prabhupada, Sridhara Maharaja. It was his direction that spawned the zonal acarya fiasco. It isn't suprising therefore that a corporate-institutional model was adopted to preserve some semblance of guru-disciplic continuity."
Bhakta Ray, you have unwittingly just fallen into the same morass which the nominated "Acharyas" fell into, and that is in committing Vaisnava apparadha, to a selfless and exalted Vaisnava. Blaming the blameless.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja was Srila Prabhupada's (ACBVSP) siksa guru, confidant God brother and spiritual adviser for many decades and the main supporter and most stalwart defender that he had in India. That the appointed ones (through immaturity and/or ambition) have contorted, distorted or perverted what was told to them is not the fault of the speaker, but of the listeners.
Please read as it really was:
Our Affectionate Guardians
Why and how would such a dynamic movement fall so quickly into decline (within the institutionalised or religious form), how can Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's movement possibly become so stunted and retarded, so quickly? So many exalted fall-downs? Such villianous activities as prostitution and drug laundering masquerading under yukta-vairagya? There is really only one sastric answer possible, Vaisnava apparadha!!
It is not easy to commit Vaisnava apparadha, unless you can somehow find a real Vaisnava to offend, and then systemically and cunningly misrepresent what he was told in good faith and in sincere generosity, for some motivated reasons. After straying from etiquette so radically, it is not surprising that siddhanta can be bent to suit its retellers, but that is not BMG parampara anymore then, but somthing new. I read some years ago an official retraction of the apparadha in an official release by the GBC, and maybe this has preserved the institution to date from total annihilation. It is not easy for a kannista adhikari to accept the authority of another sadhu, they rely on their own Guru's siksa heavily and his "specialness" to define them, as they have not matured into the fuller expression of gurun (plural). It is recommended by authorities for kanistas to follow one teacher properly, but this should naturally evolve as our realisations and specific character (spiritual) gradually emerges from the recesses of our soul to take on its' full earthly expression. Srila Prabhupada recognised that some of his disciples were at the point of growth where they may hear truth from a "higher" teacher, his guru! One who Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura described as being relieved that there is "one who can truly represent my vani"
Unfortunately the spirit of rebellion or egoism do not die easily, and due to such pride in we western-born aspirants, we find ourselves in an unenviable position of having the learnt tendancy and capacity of offending those who are in the best position to help us most.
Please all be advised to formulate ones' opinion carefully and soberly about a Vaisnava, and remember that "Fools rush in..."
It is a pity your erudition and thoughtful reply is forever spoiled by this glaring defect, one which has been repeated in other forums in S.Sun for all to view, now for all time.
Posted by Bhakta Ray @ 12/29/2005 03:48 AM PST
Just want to let everybody know, I do know how to spell diksa.
I would like to add that my recent visits to an ISKCON temple after so many years has convinced me that there is no ISKCON as it was conceived by Srila Prabhupada. When the soul leaves the body that is called death.
What constituted the 'soul' of ISKCON besides its founder acarya were his disciples. 90% of them disappeared after their spiritual master's disappearance. In effect what was left was an external shell, a dead body. I don't know what is there now, some reincarnation, some reanimated semblance. Since Indians have for the most part taken financial and moral responsibility for the infrastructure, the temples and centers, it seems more like a place for them to go and worship, with all the cultural and material motivations that implies. If ISKCON wants to resurrect, in needs a great reconciliation with its disenfranchised devotees. What it's headed for of course is another bout of scandals. Maybe that will shake things up enough that it will seek guidance not from the Gaudiya Math, but from Srila Prabhupada's disciples they have alienated, the true inheritors of his spiritual legacy.
Posted by Bhakta Ray @ 12/28/2005 03:02 AM PST
I think the huge exodus of Prabhupada devotees from ISKCON to either take up traditional Western life again or pursue his mission separately, is an important factor. This drain of original disciples happened within a decade of Prabhupada's samadhi.
What complicated this thinning out of Prabhupada's disciplic legacy is the consultation with a Gaudiya Math godbrother of Srila Prabhupada, Sridhara Maharaja. It was his direction that spawned the zonal acarya fiasco. It isn't suprising therefore that a corporate-institutional model was adopted to preserve some semblance of guru-disciplic continuity. It both distanced ISKCON from the diksa-centric view of Sridhara and seemed to recapture Prabhupada's intent. But given that Western culture is less religious than it is capitalist, the GBC functions more like a board of directors than a college of spiritual siksa gurus tasked with preserving the siddhanta theology of Gaudiya-Vaisnavism. Given that the diska powers of the appointed gurus is overribable, they act more like the CEO's of decentralized multi-national corporations. Temple presidents are the administrative local managers, whereas the CEO's regulate mission strategy of the corporation as a whole. Of course the manifest goal is spiritual, so that the whole thing might look like a 'religion'. This is unproblematic really, because how in fact are Western religious institutions distinguishable from corporations?
They market, sell a product (salvation, Krsna consciousness, nirvana) and recruit employees for various levels of corporate functioning. In fact some of these corporate/religions actually charge for their religious product. The Catholic hawking of indulgences is an exact precursor. Even if the religion runs on a so-called non-profit basis, they still morally demand donations and services.
One shouldn't be distracted by the fact that these religions require practices and cultural codes that don't seem directly tied to an economic benefit. It's all about establishing exclusive membership and identity that guarantees "yes I belong, I qualify to be a consumer/producer of (fill in the blank with the religious product of your choice)."
One might object that CEO's don't initiate but ISKCON has become that kind of corporation where the CEO's have exclusive hiring capability. If the CEO is fired or resigns that employee is still a member and will be assigned a new boss by the board of directors. Why not? It keeps the organization looking like it is philosophy-driven, when in fact it is an economic entity.
It makes sense from the Vedic-sastric viewpoint when one considers that the goal and outcome of mundane religiosity is economic development.
So ISKCON has in a real sense 'capitalized' on the founder-acarya's spiritual potency. In true capitalist style has appropriated the 'means of production', the grace of the spiritual master, controlling membership and access to Krsna with their diska pawns.
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