Crow’s Nest of Misconception
Published on May 22nd, 2010 | by Harmonist staff143
Q. What is your opinion of Hari Sauri’s account of Srila Prabhupada’s final meeting with Srila Sridhara Maharaja:
A. I was recently alerted to these posts by two members of Iskcon, an active preacher in the household asrama and a member of the renounced order. The posts appeared on a popular Iskcon blog entitled Vaishnava Blog Feeds. These posts were a step above many of the things that Iskcon members have written and said about Srila Sridhara Maharaja in the past in that they acknowledged Prabhupada’s respect and affection for Srila Sridhara Maharaja. The description of the final meeting of Srila Sridhara Maharaja and Srila Prabhupada was for the most part innocuous, although Hari Sauri’s penchant for assuming that he can read people’s minds and an annoying lapse in Vaishnava etiquette in his frequent references to Srila Sridhara Maharaja, a highly respected sannyasi and founder-acarya, as “Sridhara” did sully the description.
Unfortunately, the first post takes a sharp turn for the worse towards the end. There Hari Sauri’s personal insights drift into a competitive spirit that borders on offensive thinking as to how Prabhupada is more spiritually advanced than Sridhara Maharaja, although such mundane calculations have no place in genuine spiritual circles. In doing so, Hari Sauri casts Srila Sridhara Maharaja in as unflattering a light as he possibly can in order to reach a conclusion that, while seeking to serve Srila Prabhupada, regrettably manages only to add to Iskcon’s legacy of sectarianism and Vaishnava aparadha. This post is followed by a second one in which Hari Sauri makes a bold attempt to rewrite history by claiming that Srila Prabhupada never gave his disciples the option to take siksa from Srila Sridhara Maharaja after his passing.
Hari Sauri’s first post concerns the last meeting between Sridhara Maharaja and Srila Prabhupada held at Sridhara Maharaja’s matha in Navadwipa. Oddly, in his description of the meeting, Hari Sauri does not mention the fact that Srila Prabhupada invited Srila Sridhara Maharaja to live with him in Mayapur. He saves this information for his description of the private conversations he had with Srila Prabhupada after the trip. Unfortunately, his three-sentence paraphrase of Prabhupada’s invitation does not do justice to what Srila Prabhupada said and the feeling it conveys. Let me therefore cite this conversation before we proceed:
Srila Prabhupada: “I want very much, Maharaja, that you come and stay at Mayapur. Because Prabhupada [Bhaktisiddhanta] 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 Mayapur? Srila Prabhupada 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 Mayapur, 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 matha.”
“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 with. I feel this deficiency very greatly…. 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 an elevator. 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, 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.”
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: “Yes, as long as I am alive to fulfill [Bhaktisiddhanta] Prabhupada’s desire.”
By not doing justice to this important conversation-the importance being apparent by the fact that Hari Sauri spends the next half of the post attempting to minimize its importance—although a transcript is readily available (Hari Sauri states he didn’t have it in front of him), he avoids the stark contrast between this recorded conversation and his recollection of the private conversations that took place after the meeting. Whereas in the recorded conversation Srila Prabhupada said, “I want to take you everywhere…this is my earnest desire,” in Hari Sauri’s recollection Srila Prabhupada’s mood has changed entirely and Srila Sridhara Maharaja is practically labeled envious due to his being associated at times with other Godbrothers who were envious of Prabhupada’s success (“After all, a man is known by his association”). Hari Sauri thus evades the responsibility for explaining this dramatic contrast between the recorded conversation and his recollection/ imagination, in which Srila Prabhupada is made to appear two-faced.
This said, it is entirely possible that Prabhupada decided not to further pursue inviting Sridhara Maharaja to live at Mayapur. He had mixed feelings about his Godbrothers, and although he had a very loving relationship with Sridhara Maharaja and high regard for his siksa, other disciples of Prabhupada Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura also had high regard for Sridhara Maharaja’s siksa, and thus they liked to take advantage of it and associate with him occasionally. Thus it is altogether possible that upon further reflection Prabhupada concluded that if Sridhara Maharaja lived with him in Mayapur some of his other Godbrothers who were not appreciative of Prabhupada’s position would also frequent Mayapur Candrodaya Mandir and that this could be problematic for his disciples.
However, Hari Sauri’s conclusion that it was Prabhupada’s desire that his followers should not hear from Sridhara Maharaja misses the boat altogether. First and foremost he fails to understand that what Prabhupada clearly wanted was for Sridhara Maharaja to share his realizations with his disciples. If he could arrange for that without having to worry that other Godbrothers of his who were envious of him would also be in the mix, he would have been successful in fulfilling Srila Bhaktisiddhanta’s request of him to bring Sridhara Maharaja out for preaching, he would have someone whom he highly respected to consult with, and his disciples would have been able to benefit from Sridhara Maharaja’s siksa. Note that in the long run Prabhupada realized two of these ideals: he did effectively bring Sridhara Maharaja out for preaching all over the world and his disciples had the opportunity to associate and benefit from his siksa without interference from any of Prabhupada’s other Godbrothers who may have been envious of his success.
Unfortunately, Hari Sauri does not give Prabhupada the credit he is due for bringing Sridhara Maharaja out for preaching, as evidenced from his erroneous account of Prabhupada’s final instruction to us about Sridhara Maharaja that I will deal with ahead. He entirely misses the salient point that Prabhupada clearly desired that his disciples have the opportunity to further flourish under the siksa of Sridhara Deva Goswami. He misses it so badly that for the last thirty-three years he has been preaching that Prabhupada’s disciples and grand disciples should not hear from Sridhara Maharaja even when his personal association was available without interference from other Godbrothers and even after Sridhara Maharaja passed away and his recorded talks were widely circulated within Iskcon, wherein many devotees including leaders of Iskcon took advantage of them with no negative repercussions!
As I mentioned earlier, Hari Sauri seeks in his second post to rewrite history altogether, history I am a personal witness to. Not only does he want to rewrite the history of Prabhupada’s final instruction to his disciples regarding the position of Sridhara Maharaja, he expects us to believe his rewrite on the basis of a private conversation he claims he had with Tamal Krsna Goswami, a conversation in which Tamal Krsna Maharaja allegedly privately changes his publicly stated version of what he and others heard Prabhupada say. While Tamal Krsna Goswami publicly stated that Prabhupada told his disciples they could associate with Sridhara Maharaja after his departure for siksa, and others who were also personally present at the time have confirmed this as well, and although this has been widely acknowledged as factual, Hari Sauri Hari Sauri implies three things, two that are in stark contrast to the facts and one that is highly questionable:
Tamal Krsna Maharaja was the only one present when Prabhupada gave his final instruction to us concerning the association of Sridhara Maharaja. Tamal Krsna Maharaja stretched the truth in order to convince the entire GBC that Prabhupada told us we could consult with Sridhara Maharaja for philosophical questions. Tamal Krsna Maharaja, many years later, privately admitted this to Hari Sauri and now Hari Sauri, many more years later, has decided to tell us what Tamal Krsna Maharaja said privately to him to set the record straight.
As I mentioned, I was personally present when Prabhupada gave his final instruction to us about Sridhara Maharaja, as were others. I was massaging Prabhupada’s feet and Tamal Krsna Maharaja asked Prabhupada how were we to perform the funeral/samadhi rites if he should pass on shortly. It is well known that at that time Prabhupada replied that for this we should speak to Narayana Maharaja, who resided in Mathura a short distance from Vrindavana. After a short pause Tamal Krsna Maharaja asked a follow-up question: “Is there anyone else we can consult with after your departure?” To this second question Prabhupada replied, “For philosophy, my Godbrother B. R. Sridhara Maharaja of Navadwipa.”
A brief history of what followed was that Narayana Maharaja was consulted regarding the samadhi ritual and he prominently participated in it. Then three months later at the annual Mayapur meeting, members of Iskcon’s Governing Body Commission (GBC) approached Sridhara Maharaja, who resided nearby, with philosophical questions. For several years thereafter, leading members of Iskcon continued to associate with Sridhara Maharaja for his siksa on philosophical questions and even rank and file devotees were free to approach him with their questions. Such association with Sridhara Maharaja became a contentious issue at times, but it continued for five years on the strength of the common knowledge that Prabhupada himself had opened to door to such association and sanctioned it. Had Iskcon’s association with Sridhara Maharaja been driven merely by Tamal Krsna Maharaja’s memory of what Prabhupada said to him in a private conversation, Iskcon’s GBC would not have been so hesitant to stop devotees from taking siksa from Sridhara Maharaja when his siksa called their spiritual credibility into question.
The alleged private discussion between Hari Sauri and Tamal Krsna Maharaja runs contrary to this, and furthermore it fails miserably in terms of logic. According to Hari Sauri, Tamal Krsna Goswami privately told him that Prabhupada never said that we could associate with Sridhara Maharaja for philosophical instructions, but rather that we could speak with either Narayana Maharaja or Sridhara Maharaja regarding how to perform the samadhi ritual. But why would Prabhupada suggest that we speak to both Sridhara Maharaja and Narayana Maharaja about how to conduct the samadhi ritual? Narayana Maharaja lived close by and was knowledgeable of ritual procedure, including presiding over Srila Prabhupada’s sannyasa ritual. Srila Sridhara Maharaja lived 1000 miles away and was not known for his involvement in ritual procedure but rather for his philosophical siksa. Furthermore, while Prabhupada did not consult with Narayana Maharaja on philosophical issues, he often praised the siksa of Sridhara Maharaja and even once wrote that we could benefit greatly from his siksa because he considered Sridhara Maharaja his own siksa guru.
Regarding Hari Sauri’s alleged private conversation with Tamal Krsna Maharaja and its contents, why are we only hearing about it now? Why are none of Tamal Krsna Maharaja’s close associates aware of his position as alleged by Hari Sauri? I have personally corresponded with several of Tamal Krsna Goswami’s closest associates and none of them have any recollection of Tamal Krsna Maharaja changing his position on what Prabhupada said about associating with Narayana Maharaja regarding the samadhi ritual and Sridhara Maharaja regarding philosophy. Thus we have nothing to support Hari Sauri’s version, nothing from Tamal Krsna Goswami or anyone else to confirm that he changed his position. Indeed, as late as 1995 Tamal Krsna Goswami approached B.G. Narasingha Maharaja and myself and confided in us in sacred Vrindavana that he felt the GBC were mistaken to have decided that Iskcon members would be in violation of Prabhupada’s desire if they accepted Sridhara Maharaja as their siksa guru. At that time he acknowledged once again that it was Prabhupada who had suggested it in the first place.
Hari Sauri concludes his second post with the following reflection:
“For whatever reason, it was done [taking siksa from Sridhara Maharaja], and we live with the consequences. If we sincerely continue with our preaching on behalf of Srila Prabhupada things will be gradually adjusted to the right point.”
Here Hari Sauri implies that there have been negative consequences that have resulted from Prabhupada’s disciples taking siksa from Sridhara Maharaja and that the reason for this is that Srila Prabhupada didn’t want us to do it in the first place. I do agree that there have been negative consequences, but I do not think Hari Sauri realizes what they are, nor do I agree with his idea of why there have been such consequences. Indeed, if he keeps preaching the way he has in these posts in the name of representing Srila Prabhupada, the negative consequences that Iskcon has been suffering since the departure of Srila Prabhupada will only continue to manifest.
The negative consequences that resulted from hearing from Sridhara Maharaja are more a result of not understanding what he actually taught and how it is in concert with Gaudiya siddhanta and then misrepresenting his siksa and offending His Divine Grace—Vaishnava aparadha. For Hari Sauri to attempt to rewrite the history of the events surrounding this issue serves only to perpetuate this aparadha.
The sectarianism and religious fanaticism in the name of guru bhakti that Hari Sauri’s posts represent are telling. They speak loudly to the thoughtful observer as to just how much the swan-like paramahamsa Srila Prabhupada may have flown the coop of Iskcon, while leaders like Hari Sauri seek by such posts to secure the faith of its members, clip their wings, and fear monger them to embrace their crow’s nest of misconception. If one wants to know who is responsible for the shadow-like status of today’s Iskcon in comparison to its luminous past, they need look no further than to its present leadership, many of whom have been serving in this capacity for decades.
Hari Sauri is a prime example, and although his may be only one opinion among many within Iskcon, his posts are most likely scheduled for future publication in his ongoing diary series. Indeed, Hari Sauri has become one of Iskcon’s leading historians of the legacy of Srila Prabhupada. Should Hari Sauri publish his rewrite of history, it will no doubt be followed up by the author’s book tour and signing at any Iskcon temple he chooses to visit. In contrast, persons like myself are banned from speaking in Iskcon because I don’t toe the party line in regard to Srila Sridhara Maharaja, although the party line was established decades ago by devotees who largely have fallen from their positions. Does anyone really think that Srila Prabhupada would agree with such a policy?
Ironically, in the name of chastity to Srila Prabhupada, Hari Sauri’s mood in regard to Srila Sridhara Maharaja couldn’t be farther from that of Srila Prabhupada himself. My own position on what chastity to Srila Prabhupada constitutes can be found here.
Judging an advanced sadhu’s state of mind is dangerous and Hari Sauri Prabhu oversteps his limits here by doing that. But he rationalizes this in the name of being loyal to Prabhupada.
Practically he is saying the Sridhara Maharaja is not envious but he’s envious.
He only proves how little he knows SM and how little he understands spiritual life. To him spiritual life is vacuous unless you are selling books, etc. How utterly shallow.
It is commonly known in psychoanalysis that if you have hateful, envious, or aggressive feelings for another you will often rid yourself of those feelings by imagining them to reside in another person… preferably the one to whom those feelings were originally directed. Of course the new dilemma is: What to do with this person now? The result of this process is paranoia.. paranoia that this person will retaliate or contaminate you with those disavowed feelings. The only alternative is to eliminate the person altogether…thereby imagining that they have taken with them all these undesirable feelings. This is the phenomena of scapegoating (or projective-identification). The problem is… the elimination of the feelings of envy, hate, and anger is really just a fantasy… they still belong to you…and will always belong to you until you deal with them directly. If you don’t… you will always need an enemy.
Thank you for calling the attitude represented in Hari Sauri’s posts: sectarianism and fanaticism. And thank you for citing Srila Prabhupada’s invitation to Srila Sridhara Maharaja. I’ve done so rather often in different settings, and the fanatics either change the subject or make up things that Srila Prabhupada is supposed to have said afterward (I think I’ve heard three different versions.) And they all, as you say, make Srila Prabhupada look duplicitous. I’ve always found this disturbing.
As far as I know, Hari Sauri only came up with the private conversation with Tamal Krishna Goswami recently, which raises the kinds of questions you bring up. And his lack of respect for Sridhara Maharaja, as shown in his just calling him by his name (we note that Srila Prabhupada, his old friend, certainly called him “Maharaja”) leaves a bad taste.
Thanks again for taking the trouble to address this issue so clearly and wisely.
“There is a fire in an ISKCON temple. A devotee guarding outside the gate doesn’t allow anyone to come in. A Gaudiya sadhu passing by tells him, “Don’t you see your temple is on fire?” The devotee answers, “We don’t take siksa from anyone outside of ISKCON.”
It’s great to hear Swami Tripurari cracking some ISKCON knuckleheads like the sorry Hari Sauri. If his venom gets published and distributed then of course there needs to be a strong and swift response to defend the dignity of Srila Sridhar Maharaja from the ISKCON morons like Hari Sauri das.
Bash’em and bash’em hard and if that don’t work we’ll move on to the next measure till the evil is silent.
Here again, I find myself looking up to my senior Godbrother Tripurari Maharaja to use his potency and influence to retaliate against these ISKCON morons and try to give the innocent newcomers to Srila Prabhupada an alternative to GBC nonsense.
I am just wondering how long it will be before we have Hare Krishna suicide bombers and who will resort to it first? Hmmmmmm?
For now, all we have are conceptual bombs of the higher world that easily destroy such bigotry and evil as being advocated by Hari Sauri das – the classic example of an ISKCON moron.
suicide bombers? oh please lets not go there!
Thank you for your article. It is wonderful to read, full of beautiful language and the fact that you are not only an acute observer but also a skillful writer adds to the quality of your write up. Seriously, thank you for sharing the memories you have with other people. These days truth is so often twisted, and different sectarian groups put a spin on each other so often that it is really nice to come across objective articles, just like yours.
Yes, wonderful to read. Thank you very much. Even a simple mind as mine can feel the objectivity.
Something that bothers me is the persistence of such static interpretations of the definition of the term ‘acarya,’ which is considered to be a rigidly singular concept amongst some individuals, who tend to respond with abject hostility whenever someone suggests that there could be more than one acarya.
Hari Sauri uses this same ill-logic when recounting the exchanges between Srila Prabhupada and Srila Sridhar Maharaja, specifically on the matter of Srila Sridhar Maharaja being offered a position of prominent leadership in ISKCON but humbly deferring respect and honor to Srila Prabhupada and insisting that it is Srila Prabhupada who is the acarya [see reference below] . Nowhere (aside from Hurry/Sorry’s fan fiction) have I ever noticed mention of Srila Sridhar Maharaja declaring (or even inferring) Srila Prabhupada as the successive acarya of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta’s Gaudiya Math mission.
Srila Prabhupada is the Founder Acarya of ISKCON, Srila Sridhar Maharaja is the Founder Acarya of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur is the Founder Acarya of Gaudiya Math, and similarly Swami Bhakti Vedanta Tripurari is the Founder Acarya of the Sri Chaitanya Sanga. Sampradaya acaryaship is generally attributed to Srila Rupa Gosvami and Sri Jiva Gosvami. I’m sure such a suggestion will send the “Prabhupadanugas” into tongue-swallowing convulsions but, unless I’m completely mistaken, it is just about as simple and unarguable as that.
Please forgive my offenses. All glories to our ever well wishing affectionate guardians.
Below from http://www.prabhupada.org/rama/?p=4475
Next morning on the 11th, Srila Prabhupada had second thoughts. He noted that Sridhar M. had previously admitted he (Prabhupada) was the real acarya, and that Sridhar was a learned scholar. But his intimate association with other members of the Gaudiya Matha dissuaded Prabhupada from purusing the invitation. So the idea was dropped.
From this we understood very clearly that although Srila Prabhupada held Sridhar M. in the highest regard, his offer to him to come and live in Mayapur was not so that Sridhar M. could occupy a senior post to Srila Prabhupada himself. In this connection it should be noted very clearly that Srila Prabhupada had proved his own superior position as a preacher and was “the real acarya” of their guru maharaja’s mission. If Sridhar had come, as some have claimed, to become the President of ISKCON at Srila Prabhupada’s behest, that was still subordinate to Srila Prabhupada’s position as acarya. But the real fact is, as Srila Prabhupada told me afterwards, he had this sentiment formed by the instructions of his Guru Maharaja in 1935, “to drag his godbrother out and make him preach.”
Very insidious, especially the last sentence that Bala quoted from Hari Sauri. It makes it look like Srila Prabhupada didn’t try to get Srila Sridhara Maharaja involved because of Sridhara Maharaja’s realization and ability to help others, but rather because it was the instruction of Srila Prabhupada’s Guru Maharaja.
All Glories to Sri Sri Guru & Gauranga
a few simple points
Srila Prabhupada considers Srila BR Shridardev Goswami Maharaj his shiksha guru, ie his “boss”. duh !
The Lord also acts in such a way as to allow the demoniac to believe their nonsense, eg Lord Krishna being “killed” by a hunter.
Srila Prabhupada took his Gems to Srila Guru Maharaj, not others.
We do not care for the opinion of ordinary men, especially self-elevators with no concept of Guru.
So, madhumangal das, you are not afraid of Krishna’s wrath when you offend his pure servant!
You should have also included the final concluding paragraph of his article:
“Noone should be in the illusion of thinking that Srila Prabhupada regarded either Sridhar Swami or any of his godbrothers as superior to himself in the field of preaching. Srila Prabhupada was very clear that all of them had failed to properly understand Srila Bhaktisiddhanta’s instructions, and therefore they had all become relative failures. He particularly noted the disasterous effects of Sridhar Swami’s misunderstandings in his letter written from Tirupati to Rupanuga in 1974. This cannot be explained away. It has to be taken in the straight forward way that it was written. Srila Prabhupada, despite his high regard for his dear godbrother, felt that he (Sridhar Swami and others) had deviated the whole preaching effort, and that he, Srila Prabhupada, in forming ISKCON, had restored it.”
It absolutely amazes me that an Iskcon leader could be so blatantly disrespectful. Saying that it is sectarian or fanatical doesn’t even do it justice. It feels shameful to me that the GBC could allow any of their leaders to publicly exhibit such severe Vaishnava aparadha.
As per his web site, Hari Sauri purports to be “preserving Prabhupada’s legacy.” Unfortunately Hari Sauri’s posts help create and preserve an ISKCON legacy of a rather different kind — chiefly one of sectarianism and fear, bolstered by aparadha and fiction. In no way can this contribute favorably to Hari Sauri’s claimed agenda.
I doubt it is coincidental that the GBC posted Drutakarma’s voluminous and obscure anti-Gaudiya Matha essay within days of the initial circulation and publication of the above article. This “circling of the wagons” on the part of institutional spokespeople reveals the extent to which society consciousness has taken the wheel. I would hope that at least one of the society’s leaders would be embarrassed by these fear tactics in general, and take or urge corrective action publicly.
As such action may not be forthcoming, perhaps we should ensure that the above article reaches even more readership, and that even more devotees express their concern regarding Hari Sauri’s posts (and similar rhetoric) here.
I also found it pretty interesting that Drutakarma’s paper appeared the day after this Sanga was mailed out. It is worth noting that his paper is old and simply being republished now.
I think the fact that such websites never engage directly with articles like “Crow’s Nest” is indicative of an underlying understanding of how flimsy their rebuttals are. Rather than take an issue head on (dare I say, maybe even providing a link to the opposing article) everything is addressed indirectly (and embarrassingly inadequately). Such lack of linking and direct addresses also ensures that those who have no or limited exposure to such potentially faith-challenging controversies can remain uninformed and loyal.
The article by Drutakarma has since been followed by a post of Sivarama Swami’s “Siksa outside ISKCON” booklet in pdf.
As expected and almost without exception the comments to these posts are whittled down to those that strictly tow the GBC party line.
It is intriguing to me that there is never enough said on the subject of exclusive ISKCON loyalty. It is an extraordinary example of the old saying, “beating a dead horse”.
Sadly, I’ve been benumbed to the persistence of so many “seniors” in ISKCON who push this idea (onto the newcomers, easily swayed and unaware) that all of Srila Prabhupada’s godbrothers preaching efforts were either failures or that they actually made no preaching efforts but rather merely filled their bellies and pockets. I’ve heard this so many times, along with embarrassing jingoisms like “there’s only one His Divine Grace.”
It comes as no shock here that the leaders of ISKCON are so indiscreetly offensive, rather it seems to be their most prominent trait. To paraphrase a quote that I have heard to be attributed to Srila Bhakti Rakshaka Sridhar Dev-Goswami, “the very food they eat is vaishnava aparadha.”
I am planning to respond to Drutakarma’s 18 page article next. Interestingly it came out just after my Crow’s Nest article was published here. It is an older paper apparently full of false reasons to avoid hearing from Sridhara Maharaja. It’s a real piece of work in many respects but overall it represents the architecture on which the present day Iskcon rests: their misconception concerning the myth of the so called “Math System” vs the “GBC System.” Of course it also includes misinformation about Sridhara Maharaja, etc. and a bit of apasiddhanta.
I do appreciate the comments posted here thus far.
This must be the writings you are referring to by Drutakarma das;
Where is this article by Drutakarma prabhu?
You might also consider a response to HH Sivarama Swami’s booklet entitled “Siksa outside ISKCON”, which is an old work but has recently been posted at dandavats.com. There are overlapping themes in these two publications (Drutakarma Prabhu & HH Sivarama Swami).
In their vain attempts to re-write history, iskcon resembles the Bush Administration using ‘scare tactics’ to induce the masses to believe that Sridhara Maharaja and the Gaudiya Matha are the ‘enemy’ that must be repelled at all costs.
Personally I feel that Hari Sauri and Drutakarma’s diatribes are the most shameless pieces of iskcon propaganda to have been excreted from that society in recent times.
However, we shouldn’t be in the illusion that this mentality is simply amongst a few hard-nosed fanatics – even some iskcon members that are considered to be of a more ‘mellow’ nature pass comments that are equally as foul. Indradyumna Swami had this to say about Sridhara Maharaja some years back:
“Prabhupada was afraid that his Godbrothers would take advantage of his success. Sridhara Maharaja is one of the most important sannyasis in Gaudiya Math. He now passed away, but he’s a very important member of Gaudiya Math. And I have no doubt he went back to Godhead. But there was a little jealousy there.” (IDS Moscow 28.11.98)
I agree, Kesava. Use of fear to control is a clear sign of dysfunctional, manipulative and duplicitous leadership.
Iskcon does not set a good example; neither from a mundane nor a spiritual perspective.
As an organization, they have miserably failed their Gurudeva. They should be deeply ashamed.
Such a shame that people will infer what is in the heart of a suddha bhakta when he has been so kind to tell us himself:
730317RC.MAY Srila Sridhar Maharaj speaking in Mayapur:
Lilamrta, Vol. 3, p. 203-4:
There is much in the heart of Srila Bhakti Raksaka Sridhar Maharaj… but not a trace of envy.
As far as my knowledge goes, Indradyumna Swami never even met Sridhara Maharaja. That being the case, whatever ‘knowledge’ he has of Sridhara Maharaja is probably 3rd hand at best and most likely from a dubious source like Hari Sauri.
I find it very sad that Indradyumna Swami can make such a character assassination of Sridhara Maharaja without having the slightest inkling of Sridhara Maharaja’s divine character.
Then again, perhaps Indradyumna Swami is like the rest of the iskcon ‘sheepal’– just taking things on face value according to what the GBC pontificates.
I guess at its best, its still pretty bad.
Does anyone get a distinct feeling that many ISKCON followers have mixed Christian Salvation theology with Gaudiya Mystical siddhanta? When people say: “Go back to Godhead” I wonder what they have in mind? Are they forgetting or just never understood this intended path? I guess that is the topic for another thread.
You nailed it. I lean toward never understood.
It’s fundamentalism. Fundamentalist muslims kill people, fundamentalist Gaudiya offend Vaisnavas. The latter is worse because it constitutes a sin of the soul. In this case it is one that they indoctrinate others into helping them develop a samskara for it.
It is a very interesting phenomenon. Sri Rupa speaks of three grades of faith in and understanding of sastra with regard to eligibility to tread the path. These people have faith and practice but their entire practice is brought into question when they offend so readily and in doing so seek to support their offending with sastra and sastra-yukti (if you can call it that). Under scrutiny it becomes apparent that they do not understand sastra in a comprehensive sense nor do they have a samskara to follow one who does. Thus despite their apparent practice, divorced as they are from the essential import of the practice as evidenced by their offensive mentality they make no advancement. They are very rule oriented without understanding the meaning behind the rules. I mean there is no love in their hearts to speak and write as they do and all of this in the name of loving Prabhupada. A book on this subject would be riveting.
It does seem that both institutional consciousness and Krishna-consciousness can look very similar in action but at heart it is so different. It is like chanting I guess. You can chant for hours as a rote activity not having paid attention at all to what was done and complete 16 rounds with a hurray! Or you can chant 2 rounds quietly in a contemplative mental space, absorbed in the sound with faith into the workings of the heart. Its such a subtle and nuanced difference. Either way, outside you may only hear: hare krsna hare rama.
Arjuna killed a lot of people, was he a fundamentalist?
Is being fundamentalist really bad?
Doesn’t fundamentalist mean one who sticks to fundamental principles as opposed to someone who introduces some sort of new standard?
When it gets down to it, wasn’t Srila Prabhupada somewhat of an old school fundamentalist compared to the new Hare Krishna gurus?
Why is fundamentalism bad?
Whatever happened to “Hare Krishna — bang, bang bang”?
I think I have explained my use of the word as one who embraces form over substance, which is different from your definition.
Yes, but what is “substance” is itself another subject of discussion. Then we address the matter of definitions, opinions, educational levels etc. etc.
The problem is when we confuse fundamental misconception with fundamental knowledge.
Obviously, many sincere devotees are not masters of the vast Gaudiya literature and end up acting like fundamentalist fanatics due insufficient study and learning in the Gaudiya shastra.
Is it really their fault they suffer from defective philosophical understanding? Does ISKCON really allow the rank and file devotees the facility to fully learn the books of Krishna consciousness?
The “work now, samadhi later” ethic of ISKCON has produced many a fanatic neophyte bubbling over with an abundance of enthusiasm and religious fervor.
At what point do we get to the “samadhi now, forget work” stage?
ISKCON started this practice of unleashing fanatic neophytes on the world in the very early days. All that worked good in the expansion phase, but it seems like the ISKCON GBC are living in a time warp where spiritual advancement stopped in 1977 and their understanding of philosophy was frozen in time at that point.
Such are the pitfalls of institutionalizing Krishna consciousness into a top-heavy organization of ambitious individuals competing for position, power and prestige.
In the end, they will argue “my substance is better than your substance”.
Anybody who does not speak loudly and criticize everyone is supposed to be coward, not a lion like BSST and SP. Just become a lion like BSST and SP and trample over everything. This seems to be the motto.
But SP and BSST didn’t trample over everything! That is only iskcon’s mutated vision of them.
That is what I meant, it is the version that devotees use. Thankfully they do not judge and scrutinize SP’s behavior critically or else they will call him duplicitous or proud based on their material judgement. So they don’t judge SP, but have a license to comment on the mental state,jealousy, envy etc of every devotee including pujyapada Sridhar Maharaja. This state of affairs should stop.
Sometimes when you get in a fight with a lover or friend and you realize that you were actually wrong and being reactive, the hardest thing to do is admit that you were wrong. With every passing second it becomes harder and you even try to add reasoning to the ways you were right in order to not admit you were wrong. Then you have to admit you made up those arguments too. Now to admit you were wrong would take more humility than imaginable. At this point, one has to make a choice: say you were wrong or stick to your guns and create an alternate reality in which wrong is right.
This issue in ISKCON with Sridhara Maharaja is something like that. Taking people back who left for this reason is like a big admission of error. The fault-finding and splintering is a way to reinforce the alternate reality in which wrong is actually right. This is unacceptable and humility should be a given in Gaudiya Vaisnavism… BUT one must feel some empathy… it is probably extremely hard to do this. Plus, it is a group…so admission on the part of one does not secure admission on the part of others. This would mean risking ending up on the other side of the split. Not everyone has that courage, humility, and integrity.
I think for those people who are not satisfied with the way things are (I admit becoming jaded over these last 15 years) there are some possible avenues for change.
If what I describe above is truly occurring, it would behoove reformers to approach leaders in the mission who have proven some favorability and humility in the past. If they possess some popularity as well ISKCON will feel the need to heed their voices. Bhakti Caru Swami, who at this point seems to be flirting with ritvikism, may ultimately prove a useful reformer if he became courageous enough to stand up for change.
I believe this to be true for 3 reasons: 1. He was significantly affected by Srila Sridhara Maharaja. 2. He has been able to admit being wrong publicly before in relation to some critical comments made about Swami B.V. Tripurari. 3. He is very popular in ISKCON.
This would be a hard task as he is also very submissive to the status quo of ISKCON and seems to have become more and more philosophically variant and rigid over time. However, some possibility is there.
Another option is Radhanatha Swami. I say this for various reasons: 1. He is no stranger to what it is like to be outcasted from ISKCON having been so himself when he was with Kirtanananda Swami. 2. He has proven favorable to some outcasted devotees in the past. 3. He is extremely popular in ISKCON. 4. He seems to embody an ethic of humility and generosity.
I am not suggesting this is a necessary or even certain task… but in my opinion, it may be a possible avenue for rectifying these injuries.
Dear Gopa Kumar Prabhu,
Your observations are interesting and indeed may certainly be of some value. However, as regards Bhakti Caru Swami, let us not forget that he later openly rejected Sridhara Maharaja and said many things against him which have directly influenced iskcon up to the present against Sridhara Maharaja and his philosophical conceptions. The only reason why BCS admitted his mistakes in regard to critical comments against Tripurari Swami was because his comments were embarrassing and were dragged in front of the public by Brahma Prabhu – not to say anything would have been even more embarrassing.
If he is really serious about correcting the past and reforming iskcon, let us see him try to undo the web of deception and lies that he and others wove against Sridhara Maharaja. Only after he has been forgiven for his grievous offenses against Sridhara Maharaja will there be any potency in him to change anything.
Bhakti Caru swami affected by Srila Sridhara Maharaj? Radhanath Swami humble? Where is the evidence? Where is the corresponding behavior?
I think by trying to judge the humility of a person( in this case Radhanath Swami), we are making the same mistake that Hari Sauri is making while judging SP’s godbrothers. What evidence will satisfy you about the humility of a person Bhakti-ananda? Is it even necessary to do that in this discussion? In fact, the theme of the discussion is opposition, not to judge how jealous, envious etc a particular sadhu is unless that person is creating obstacles in preaching.
Come on, there are symptons of humility and so forth. Srila Sridhara Maharaja was banned in Iskcon many years ago. And this very discussion is only taking place because more offenses to him are being made. A humble fellow would not tolerate that and remain in the institution. Be real.
I agree. At least for my part I err on the side of being generous. When critical thoughts come up… which they often do… I try to ask myself: How have you been judged and evaluated before? How have people distorted your character with their projections and anger? How many times have you done the same to them?
Furthermore, I have had contact with Radhanatha Swami and have always liked him. I am sure I can say much more, but who am I?
As for Bhakti Caru Swami, I almost took initiation from him years ago prior to meeting Gurumaharaja Swami Tripurari. I am glad that the event Kesava (Rama Kesava?) mentioned actually occured since it helped me make that decision. Still, BCS’s response was grand… and detracted significantly. I am not condoning his behavior, but it does take a lot to make public apologies.
Radhanath Swami happens to be my beloved diksa guru. He has given me all blessings to accept the merciful association and guidance of Swami B.V. Tripurari.
In the 10 years that I have known him, there have been countless examples in his behavior of his deep humility. He has always been and continues to be tireless advocate of service and respect to all Vaisnavas. He has publicly praised Swami B. R. Sridhar on numerous occasions and accurately depicted the relationship between Srila Prabhupada and Swami B. R. Sridhar. On his Vrindavan yatra he happened to meet with Paramadvaiti Maharaja at Govinda kunda. On the invitation of Radhanath Swami, Paramadvaiti Maharaja spoke there at Govinda kunda for some time to 3000 of his disciple. He then sat down with Paramadvaiti Maharaja and had his disciples serve Paramadvaiti Maharaja lunch. When Srila Narayana Maharaja visited New Vrindavan, Radhanath Swami personally gave him a tour of New Vrindavan and took lunch with him. He extended him all hospitality. When a dear godbrother of Radhanath Swami was being mistreated by the GBC, Radhanath Swami stuck his neck out to defend this devotee before the GBC body, and invited him to speak on his yatras even when he had been banned from speaking in ISKCON temples. He has done all these things and many more with the risk of being admonished or worse by the GBC and many members of ISKCON. He endures much criticism from ISKCON members in this regard but continues to be and behave in a very humble manner.
That is the corresponding behavior.
Thank you for this Atmananda. I have always had a nice experience of Radhanatha Maharaja. Might I also add that he is also VERY successful in preaching, service, and manifesting accommodations and services for the Vaisnavas. He was also a wonderful guest at Audarya some years ago. I was there for that visit and he behaved with utmost respect and generosity.
The more I hear these type of things come out of ISKCON the more I am repelled.
This is why many of try to serve in Sri Caitanya Sanga. In Srila Gurumaharaja Swami Tripurari’s group… we are spared much of this duplicitousness, fault-finding, foul-mouthing.
I feel the same. I think what Bhaktikanda has said is true – if these gentlemen were indeed truly humble they would stand up for the right conception and speak out against such inflammatory articles written by Hari Sauri, Drutakarma et al. The sad reality is that they do not, partly because they do not wish to forfeit their positions in iskcon and also because they have brainwashed themselves into believing the self-induced propaganda that Gaudiya Matha is a dangerous bogey man that is coming to destroy their society. All cults need a common enemy – Gaudiya Matha and anyone connected to it are their convenient bugbears.
Oh, BTW, Gopa Kumara Prabhu – I’m not Rama Kesava Prabhu, I’m a different Kesava.
It is not that all people speak loudly to curb other the fanatics. Some people work silently. I have seen that speaking loudly against fanatic people feeds into them and they get more excited to engage you in their purposeless dialog. They are never going to change. Many times it is a good idea to do your work and ignore these people. Unfortunately a lot of SP’s own disciples support such fanatic views so strongly that it is hard to ignore and engage in positive work.
Apart from that I will again point out that judging the humility of a particular devotee in ISKCON was not the concern of this article. So I hope that we had focused on essential theme of the article.
The sad reality is that they do not, partly because they do not wish to forfeit their positions in iskcon and also because they have brainwashed themselves into believing the self-induced propaganda that Gaudiya Matha is a dangerous bogey man that is coming to destroy their society
I strongly protest your judgement and pronouncement. How do you know what others think? Aren’t you committing the same mistake which Hari Sauri prabhu was doing judging Sridhar Maharaj’s character? Just because SP criticized his godbrothers, many of the disciples got the license to do so. Similarly you have got the license to say anything about anybody in the name of protecting Sridhar Maharaja.
Is it necessary to protect the dignity of Sridhar Maharaja by judging other vaisnavas character, intention etc and putting them down?
With respect, if you can offer another feasible explanation as to why so many senior men in iskcon refuse to stand up and speak out against the blasphemy of Sridhara Maharaja, I am willing to listen.
Why is it that when Hari Sauri, Drutakarma and others write diatribes against Sridhara Maharaja, the gentlemen that you mention say nothing? Why do they not write a reply to Hari Sauri? Why don’t they demand an apology? Why don’t they tell their disciples that this is offensive and wrong?
As Nitaisundara Prabhu has correctly pointed out, anyone that does speak the truth in that society is promptly shown the door. I think Sripad Tripurari Maharaja can vouch for that…
And how do I know what others think? Because I was in iskcon long enough (20 years) to hear those senior men tell me directly what they thought of Sridhara Maharaja, Tripurari Maharaja, Narasingha Maharaja, Paramadvaiti Maharaja, Dhira Krishna Maharaja, Bhakti Doyal Maharaja and others. So I am not merely judging and hypothesizing as to what these gentlemen ‘may’ think – I know what they think for sure. Again, I am sure that Tripurari Maharaja would agree.
And if, as you suggest, any of these men are working silently behind the scenes to rectify the situation, then it must be so silent and so inaudible that nobody can hear it, because it is clear that there is absolutely no change in iskcon’s institutional mentality since the 1980’s.
As regards humility, well, it depends upon your definition of humility. Somebody may think that humility means bowing your head a little, folding you hands, putting a docile expression on your face and telling everyone how fallen you are. But according to Sridhara Maharaja, real humility means speaking the truth on behalf of ones guru.
That definition makes much more sense to me…
*Is it necessary to protect the dignity of Sridhar Maharaja by judging other vaisnavas character, intention etc and putting them down?*
Yes it is: It is necessary to call a spade a spade. Which is not the same as putting an aparadhi “down”. Down such aparadhis have already chosen, on their own, to place themselves.
Bhaktikanda, your tone in this discussion is quite off-putting. Additionally, I am shocked by the rigidity and confidence of the stance you take considering elsewhere on this site you scolded Tripurari Maharaja for not aligning himself with the opinion of Narayan Maharaja, whose history in relation to Sridhara Maharaja is far from spotless. Is this not inconsistent? Why the double standard?
Otherwise, while Sridhara Maharaja was offended by Iskcon he understood that some felt they needed the support it offered and he did not fault them if they remained within in silent opposition. You can see some evidence of this in the excerpt quoted by Kesava.
Even when devotees do speak out there is censorship.
I don’t think it is such an easy decision whether to leave the organization or stay with it and you cannot judge a person based on just one criterion. I know a lot of devotees( mahanidhi swami, jananivas prabhu and pankajangri prabhu) in ISKCON who are advanced souls and I don’t think you can say that there can be nobody in ISKCON who is advanced. Bhishma was a pure devotee even though he was fighting for the Kauravas, so I find your response( Bhaktiananda) hasty and not well thought out. Any sweeping generalization made about all people in an organization is not fair. People can say that same about GV and Roman Catholic Church and say GV and Roman Catholic Church has no person that is good. Is that true?
I agree that generalizations generalize things, but I do not think the issue is leave or don’t leave per se in this specific situation. One who were to “stay” in Iskcon yet strongly speak the siddhanta of GV and refuse to get muddled down in the politics would find that they do not have to “leave”, they will kindly be shown the door. And we see that the more inspiring members of Iskcon generally were at one point kicked out, and if they are not, they perpetually have a group of people after them trying to relegate or remove them. Best thing is to find a real sadhu, if he or she feels it will be in your interest to make a break with a given group, then it is in your interest. Of course finding a sadhu is not a cut and dry task.
The biggest groups of any sort will always be the ones that make everything black-and-white. So better to search out the gray for ourselves and pour water on the root of the tree from a safe position, serving everyone by serving Guru and Krishna, which might sometimes involve active engagement with those who are so rigidly black and white, but many times it will not.
My protest was regarding discussion of personal character of a particular Vaisnava(in this case Radhanath swami) and whether he is humble or not. Is it appropriate for sadhakas to make pronouncements about a Vaisnava’s motives or humility when he has not created obstacles in preaching and neither has he personally vilified Sridhar Maharaja?
I feel that it is my duty to stand up against blasphemy of all Vaisnavas, not just see others criticizing everybody in the name of defending Sridhar Maharaja in this case or SP in Hari Sauri’s case.
Excellent reply Nitaisundara prabhu, although I doubt that they would ‘kindly’ be shown the door…
As regards the few sadhus that do stay in iskcon, I have no doubt that they are all good, sincere souls, but I cannot help but be reminded of the court of the Kauravas when Draupadi was disrobed. So many great personalities were present and did not speak up when they saw the Kauravas heinous act, therefore they were all implicated in the crime.
Furthermore we see that Thakura Vrndavana Dasa has said in his Caitanya Bhagavat that it is better to associate with a crowd of drunkards than a group of sannyasis who have offended a pure devotee.
Of course, this may raise the question, “What type of sadhu would actually want to be affiliated with a society whose leaders make aparadhas (and who encourage their members to also make aparadhas) on a regular basis?”
If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.
Simply remaining neutral is not an option when a senior Vaisnava like Sridhara Maharaja is offended.
They may have been implicated in the crime but the fact remains that Bhismadeva was a pure devotee of the lord even though he was on the side of Kauravas and he was much more advanced than all people who fought on the side of the Pandavas. Krsna personally came to his deathbed, which is a rare occurrence for anybody. He did not do so when anybody from the “good” Pandava army died. This incident shows the complexity of the situations a person will be facing and your reading of it shows little appreciation for the complexity.
Some devotees atleast can set good examples within an organization and get their disciples to follow proper etiquette and respect people outside the organization. That also is a good service to do.
The point I am trying to make is that your naive one-sided judgment of all devotees is counterproductive and many times you yourself will be guilty of doing the same things which you accuse others of doing.
A good point about Bhismadeva by Gaura Vijaya Prabhu. It is indeed a complex situation. However, I have my doubts that anyone we are talking about here is on the same level as such a mahajana.
Meditating upon the statement of Vrindavan Das Thakur will bring us back to the plane of reality and help us unravel such complexities . A devotee may have good intentions and try to steer clear of aparadha by setting a good example, but if he still associates with aparadhis he will ultimately become polluted.
Again, if we take the example of Bhisma, according to Visvanath’s commentary to Gita 2.5, the great Bhisma was contaminated by the wealth of the Kauravas and therefore took the wrong side. I think the lesson to be learned here is that even a great devotee must be careful of bad association.
Another important point to observe is that Bhisma (being the great mahajana that he was) was well aware of his mistake and deeply regretted it.
Krishna Das Kaviraj has also written that, “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. (Cc. Antya-lila 3.164)
So according to the above gastric statement, simply by the offences of a few, the whole society and its members become infected (in this case iskcon). The fact that some leaders, who did not actively participate in offending Sridhara Maharaja, will sit on the sidelines without saying anything is a symptom that they are also infected by these offences.
When a town becomes infected by plague, a doctor may stay back to help those who have become infected. However, if the plague is so rampant that all his efforts are in vain, the doctor should leave the town before he also gets infected by the disease.
Iskcon leaders propagated their blasphemy of Sridhara Maharaja in the 80’s. It is now 2010.
How much longer do the doctors plan to stay in town?
I don’t whether if a mahajana comes, we can recognize him/her with such judgmental attitudes. The choice is upto the individual what he/she wants to do. I have no say in deciding what other people should do. There is no one answer in every situation. That is all I have to say.
I agree with Gaura-Vijaya that it’s best to avoid sweeping generalizations of Iskcon devotees. The issue is extremely complex and devotees have their own reasons–some good some not so good–for staying in Iskcon. Even while being assaulted by Iskcon Sridhara Maharaja acknowledged that leaving Iskcon might not be best for everyone and said “that one should not leave Iskcon and come to him if it means losing ones purity of life.” Indeed, some Iskcon members are in my estimation purer and more dedicated devotees than many of the siksa and diksa disciples of Srila Sridhara Maharaja that I know.
The question remains as to why some of my godbrothers were spiritually drawn to Sridhara Maharaja while others were not. Eligibility perhaps, but this answer doesn’t provide the whole picture as Sridhara Maharaja’s followers have not all been stellar in every respect.
Another answer (the big answer) as to ‘why not’ can be found in the letters and recorded conversations of Srila Prabhupada. I was staying at Sridhara Maharaja’s math when the Rupanuga letter concerning Sridhara Maharaja surfaced and was being bandied about by Iskcon leaders. Before that I was hopeful, but after that letter surfaced I knew that true and full reconciliation between Iskcon and Sridhara Maharaja devotees was unlikely in my lifetime. That means the best that we can do is whenever possible try to set the record straight as Swami has done here, and to be good devotees.
Certainly it would have been easier if SP did not make any adverse comment about Sridhar Maharaja and his role in Gaudiya Math break-up, knowing that his disciples are not mature enough to handle such comments.
So according to the above gastric statement,
er – that should have been “Shastric” – and not “gastric” although its true that the statement may be difficult for some to digest… 🙂
I agree with Gaura-Vijaya and Brahma regarding Iskcon devotees in general and also conjecturing about specific devotees state of mind or humility.
It’s one thing to address the historical record, but quite another to make judgments about individuals or institutions.
The crow’s nest of misconception article addresses two specfic writings of one individual and it does so by sticking to facts, not by conjecture.
I know a lot of devotees( mahanidhi swami, jananivas prabhu and pankajangri prabhu) in ISKCON who are advanced souls and I don’t think you can say that there can be nobody in ISKCON who is advanced.
Hare Krishna! I’m not doubting it, but I was simply wondering what makes you think that the devotees you mentioned are advanced?
Ok maybe they are not advanced according to your standards. I won’t go there. My main point was that unless somebody has personally commented on Sridhar Maharaja or any other Vaisnava adversely, there was no need to just make comments about state of mind of Vaisnavas. I hope this is not a forum to discuss that. Like you have pointed out it is subjective and two people will not agree on who is advanced and who is not.
The discussion was about siddhanta here and you are judging the state of mind of certain individuals which I objected to.
But as demonstrated by your eagerness to come back and keep on attacking the devotees, I have failed in my purpose. I step out of the discussion. Enjoy criticizing other devotees whimsically in the name of glorifying Sridhar Maharaja, but I don’t want to be party to it. I withdraw.
Where did I make a comment about anybody’s state of mind? I simply wanted to know what was the criterion for considering these prabhus to be advanced. As I said, I am not saying they are not advanced – they may well be and I am sure they are much more advanced than I will ever hope to be. I just wanted to know what it was made you believe them to be advanced.
I’m extremely sorry if my question sounded like an attack when I assure you that it wasn’t.
Please do not withdraw entirely… we need disagreement. It helps us think across many perspectives. We need your perspective as well.
I am sorry Giridhari, your comments are not the ones I was really objecting to. It was more to do with other comments before. No apologies needed.
Dear Giridhari! Do you consider anyone to be an advanced devotee? If yes- could you share your insight and tell us what criterias you use to determine that someone is advanced?
I’m looking forward to your analysis of Drutakarma’s paper, Guru Maharaj! “Shridhar Maharaj mainly responsible for the breakup of the Gaudiya Math” etc etc… His analysis is based only on one source, and only informal room conversations at that. Depressing.
There is a difference between making “sweeping generalizations”, (which is not what I am doing here btw, I am addressing two especific names dropped in the discussion by someowne else than me – so I am not generalizing), and making an honest statement. The honest thing to state here is that there is, indeed, a time to leave Iskcon and that time is when one sees that Vaisnava aparadha has been officialized in the institution.
Tripurari Swami left – and look where that decision has brought him and has brought us. If no one had left, there would be no one to inform us of the right thing to do, to say, and to think.
Again, be real BD.
I think what you have said about “sweeping generalizations” and “making honest statements” is very true.
There are many statements by Sripad Tripurari Maharajs in this article that one may interpret as “sweeping generalizations” –
“…Prabhupada may have flown the coop of Iskcon”
“…fear monger them to embrace their crow’s nest of misconception.”
These, and similar statements could be said by some to be rather bold and hasty generalizations. After all, iskcon still makes many devotees and is the biggest preaching mission out there. How can one claim that Prabhupada has left it?
Is Maharaja claiming that those that remain in iskcon are crows?
Those who have associated with iskcon leaders closely and had once been in iskcon for decades know full well that Maharaja is not making sweeping generalizations. He is speaking from his own experiences and knowledge.
From the point of view of siddhanta (as we pointed out earlier with reference to Vrndavana Dasa and Kaviraja Goswami) I think it is very clear to those who are not sentimentalists that Prabhupada has indeed “flown the coop”.
And what are we to make of what remains of that society if indeed he has?
Sridhar Maharaja did associate with SP’s godbrothers who were critical of SP, but does that make Sridhar Maharaja a aparadhi, bad etc? Will you use Vrindavan das thakur’s analogy and condemn Sridhar Maharaja for associating with SP’s godbrothers, Keshava?
Forgive me Gaura Vijaya, but this statement is not very well thought out.
Firstly, can you kindly tell me the names of those critical godbrothers that Sridhara Maharaja associated with? As far as I am aware, Sridhara Maharaja’s company of close godbrothers was very limited and those that were in that company all respected Srila Prabhupada (Yajavara Maharaja, Krishna Dasa Babaji, Madhusudana Maharaja etc.)
Secondly, there is a huge difference between casual visits by godbrothers once a year or so and living and working together in the same institution!
I am not ‘using’ Vrindavana Das’s statement. I am merely providing a shastric quote in reference to the topic at hand rather than simply blowing off steam because the subject matter is too controversial or too difficult for me to digest.
Perhaps you can provide another similar quote to prove that Vrindavana Dasa Thakura is wrong and that one can continue to associate with offenders and one’s bhajan will remain uninterrupted?
I have provided at least 2 sastric quotes to establish my point. Please do likewise to prove your point….
Just for the record, let us hear what Sridhara Maharaja himself had to say about associating with iskcon. This is from a talk in July 1982:
Cornelius: Should we associate with the saints of ISKCON, or with the saints from Caitanya association or…?
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: (Laughs) That is a direct question you have put. If you want my clear impartial decision I may say that what they are doing, that is primary. They fail to catch the higher realization. They are going at present in a business way…business way. The connection with pure spirituality has been lessened there…degraded. As regards with the adherence to the highest ideal, the real ideal – according to me, they are deviated. Going lower, to the material conception of the thing. A monopoly of trade – that is, to enjoy the credit of their Gurudeva…exploiting the name of their guru. Going far down from the high ideal, the abstract thing, and more or less being materialized. Organization is to be admired according to the ideal for which they are organized. If there is deviation from the high ideal, then the organism, organic organization, will fetch a lower value. The ideal will have the best importance. Ideal. So, I cannot give ditto to their activities, so they are now preaching against me. And I am told that so much, that they have been preaching me as a demon.
And poison – I am injecting poison, according to them, because I say that they are below the standard. A big organization – that is good, approaching many souls for their delivery. That is one thing – that quantity. But as regards quality, they are lacking, according to my decision. Sincerely speaking, as I feel, I say so.
In the present situation, because the ISKCON has put me in the rank of their enemy, then I am compelled to say let who is in my connection – their connection may help you the best. I am bound to say like that because the other party, they have declared that I am their enemy. Still, one may have their association with internal cautiousness that what they say, that is not all, but there is something more. With this idea…what ISKCON says, that is the beginning of things and there is many things above. With this idea you may associate with them. But at the same time, when they will say ill about anything truth, that will create some offence. With that risk you have to mix with them.
Even Bon Maharaja associated with Sridhar Maharaja. I don’t want to get into details. Now you say one casual visit is ok, but more than that is not good. So are “you” going to judge how much is ok how much is not?
What you have given are not sastric quotes, they are things spoken in the bhava of Vrindavan das thakur to which BSST comments that the people Vrindavan das thakur attacks may get Krsna’s mercy.
As I said before, there is no point arguing as we both will not change our minds. We both are too stubborn: atleast I am. I am sure that you are not more advanced than many people in ISKCON. Of that I have no doubt now.
Unnecessary argument like I indulged in with Bhakti-ananda and you is more harmful to my bhajana than anything else they cite. This quote from unnecessary argument is from Narada Bhakti Sutra.
A devotee is free from the propensity to criticize others. This is from Nectar of instructions.
I know the limitations of throwing naked quotes from the sastra and just using them too literally. Why don’t you follow nectar of instructions and stop criticizing others?
Because, you feel other statements in sastra support your criticism. That is what I am saying you can keep on using sastra selectively to support what you want to prove and I to prove my point. There is no point to argue as you love criticizing other people to the extreme to defend one view.
This discussion is making me feel ill. It is truly disappointing. I feel deeply hurt by some of the comments made here.
I am sorry about this,Atmananda. But I made the point above to illustrate that one can be advanced(SSM) and still talk to devotees who blaspheme others( if circumstances are like that in this case SP’s godbrothers). However, this does not affect the advanced state of the devotee like SSM in the same way that Bhisma remains a pure devotee in spite of being on the side of the Kauravas.
Well, at least now you are informed of how the other side feels. Not that any of the mutual pain was necessary, but such has been the tragedy of this situation. The fact is that, as an institution, Iskcon continues to make the fundamental mistake of disrespecting sadhus. You say your guru allows you to associate with Tripurari Swami. Then the question for him is this: Why isn’t Tripurari Swami allowed to come and sit at your local Iskcon temple and give that association to every Iskcon member in the community? So there is inconsistency in that claim of humility, wouldn’t you say? And then, disregard for the questioning itself. Which in simple terms means a play at politics.
I guess you are just more humble so you can see these things that I don’t see.
Bhaktikanda – I don’t think this is a realistic or honest assessment. I don’t see other institutions reaching out and inviting Iskcon Guru’s to speak in their temples and ashramas either. Iskcon is not a monolithic society – there are many differing voices within the institution. On the other hand other institutions do have a single spiritual head – that does make Iskcon somewhat unique.
I think it’s ludicrous to claim that Iskcon is the only institution guilty of playing politics.
I think it is enough to say that you don’t feel inspired by Iskcon in general and that most probably you haven’t met anyone personally within Iskcon that you feel inspired to associate with. That’s your personal experience – one that obviously is not universally shared.
True, but they all speak in one voice in the form of the GBC resolutions. There are many apparently nice devotees in ISKCON, but the GBC has formalized and codified Vaishnava aparadha to the extent that anyone who supports the GBC, serves the GBC or obeys the GBC are implicated in the monstrosity as accomplices to the extent that they should not be given all the proper respect normally due the Vaishnava.
I believe that cooperating with the GBC, serving their dictates or obeying their rules is tantamount to being one of them.
Anyone who stays in ISKCON despite understanding the atrocities of the GBC are traitors to their own souls.
Devotees hanging around ISKCON and supporting the hundred-headed demon known as the GBC are simply fooling themselves if they believe that they are pleasing Srila Prabhupada by cooperating with the fools that destroyed his legacy.
Srila Prabhupada has long since divorced himself from the GBC.
They are a renegade band of plunderers masquerading as spiritual leaders of the Earth.
New devotees coming along can’t see it because they have no frame of reference. As such there are still people getting duped by the great evil commission that plundered ISKCON after the passing of Srila Prabhupada.
Audarya-lila das, I have seen in India Iskcon representatives invited and speaking at functions organized by other institutions. Perhaps you don’t get around enough.
I get around as much as I need to. Your comment doesn’t address the issue at all, it merely sidesteps it. You say that Iskcon doesn’t honor sadhus because who you consider to be one doesn’t get invited to their temples. I merely commented that I don’t see other institutions inviting Iskcon sadhus to speak in their temples either. If you have evidence to the contrary please go ahead and post it – but I would venture that even if such happens, it is the exception and certainly not the rule. I am aware of Iskcon functions where sadhus outside the organization have been invited to speak, but again, that is the exception and not the rule.
If the general leadership of Iskcon feels a particular person speaks in a way that is antaganistic to their mission or what they feel Srila Prabhupada represented and wanted for Iskcon I don’t think anyone should fault them for not inviting that person to speak in their temples.
At any rate, I am no defender of Iskcon or any institution, I just don’t appreciate statements that are made to sully their reputation and are misrepresentations themselves.
Why not leave it at this simple idea – follow your faith and allow others to follow theirs. Your faith in a particular sadhu really shouldn’t keep you from appreciating others.
Audarya-lila das, but I think most of us, the great majority really, does not get around enough. Certainly not as much as we need. The need is for progress. Fourty years after Srila Prabhupada saved us, the only grasp of the majority is still just that: that he saved us. But there is so much more to be understood; so much more to being saved.
What I am saying is that those who, by some grace, saw this, those who saw that there is need for guidance of advanced sadhus, like Tripurari Swami and Narasingha Swami saw, these leaders have fared much better than those who, either for fear of losing their identity as Iskconites, or just due to having a predominantly calculating mind, remained in Iskcon.
Even the so many neophytes we see going to Srila Narayana Maharaja and getting quickly excited there; even these have gotten to be a sort of improved type of neophytes, if you will, than those who don’t go, or don’t care to loosen up a bit.
And yeah, I don’t think you can prove that my words here on Iskcon are misrepresantion. I might have a hard time showing you evidence of Iskcon leaders being invited to speak in others institutions. But you will have a much harder time showing me evidence that I was misrepresenting facts when I said that Hari Sauri and by extention all of the GBC and then Iskcon are collectively implicated in officialized vaishnava-aparadha.
It just seems like that Srila Prabhupada maybe did not see as far into the future as to the years after his passing and see such a large, bulky, cumbersome and complicated federation of devotee communities all over the world. It seems that he also could not see into the future to see that someday after his passing many of his followers would defect to his Godbrothers who were the senior Gaudiya Vaishnavas on the planet after his passing and were Indian as well. Otherwise, would he really have made such harsh and critical statements as he is recorded to have said and created the horrible, fractured, political institution that has in his absence codified Vaishnava aparadha into the corporate by-laws.
It’s just real hard to believe that Srila Prabhupada could see into the future and knowingly create the fractured fairy-tale we know of today as ISKCON and the divisive guru wars that have been going on since the day Srila Prabhupada passed away.
Now, ISKCON leaders think that Vaishnava aparadha is quite acceptable as corporate law and have made teaching Vaishnava aparadha as part of the ISKCON curriculum.
Somehow, I just don’t think that was what Srila Prabhupada was really trying to accomplish with his missionary efforts.
It is so unfortunate that many, many devotees never set foot in an ISKCON temple even if it is nearby.
I think Srila Prabhupada assumed his followers would understand that what he could say about his godsiblings was not intended as a scriptural injunction by rigid and fanatical followers bent on restricting Prabhupada’s mission. I don’t think he imagined that. I can say something ill about my own siblings… but as soon as someone else does… you should see the love and protectiveness that arises. I think it is the same for Srila Prabhupada. We need to consider context, time, and circumstance. Is that too much to ask?
The attitudes of the disciples towards other gurus and Vaishnavas from other sangas are to a very large extent shaped by the attitudes and instructions of their guru. The climate of a particular institution is formed precisely in that fashion. We can beat around the bush in the name of Vaishnava etiquette, but unless we aproach this problem honestly there is very little hope of resolution. Yes, it may be very painful to admit, but gurus do not just share the glory of their institution, but are also at least partially responsible for its shortcomings. That is not ‘offensive thinking’ but a real life tangible fact and common knowledge in most religious organizations. Hari Sauri’s attitude reflects attitude of the entire institution, which has not changed very much in 40 years and is very unlikely to change in the future.
While we may not be able to do much about the past, those Vaishnavas who have the awesome responsibility of guiding others as gurus should realize that their disciples will more often than not follow the mood and attitude of their guru. Maybe in a couple of generations all this partisan bickering, backstabbing, quote twisting, and general lack of mutual respect will vanish from our line. I certainly hope so.
The claim of some persons in ISKCON is that those who leave are rejecting the so-called order of Srila Prabhupada or are even offenders. The claim of some persons outside ISKCON is that those who remain are implicated in offenses by some of its members.
Both of these claims exclude the possibility of examining individual circumstances and extending empathy. In both cases the assertion is guilty by association. In essence I don’t see much difference between these two ideas. They both look like “society consciousness” to me. Freedom should be extended to devotees to choose where they can best make advancement. This is what I’ve heard on good authority.
Firstly from my side, I am sorry that some of the comments in the discussion have upset you. That was never my intention. Forgive me.
However, rather than sink to the realm of sentimentalism and speculation, I have been trying to produce shastric references in order to clarify certain points of this topic.
You have said:
Freedom should be extended to devotees to choose where they can best make advancement. This is what I’ve heard on good authority.
Without trying to sound challenging, may I ask if you can provide a reference from the scriptures or from the previous acaryas to back this idea up? Who is the “good authority” that you have heard this from?
It’s somewhat difficult to understand how one could possibly make advancement by remaining in a society where the leaders openly encourage offenses to senior Vaisnavas nor try to curb such offenses.
After all, isn’t that the reason why stalwarts such as Sripad Tripurari Maharaja left iskcon in the first place?
Well….. – since you like quoting Srila Sridhara Maharaja – how about this for you:
We are faith makers, not faith breakers. It is a huge thing to have some divine faith. Faith should be nutured and allowed to grow.
That isn’t a direct quote – don’t have the time to find the quotes and copy and paste them here. But I assume you are quite familiar with his words.
Last time I checked it was 2010, not 1982. Times change and people grow and advance. It is also quite obvious that Srila Sridhara Maharaja was hurt by the distasteful things that some were saying about him in Iskcon and his words in the quote you provided from 1982 seem to reflect that. His words are a natural reaction to such.
Anyway, as devotees we should be generous and we should seek to encourage others. When we see an obvious problem, as in the case of Hari Sauri’s blog posts that this article was written to address, then it is quite appropriate to set the record straight since there was distortion of historical events.
Other than that, there will be differences and devotees will be attracted to a sadhu based on their own pychological makeup and their specific adhikara in bhakti.
If faith would be legislated, then it obviously wouldn’t be free – so Atmananda’s point from good authority is not only well reasoned by certainly also corraborated by the ‘guardian of faith’ himself.
The person I heard it from is an authority to me and they have knowledge of the sastra. That person is kind, benevolent and affectionate.
You must also be a very knowledgeable person. Certainly you will find the answer in the sastra which will satisfy you. And if you cannot, certainly the opinion of your Sri Gurudeva will bring peace to your heart.
I concur with you Atmananda.
Otherwise, while Sridhara Maharaja was offended by Iskcon he understood that some felt they needed the support it offered and he did not fault them if they remained within in silent opposition. You can see some evidence of this in the excerpt quoted by Kesava.
But take note, at the end of the text Sridhara Maharaja stated “With that risk you have to mix with them.”
After hearing everything he has said about the lack of quality and their offensive mentality towards the truth, why take the risk?
Nitaisundara, my ‘off-putting tone’, as you call it, is in reality not anywhere near as offensive as the tone of the resolutions officially made by Iskcon regarding sadhus outside of the institution. Do you want a discussion on the matter or merely diplomacy?
Regarding your shock at my position in regard to Tripurari Swami vis a vis Srila Narayana Maharaja vis a vis Srila Sridhara Maharaja , you shouldn’t be shocked. I do admire Tripurari Swami for his leaving Iskcon for the sangha of Srila Sridhara Maharaj, but believe he misses the forest for the trees, so to speak, in relation to Srila Narayana Maharaja. Can I not have an opinion?
“Scolded”? “double standard”? I never scolded Tripurari Swami; I questioned him, and I hope you realized that the off-putting tone in this really is yours.
And finally, that Narayan Maharaja’s (you don’t see fit to call him Srila NM?) history in relation to Sridhara Maharaja is far from spotless” is a highly disputed charge. I have heard both sides of the charge, which I am quite sure you haven’t. So my opinion is based on experience that goes beyond yours and beyond what you have heard from me on this board.
ps: Srila Sridhara Maharaja may have said that some might stay in the institution and work from inside. But the reality we see today is that those who left have fared better, much better. To deny this is to spin your wheels unecessarily.
I would dispute that charge. I don’t think all members in Narayana Maharaja’s camp are advanced and doing great. Not even with our group or any group. In fact, I hate to say that I feel many of Narayana Maharaja’s followers are as fanatic as some ISKCON members. Also ask Narayana Maharaja about his opinion on Radhanath Swami or Kirtananda Swami whom he hugged. You need to ask your guru personally and follow his instructions. I don’t think he shares your opinion publicly. Unfortunately I am not advanced enough to approach him. Otherwise I would have recommended him that his disciples are too loose and they make Vaisnava aparadha more than anybody else.
Narayana Maharaja had made comments about Sridhara Maharaja’ allowing fishing. You can deny that but I am sorry this is turning out to be the most ridiculous discussion.
I do not mean to say that Iskcon has not been offensive, and nothing in my post indicates that. To then depict what you say that I said as me merely wanting diplomacy, as opposed to a discussion, is your linguistic gymnastics.
What I am saying is that your behavior in this thread has not been justified. It is indeed tasteless, and devoid of ettiquette for you to challenge a guru’s standing directly to his disciple, but that only makes you tactless, not necessarily wrong. However, I do not think you are justified in terms of substance either. Srila Sridhara Maharaja was not seen to behave like you are, not considering the effect of your words on people’s faith, and he was both the direct object of vilification and possessed a deeper understanding and sorrow for the implications of Vaishnava aparadha.
At the end of your post you accuse me of denying that those who left Iskcon “fared better”. This has nothing to do with my point, and again puts words into my mouth. My point was that Srila Sridhara Maharaja showed by his example that things are not as black and white as you are depicting them. We can look to him for a standard with which to think about the situation. And while there may be many ways to think about it (for example, a large part of me resonates with Kesava’s idea that if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem [but even that cannot be daintily defined and used to beat people over the head with]) we know that Srila Sridhara Maharaja’s generous outlook is a siddhantic one. And I would think rather than trying to bash a disciple’s faith in his guru, even if you think that faith is misappropriated, you would adopt Sridhara Maharaja’s stance when dealing directly with someone’s disciple. Do you think these bold statements you make are a display of your devotion to Sridhara Maharaja, who was so careful to try to not disturb anyones faith in Mahaprabhu, even if it were under dangerous guidance?
Also note that I am not merely disagreeing in principle and saying you should act like you think differently for sake of amicable dealings, I think you are wrong about the particulars of the discussion as well.
Regarding your previous statements to Tripurari Maharaja, I must disagree that “questioning” is all that took place. See your statements (all addressed directly to him [emphasis added by me]):
“But its always recomended, on the side of caution, that at least we should consult with senior Vaishnavas. You didn’t want to do that. And now we are in a bit of a mess…”
“This is a tradition not so much about Krishna as it is about devotees. Skip the devotee and your game is over, no matter how expert you may be at manipulating concepts.”
“Surely you are aware that not just myself, a lower rank devotee, but loftier, experienced and in leading position devotees dispute such ‘evidence’, and are indeed scretching their heads as to what really is that you are trying to do with the sampradaya.”
You told him he made a mess and manipulated concepts. Your admiration is lip service.
To conclude that I am less familiar with the situation than you are (presumably because I did not reach the same conclusion, meaning yours is the only reasonable and objective stance) is merely a baseless assumption. However, I do not wish to take the discussion in the direction of those particulars, my only point in bringing that up was to point out your double standard, and I am satisfied that I have done that for a number of readers who also know the particulars of that history.
Nitaisundar, I have said that, in my opinion, I admire Tripurari Swami in one issue and not so much on another. If you insist in calling this ‘double standard’, then thats your decision. I surely don’t think you have ‘showed’ any double standard by definition. Maybe you need to examine the issue more carefully before lashing out insults, which, by the way, according to your own suggestion, wouldn’t certainly be the attitude to have if representing the spirit of Srila Sridhara Maharaja.
Again you don’t think he is worthy enough to be called Srila Tripurari Swami though you insist that everyone call Narayana Maharaja Srila Narayana Maharaja. I hope that is not double standard either.
I have understood what you said.
You have missed what I am saying, however. I did not say it was a double standard to appreciate some things about Tripurari Maharaja and not others, I said it was a double standard to denigrate someone for their supposed offense to Sridhara Maharaja while promoting someone else (for whom the evidence of offensiveness is tangible) as the final authority of Gaudiya Vaishnavism on planet Earth. Thus you are applying one criterion to one person and a different criterion to another. This is exactly the standard definition of “double standard”. Also, I have not lashed out insults, I have only stated facts and made reasonable value judgments of those facts. This is not in conflict with Srila Sridhara Maharaja’s policy of not carelessly endangering the faith of others.
With regard to Narayan Maharaja and Sridhara Maharaja’s history being “highly disputed”, such disputes are not rooted in legitimately hazy history, they are merely post hoc efforts to conceal the truth. Sridhara Maharaja’s view of the situation was certainly not hazy, and his is the view that matters since he was target of offense. Narayana Maharaja apologized to him (there goes the ability to deny the situation), and Sridhara Maharaja, as was his policy, told Narayana Maharaja that the attack must be counteracted in the manner in which it was made—in this case, print. This never happened, and Srila Sridhara Maharaja passed away with the issue in this unresolved state.
Note that I am merely stating the history as it pertains to your statements on this website, I am not trying make other claims about Narayana Maharaja.
Regarding your claim that everyone who left Iskcon faired better than those who stayed. This is not true. “Fairing better” is relative to ones adhikara and potential for advancement. There are people who went (and go) to Sridhara Maharaja, Narayan Maharaja, and anyone, who then simply become a fanatic for that camp. Weak faith is not abandoned with the institution, so such people must have enemies no matter where they go. In my view your statements on this thread and others are testament to this fact. There are people who made more advancement in their own spiritual life by remaining in Iskcon than they would had they left. Sridhara Maharaja knew the subtleties of these issues and therefore did not condemn every member of Iskcon as you seem to.
Dispute this all you want but it is merely sidestepping the fact that you hold two mutually exclusive views. You are doing the very same thing you are attacking. This hypocrisy is obvious to an objective eye.
How about calling Tripurari Swami, “Srila” Tripurari Swami also? Or is that Srila is only reserved for few of your choice.
There is a whole lot of imposing one’s own faith on others in this discussion, and the arguers aren’t admitting the simple fact that faith is subjective. What good is there in pretending that we can be objective about our faith while holding an agenda to bring others to our point of view?
Those who’ve stepped outside the iskcon institution have been guided by their experiences and their faith. Those who stay within are guided by another kind of faith. Maybe that isn’t such a bad faith, the hope to gradually be able to influence that juggernaut of an organization towards the right direction and to please Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada in the process. Who are we to say that a person is misdirected or has ill motive, even if it is not the way for us? Really, it would just be speaking from your own faith to say that such a path is faulty.
This brings up the question; is there any use in preaching, trying to influence others? The truth must be told, but I think the answer is that only people who are moving closer, eligible, possess adhikara to share your faith are able to be influenced. All the commentators here share a faith in Srila Sridhar Maharaj, and this article was in defense of his divine character. He taught that we are our faith. So let’s live our faith and let others live theirs.
I actually think some very good points were made here, but I don’t see the value in presuming the motives of someone specific like Sripad Radhanath Swami when he is not here to speak himself. I can say that my experience with him has only been very positive. I have heard him praise devotees outside of iskcon, I have heard him protest the slander of Prabhupada’s godbrothers and I have experienced him being very encouraging of and honoring faith in sadhus outside of iskcon. Might I like to see him making huge revolutionary protest against bad GBC policies, sure; but then I’m making him into another man than he is. And I like him, respect him and honor him just the way he is now.
Radanath Swami isn’t here by his own choice, not because he is not welcomed. He should in fact be here. He should be responding where there is questioning of his motives and his actions, past and present. With great power comes great responsibility. The leadership of Iskcon picks only the power, leaving out the responsibilty. For every disciple or admirer of a guru in Iskcon you can bet that there is at least two other people heartbroken, disillusioned, and confused perhaps for life. How long and how many more atrocities should happen before we actually put a face, or faces, on Iskcon? Is it only the institution which is dysfunctional, while the individuals who run it are never to be touched? When we speak of Iskcon there is an actual governing body commission to it, consisting of individuals, who are supposed to act according to certain standards. And when so many people are dissatisfied with those individuals, there is great chance that they will be questioned. Whether they show up to respond to accountability, that seems to be of no great concern to them.
It seems like you are committed to generalizing everything, while I’m trying to create an understanding of individuality.
I am no defender of the GBC, but it is way too convenient to take away the individuality of each member and slam each one of them for the the whole state of iskcon. I can understand the tendency to do so though… it is a common way of thinking.
People say that the U.S. is a corrupt, greedy, self-serving country with no respect for policy of other nations – there is plenty of evidence. People with a little more refined understanding feel that it is not “the U.S.”, it is the government, but anybody who lives in that country enjoys benefits from such corrupt leadership and enjoys the spoils of the slave labor and exploitation of other countries. If you don’t move out of the U.S. you are implicit in the exploitation…
Seeing with a little less generalization you can understand that the government is responsible for the policy and that within the government there are a few nice and decent people who aren’t sleeping with their secretaries, taking bribes or looking out only for their long term interest. Some are there sincerely trying to represent the interest of their constituents. When it comes time to vote on a particular issue, they may play some politics to get things their way, but it really does come down to final votes making policy.
I know the analogy doesn’t completely translate because nobody votes their GBC in(!), but I really just don’t see how you can put so much responsibility onto an individual person to control a society. As Audarya-lila pointed out, in a different organizational structure it is easier to say where the buck is stopping. If you have problems with the policies of various Gaudiya missions, you can focus your complaint to the top, usually one person whose opinions and guidance have influenced the whole thing. Iskcon is not that easy, and while many have endured only pain and suffering by it’s leadership and have found the necessity to move out, others enjoy the benefits and wish to remain citizens. The reasoning is always individual.
In regards to Radhanath Swami, I would like to stop talking specifically about him. I have only experienced that he has a policy of stressing avoidance of vaisnava-aparadha. You can disagree with how he executes that, but in my experience it is influential to a large number of people. As an individual, I do not see him defend or promote GBC policy.
In general(!) generalizations are too easy, and individuality is very complex.
I am where I’m at because of my experiences and faith; as is the case with you. Speak your truth, but respect the faith and experience of others.
Is there no problem in your Gurudeva’s institution? Is everything running smoothly there? I personally feel that your institution also has a lot of problems and is committing sizeable aparadhas.
I am very fearful about what will happen after the departure of your Gurudeva. The society will have similar problems like ISKCON.
You and the one’s you love have been mistreated. Many have disrespected your Sri Gurudeva in many ways. They have called into question his character and conduct. They have judged him unfairly. They have spread lies about him. The offenses have been so great and so grievous that the possibility for reconciliation seems hopeless. It is indeed a very very heartbreaking reality. It is for this reason that I remain aloof from ISKCON. I’m really sorry that you have been hurt and that you Sri Gurudeva has been so terribly disrespected. It is indeed tragic. But I think that you have every reason to hope for your own spiritual progress because you have been blessed with such good association and are in the hands of such a capable Sad Guru. Certainly he can bring peace to your heart and give you Krishna prema.
This is such an unbecoming claim. It is not every guru’s responsibility to answer to every John and Jane Doe that attacks them on the internet. Especially when, unfortunately, the internet is rife with such content. This democratic idea that someone superior to us should be accountable to us is alright in politics, but it does not translate into Vaishnava interactions. Lord knows that if this were reasonable Iskcon gurus would not be the only ones forced to be defending themselves on the internet all day.
Nitaisundar, you named this article “Crow’s Nest of Misconception”. Some of us thought the issue was a ‘crow’s nest of misconception’, i.e., Hari Sauri’s renewed aparadha and, by extention, the implicating silence of the GBC – fellows with names and addresses. If you actually meant a vaguery then perhaps it would have been better to title you article “A General Crow’s Nest of Misconception By Those Who We Nevertheless Should Not Bother With Our Silly Heartbreaks”. Something on those lines.
Firstly, I did not name this article, my Guru Maharaja did. Secondly, I do not even understand how this constitutes a reply to my points (or what statements of mine it is a reply to). I suppose you are saying that you were merely keeping with the thrust of the article by naming other people who should be included the discussion. The problem then becomes, as others have said, that you are inordinately generalizing. Being a member or guru of Iskcon is different than using your influence to blatantly rewrite history, which is what Hauri Sauri has done, among other things.
Otherwise, this is the third or fourth reply in which you have either misrepresented, misunderstood, or avoided what I have said. No one is ignorant as to what such tactics actually mean.
Even Bon Maharaja associated with Sridhar Maharaja. I don’t want to get into details.
Did he? I don’t remember seeing him there. In fact, in relation to Bon Maharaja, generally speaking, Sridhara Maharaja didn’t have many good things to say about him, so I can fully understand why you would not want to get into details – it will only make your position weaker.
What you have given are not sastric quotes, they are things spoken in the bhava of Vrindavan das thakur to which BSST comments that the people Vrindavan das thakur attacks may get Krsna’s mercy.
The quotes are in shastra, therefore they are shastric. Are you going to be the one who will now tell us which verss found in shastra are authentic and which one are “simply bhava” and should be ignored? You pontificate about not making Vaisnava-aparadha, but what you have said is most certainly shastra-ninda and therefore nama-aparadha.
What about the quote from Kaviraja Goswami? Was that also “spoken in bhava”? From this, I presume that any shastic quote that doesn’t fit in with your beliefs will be not be acceptable to you.
As I said before, there is no point arguing as we both will not change our minds. We both are too stubborn: at least I am.
I agree. This wrangling is getting nowhere. I fully withdraw from this discussion.
I am sure that you are not more advanced than many people in ISKCON. Of that I have no doubt now
Well, since you know me so intimately after a few postings, I guess you must be right…
Thanks for ending this on the point of ignoring my sastric quotes from NOI and defending just yours. It is useless to argue. We agree to disagree as is the case in such things.
At times Sridhara Maharaja said that it was a risk to leave Iskcon–other times he said it was a risk to stay in Iskcon. Both statements are simultaneously true
Leaving Iskcon is risky because of the support it offers—in most cases the devotion of those who leave the society degrades quite quickly and this happened to many who were once stalwart followers of Sridhara Maharaja. Indeed, a number of his new sannyasa initiates went home to mother soon after they realized there was little or no support for them outside of Iskcon.
Staying in Iskcon is of course risky for the reasons offered here—Vaisnava aparadha, which on another level is worse than going home to mother.
Both statements being true (according to the individual) Sridhara Maharaja offered some harmony in how he dealt with devotees of Iskcon. Overall he was always cordial, compassionate, and extremely generous with them; and he expected his followers to be the same. Thus while recognizing and understanding the offence there was to be no room for cruelty or fanaticism in our dealing with Iskcon members—GBC or otherwise. This is what Sridhara Maharaja wanted.
All considered he said that his followers should go there own way, and “never make a campaign against Iskcon, the great society that is spreading Krsna consciousness throughout the world.” He said that he feared this very much.
So we should try to be generous and compassionate with them and above all avoid becoming GBC or Iskcon haters!
Nitaisundara, my not responding to your points is intentional. I apologize but I don’t think it merits that much. I suspect that it wouldn’t make a difference if I did, tit for tat or otherwise – you have made up your mind on the subject of ‘Bhaktikanda’.
I am interested in discussing the issue of a crow’s nest of misconception; a matter in which I feel I somehow share in at least some of Tripurari Swami’s sentiments. Or at least what I perceive to be his sentiments in the matter.
Regardless of who titled the article, in it its clear (to me) Swami meant to address Hari Sauri’s misconception and by extention the misconception of the whole of the GBC and consequently of Iskcon.
So even if, according to you, mine too is a crow’s nest of misconception, still its the other nest which is under discussion in this space. So please.
To Nitaisundara das: Its true, Radhanath Swami is not obliged to come here and reply to us Tom, Dick and Jane (although it is said that the sadhu is a also a servant, dasyo smi, the best of servants in fact, and teaches by example). But to Tripurari Swami, yes he should come and give an explanation to Tripurari Swami. And to the leaders of Sri Caitanya Saraswat Math as well – the GBC/ISKCON has a long overdue explaining to give there. Govinda Sundar Maharaja went to the other world without hearing a proper ractification from Iskcon. The loss is Iskcon’s, evidently.
I never saw Narayana Maharaja coming and replying everywhere where he is criticized. Does that mean he is not a servant in your estimation?
It is ridiculous, there will be hundreds of people like you just making allegations on the internet and then somebody has to just reply to that.
Can you ask Narayana Maharaja, who is your guru, about his opinion of Radhanath Swami instead of giving your judgement here? I doubt his shares your judgement. Kindly ask him and come back. Your posts will not meet his approval.
Gaura-Vijaya, I am assuming you have been addressing me for a few posts now: How would you know who is my guru?
As for Srila Narayana Maharaja replying to someone calling him on some issue, by what I have seen, he most certainly does reply within proper etiquette. He certainly isn’t replying to any Tom, Dick or Jane though, and there is no much objection to be raised there, don’t you think?
Yes, within the context of the discussion at hand, I do have an opinion on the swamis in Iskcon, including Radhanath Swami. If expressing that opinion is not allowed, I just need to be informed, thats all.
Why don’t you address Tripurari Swami as Srila Tripurari Swami? You didn’t address a simple question like that. You ask people to say Srila Narayana Maharaja instead of Naryana Maharaja and not doing so according to you is lack of respect. You are not his disciple. That is a good thing because you don’t need even ask him about whether his approves your opinion. You are free to say what you want.
This forum is not about philosophical discussion and attacking philosophical misconceptions, not about individual opinions about sanayasis’ s standing and state of mind. That is what I think it is. There are some forums which cater to your needs better. http://www.harekrsna.org/gbc. In these forums you can criticize ISKCON and gbc freely. Though you will have to hear criticisms of Sridhar Maharaja and Narayana Maharaja also. Anybody apart from Srila Prabhupada can be criticized there. A good place to be in.
Correction “This forum is *about philosophical discussion”
Why don’t I address Tripurari Swam as Srila? Honestly I am not very acquainted with the details of proper titles vis a vis ranks, but I never see anybory calling Tripurari Swami “Srila”. I don’t think its apropriate to call him “Sripad” either since we are not equals.
In any case, my point is that even if we are to reserve especial honor to our own guru, in general we have to understand that the generation of Vaisnavas brought up by Srila Prabhupada are not at the same level as the contemporaries of Srila Prabhupada. This mix up and consequent all out license to disrespect anyone outside the intitution is ingrained in Iskcon culture, neraly from its inception. Right after Srila Prabhupada departed neophytes took over and spun a culture of vaisnava aparadha either due to ignorance of calculated motivation. Unfortunately this culture lasts to this day, as it would be expected.
This is a response from one of Bhakti Sundar Govinda Maharaja’s disciple to Radhanath Swami. So even his disciples don’t seem to possess that problem which you possess. If Radhanath Swami was so guilty why will Bhakti sundar Govinda Maharaja even talk to him?
“Jaya Srila Radhanatha Gosvami Maharaja.Thank you for having loving exchanges with Srila Bhakti Sundara Govinda Maharaja.Since Srila Gurudeva considers you as the pillar of His Iskcon we are begging you to guide us now through this time and help us understand how we will all be able to step it up and make this movement explode in a dynamic inspiring tsunami of the propigation of the Divine Medicine for this dark age this Sri Krsna Chaitaya Sankirtana Revolutionary Global Movement For the respiritualization of the world and beyond
For example, this web site was attacked by hackers in the last few days. I wonder who could possibly have had motive to do that?
My guess it is some ISKCON affiliated person reacting to this very topic in discussion.
That is the kind of cowards they are. They lurk in the background hanging on every word and then launching a cyber attack upon Tripurari Maharaja’s web sanga when they find less than sanguine opinions here about their ISKCON leaders. They have done a lot worse than that.
Someday the reactionary element will even the score and many of the monsters will be slain in a frontal assault upon their position which is honeycombed with openings and fully exposed to attack.
I also thought so, but after investigating it seems like no devotee is behind the attack.
To Nitaicandra: Coming back to double standard, its all very nice for Radhanath Swami or Bhakti Caru Swami or any such Iskcon leaders to individually make appearances in public and give and get pats on the back while in those photo opps. But then, for them to turn right around and sit at Mayapur meetings and sign resolutions that ban sadhus – thats what I call the mother of all double standards. Indeed, this is the double standard targeted in this discussion and the one you would do well getting yourself worked up over if you understand what really is going on.
So instead of addressing your own double standards, you will continue to deflect blame on others. Everybody is understand what is going on. If bhakti sundara maharaja has no problem with radhanath swami what is your problem?
Second can you ask Narayana Maharaja whether he approves of your post? Please ask him. I repeat that hundred times so that it goes into your head once.
I was just thinking of Śridhara Maharaja`s statement about honoring the faith of others. How to avoid possibility of breaking someone`s faith while dealing with the issues of aparadha and distorting of the facts by their authorities?
I think what SSM was talking about was different. As I understand it his statement was referring to the zonal system of forcing people to get initiated by the guru in whose zone they served even if they had faith in a guru in a different zone. He said that was not proper, that the free flow of faith had to be honored and that people should be able to take initiation according to who inspired them and not according to the zone they served in.
Otherwise, if bhakta Fred has faith in an institution and its leaders but the realities of aparadha and distortion of the facts by those same leaders is brought, out I would think a loss of faith in them on Fred’s part would be a natural result. It would then depend on the level of Fred’s sukrti whether or not he would seek out a qualified sadhu for guidance.
Interfering with Bhakta Fred’s faith in his guru can be dangerous and an aparadha in itself as most beginners are simply not capable of selectively rejecting the advice of their guru and carrying on progressively in Krsna consciousness.
My experience during my last years in Iskcon (1979-80) was that once Bhakta Fred’s faith in his guru, authorities, and the GBC was broken he was more likely to just drop out and go home than he was to take off for Nadia to sit at the feet of Sridhara Maharaja. Things are somewhat different now with the advent of internet free-speech/free-slander, and devotees now seem to have become more thick skinned. Still, I wouldn’t go out of my way to assault someone’s faith in GBC/Iskcon knowing that they may very likely just give up altogether, as broken faith is very hard to repair.
However, things are different if bhakta Fred comes to us with his faith already broken. In that case Sridhara Maharaja said that we should do ‘relief work’ and try to help the disaffected devotee. Otherwise, Sridhara Maharaja repeatedly told us not to go about disturbing people’s faith in Iskcon or Iskcon gurus, and when rabid anti-Iskconers came to him he would advise them not to condemn Iskcon “wholesale” because not everything was bogus there. He would say how could it all be bogus? Iskcon was started by Swami Maharaja (Srila Prabhupada), so The Holy Name is there, and Mahaprabhu is there, and he will rectify things.
Overall Sridhara Maharaja called for a balanced approach in regard to Iskcon and that’s what Swami does when he discusses these issues through Sanga. The idea being to deal with the aparadha while maintaining some modicum of respect for Srila Prabhupada’s institution and the work that it does in bringing people to Krsna consciousness.
Well said Brahma. I wasn’t advocating trying to break bhakta Fred’s faith, I was referring to the fact that it was very often the leadership who did not honor his faith and made people like him get initiated by gurus he had no faith in. If he is not a total dolt and sees that the leadership tends toward less than spiritually sound policies and/or if the guru he ends up initiated by falls down then it’s natural that his faith will be shaken, perhaps even broken, depending on his level of sukrti.
GV, I don’t represent Srila Narayana Maharaja in ANY way. If you are assuming that I do, please don’t. And I am not interested in placing any question to him presently, not even on your behalf. Indeed, if you have a question yourself, I suggest you take it to maharaja personally, for that is the process of inquiry – one asks according to one’s necessity.
Regarding my position in relation to Tripurari Swami vis a vis Srila Sridhara Mahraja vis a vis Srila Narayana Maharaja, I have already addressed that. Please find my words on that here in this thread in reply to Nitaisundara. Thank you.
I think it would be helpful if it was clarified as to how the GBC finally disavowed Srila Sridhar Maharaja. At the Mayapur meetings in 1982 an incident happened that change ISKCON forever. It so happened that year the Jaya Tirtha took a trip on his own to Guam to visit his birthplace. On the way back to Mayapur he stopped off in Thailand a bought some pot. His servant at the time told me what happened after he arrived in Calcutta. He said JT was stoned out of his gourd. This servant took the pot and flushed it but JT was morose so when he arrived at Mayapur he went across the river and took shelter of Srila Sridhar Maharaja. The meetings were going on without JT and after all the resolutions had been approved they were sent to the temple presidents. It is said when the TP’s saw them they added that since devotees are not taking shelter in ISKCON but going to Navadvip to take shelter of Srila Sridhar Maharaja this should be addressed. Some GBC seeing this as a control issue sent a strongly worded statement that this should be done now. After hearing these statements one of JT’s prominent disciples as he was leaving to go to Navadvip to tell JT got into a fight near the gate of Chandrdoya Mandir and got a bloody nose. He then went to see his guru JT who freaked (seeing his condition) and told him to go back to Chandrdoya and tell all his disciples he wanted to see them. This action precipitated JT leaving ISKCON with many disciples and the upshot was that Sridhar Maharaja was at least partly to blame and so was blacklisted. Not only was this a grave offence but many statements from leading GBC men started to come out regarding Sridhar Maharaja which were very painful and quite wrong causing even more offences. Up until this point I had always followed my GBC and Temple authority but after they replaced JT with a totally rapacious GBC I knew my days were numbered. The offences created in Mayapur that year are still reverberating to this day. 2 years after JT left he was gruesomely murdered by that same disciple but for me that was only the beginning of the calamity for ISKCON. Many times I have asked the same question “is Srila Prabhupada still in ISKCON” but I think the greater question would be: is ISKCON still ISKCON? YS Indra
The information on the preceding post is not entirely accurate. In 1980 the Iskcon GBC consulted Sridhara Maharaja about the strange activities of Jayathirtha and after the discussion suspended Jayatirtha from initiating and forced him to take sannyasa from Kirtananda, which he soon renounced.
Sridhara Maharaja: “Jayapataka Maharaja came to me saying that Jayatirtha Maharaja is showing much sentimentalism and saying that this is all transcendental ecstasy. He asked me, is it so? I replied, this cannot be transcendental sentiment. What is the proof? I showed him, these are the scriptural quotes and the facts, and therefore we can never accept it as transcendental sentiment.”
Jayatirtha had renounced his sanyassa and was more or less in Iskcon limbo—when Bhakti Caru Maharaja brought him to see Sridhara Maharaja, who then inspired him and temporarily put him back on the right track.
Sridhara Maharaja: “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…After taking a bath in the Ganges, he again took his former sannyasa dress at the place where Mahaprabhu took his sannyasa. I tried my best to reinstate Jayatirtha Maharaja to the old role of a sannyasi to save the good name of ISKCON, and I also sent him to Katwa where Mahaprabhu himself took sannyasa, for his inspiration and impression that he can be firm in his future life. Afterwards he told, “Yes, I have got the strength. As if I have gotten from Swami Maharaja, I have got sannyasa.” They asked me to touch the kaupina and the danda, and I did it.”
Visnu Maharaja writes: “After Jayatirtha Maharaja was secretly sent to Sridhara Maharaja, he reemerged with the miraculous effect of his return to sanity. In fact, his enthusiasm took him on an expansive preaching tour in which he did not hold back from informing all of the greatness of Srila Sridhara Maharaja. This public acclaim for Sridhara Maharaja voiced by one of the society’s gurus was too much for the GBC to bear. In March 1982 the GBC insisted that either Jayatirtha remove Sridhara Maharaja from his heart or leave ISKCON. He chose with dignity the latter. Yet the GBC could not even honor his nobility, what to speak of his spiritual principle of acceptance of a siksa guru, one whom they themselves had sent him to, one that Srila Prabhupada had introduced to the mission.
Rather than allow Jayatirtha to peacefully follow their own policy, upon his leaving the society the GBC mounted a campaign to expose his deviations to all the devotees from whom they themselves had been hiding them. They thus implied that they had rejected Jayatirtha, while Sridhara Maharaja had sheltered him, and in effect sanctioned his avaisnava habits, habits that he had, while under the shelter of Sridhara Maharaja, given up.”
In their own interest the GBC had concealed Jayatirtha’s problems. It was only after he had refused abide by the GBC order to “banish Sridhara Maharaja from his heart” was he expelled from Iskcon. Thus, in reality, he was not excommunicated for intoxication or any other deviation. Regardless of their official reasons, in truth Jayatirtha was expelled from Iskcon because of his affinity for Sridhara Maharaja.–Brahma
When and where did that conversation take place between Srila Prabhupada and Srila Sridhara Maharaja where he offers to build him the elevator, please ?
In Navadwipa at Sridhara Maharaja’s ashram. And it was recorded and is available to read in the folio.
Thank you Maharaja. I was looking for the date as I am responding to Visvakarma prabhu’s post on FB to New Remuna Dhama ( Toronto ) on how in 1975, SP said we should avoid all of his godbrothers association, after Bon Maharaja started to reinitiate some. My point is that we have to see time place and circumstance and not take statements out of context. SP also asked Gora Govinda maharaja and Bhagavat to serve with Bhakti Vaibhava Puri Maharaja, and had Madhusudana Maharaja as one of the trustees for the Bhaktivedanta Charity Trust. By reminding people of these statements, I almsot feel like some would view me as “anti ISKCON” and “Pro Gaudiya Matha”, but I am not taking anyones side except for Prabhupada’s side. He wanted us to all cooperate together in a loving spirit to push on Mahaprabhu’s mission. I explained that Srila Sridhara Maharaja was an exception to these rule of avoidance of Godbrothers, and I am sure there are a few other exceptions, though I think everyone has now passed away.
This conversation took place in March of 1977. I’ve long felt that it’s important to note that Srila Prabhupada says this is his “earnest request.”
Gaura dasa, Perhaps these two articles that I wrote addressing these issues will be helpful to you. Brahma
For Philosophy My Godbrother B.R. Sridhara Maharaja
Make arrangements for your Godbrothers
Thank you very much Brahma das Prabhu for those links. I have shared them in our reunion sanga of 822 disciples of Srila Prabhupada. I have been seraching for the statement where Srila Prabhupada asks Srila Sridhara Maharaja to become the president of ISKCON but have had no success thus far. Do you or anyone else have that quote with the date , please ? Thank you very much.
Hare Krsna. Although I frequent the local temple in order to have darshan of Krsna, ISKCON as an organization (after 1977) kinda makes my skin crawl. So much political intrigue, so much un-loving (and downright ugly) behavior. My impression is of a past-its-prime organization in chaotic free-fall. In trying to apply the defibrillators, with so much backbiting and sectarian politics and coverups of various sorts, rather than helping to restore ISKCON’s luster the legacy is further sullied. There is no question that Srila Prabhupada was a spotless devotee, but without his personal, actual, physical guidance, there are lots of headless chickens running around. My aspiration since I was 15 was to be a monk for Krsna. However, I would not feel safe in ISKCON. This has been one of the great disappointments of my life.
So look into Sri Chaitanya Sanga. I became a monk in this mission this past November. I was a monk for 5 years in Iskcon from 1978 – 1983. I left the Iskcon mission and I had no intention of ever going back. But, being a devotee, Krsna picked me up and placed me in this mission where I can exercise my free will to serve Sri Guru and Gauranga. Don’t get caught up thinking you can never fulfill your dream – there are other Gaudiya missions…..
I’m just wondering if Hari Sauri is seeing the Sudarshan chakra flying against him or not yet!