Keeping faith with srila prabhupada


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B: This resolution is intended to apply categorically to all ISKCON members. ISKCON leaders' first responsibility is to give considerate direction, guidance, and counseling to any ISKCON devotees personally affected by this resolution so as to bring them back to the path set by Srila Prabhupada.

2. In any case, those who continue to act in violation of this resolution are subject to sanctions by temple presidents and GBC zonal secretaries, who may exercise their discretion to prohibit any such devotees from living on ISKCON properties or participating in ISKCON functions.

Given the glaring differences between Narayana Maharaja's preaching and Srila Prabhupada's teachings, how can anyone wonder why ISKCON has been led to adopt such resolutions? Yet one senior Prabhupada disciple, who has recently publicly sworn her allegiance to Narayana Maharaja, declares with startling naivete:

In spite of the way that Srila Narayana Maharaja is presenting himself to ISKCON [as Prabhupada's siksa disciple and as ISKCON's well-wisher], there is apparent fear of him that exists within the GBC. I have struggled to reconcile this dichotomy that exists with his sweet and respectful sadhu behavior and ISKCON's treatment of him.

She explains that her decision to follow Narayana Maharaja is "based on my realization that Srila Prabhupada's teachings must take precedence over any later-day decisions taken by the GBC."

One wonders how she fails to see that the actual dichotomy lies between Narayana Maharaja and Srila Prabhupada. Not only are the GBC decisions completely consistent with Srila Prabhupada' s teachings, they are in fact demanded by them.

This writer goes on to state, echoing a complaint by Narayana Maharaja, that "There is no record in Shastra, in Srimad Bhagavatam or Chaitanya Charitamrta where one Vaishnava or group of Vaisnavas have forbidden anyone from hearing from another bona fide Vaisnava. This policy stands against Guru, Sadhu and Shastra."

Only one completely ignorant or forgetful of the long history of Srila Prabhupada's actions in relation to some of his Godbrothers could make such a claim. It is understandable that Narayana Maharaja may be unfamiliar with Srila Prabhupada's instructions, but how could a senior Prabhupada disciple have become so ignorant? Or does she no longer consider Srila Prabhupada and his teachings to be "Guru and Shastra"?

Those who know Srila Prabhupada and remain faithful to him cannot forget the many occasions in India when Srila Prabhupada had to protect his disciples from adverse actions by some of his Godbrothers. These acts included:

(1) minimizing the position of Srila Prabhupada and belittling his achievement, (2) minimizing the importance of preaching in favor of bhajan, or promoting other practices tending toward sahajiyaism, (3) interfering in ISKCON's management, (4) introducing ideas Prabhupada considered incorrect, and (5) improperly reinitiating disciples.

When Srila Prabhupada first sent his disciples to preach in India, before many ISKCON temples had been established, he sometimes allowed them to stay temporarily in Gaudiya Matha institutions. Later on, however, the problems noted above became such a constant source of difficulty, that Srila Prabhupada finally felt compelled to issue a blanket restriction against his disciples' associating with members of the Gaudiya Matha. This letter to Rupanuga Maharaja of April 28, 1974, illustrates Srila Prabhupada's level of concern:

So it is better not to mix with my Godbrothers very intimately because instead of inspiring our students and disciples they may sometimes pollute them. This attempt was made previously by them, especially [names of Godbrothers deleted] but somehow or other I saved the situation. This is going on. We shall be very careful about them and not mix with them. This is my instruction to you all. They cannot help us in our movement, but they are very competent to harm our natural progress. So we must be very careful about them.

On November 9, 1975, Srila Prabhupada wrote in a similar vein to Visvakarma Dasa:

Please accept my blessings. I am in due receipt of your letter dated September 3, 1975 with the enclosed statement about [name deleted]. So I have now issued orders that all my disciples should avoid all of my godbrothers. They should not have any dealings with them nor even correspondence, nor should they give them any of my books or should they purchase any of their books, neither should you visit any of their temples. Please avoid them.

These letters show how far Srila Prabhupada was prepared to go to protect his movement from contamination by outsiders, even those as close to him as his own Godbrothers. The general policy of Srila Prabhupada was to limit the association of his disciples with outsiders, and the GBC's recent concern about the influence of Narayana Maharaja on members of ISKCON is certainly in keeping with Prabhupada's attitude and, indeed, his well-documented policy.

Remarkably, the very same problems that arose during Srila Prabhupada's time in regards to his Godbrothers have all reappeared with respect to Narayana Maharaja: (1) minimizing the position of Srila Prabhupada, (2) minimizing the importance of preaching in favor of bhajan, (3) interfering in ISKCON's management, (4) introducing incorrect ideas, (5) improperly reinitiating disciples.

Although Narayana Maharaja glorifies Srila Prabhupada, it is the type of glorification which manages to include explicit criticisms, such as objecting to the names Prabhupada gave Deities (Rukmini-Dvarakadish, Radha-Parthasarathi) and to Prabhupada's initiating women into the Brahma gayatri mantra. In addition, an implicit minimization of Prabhupada is contained in Narayana Maharaja's theme that Prabhupada's teaching was rudimentary and requires completion.

Narayana Maharaja has also reinitiated disciples of ISKCON gurus in good standing. He is attacking ISKCON and its leaders, reinitiating ISKCON devotees, and confusing ISKCON's congregations with teachings at variance with those of Prabhupada--all this, in spite of the assurances given by two of Narayana Maharaja's followers, both re-initiated former members of ISKCON (one of them a disciple of a guru in good standing), who write:

We would like to allay your fears of any systematic efforts on our part to canvass. Maharaja has repeatedly publicly stated that he is not interested in giving diksha, "re-initiating" anyone, collecting crores, or in any way invalidate the spiritual position of the devotees, for he is well aware that this will cause confusion. That is surely not his position, for he only wants to encourage the devotees in their love of Srila Prabhupada, Iskcon and Sri Gauranga. His mission is to give respects to Srila Prabhupada and to offer his friendship.

This is indeed a strange letter to receive from one who, though a disciple of a respected ISKCON guru, had only a week earlier been reinitiated by Narayana Maharaja. Nor is his case unique: Other ISKCON devotees with gurus in good standing have been reinitiated, often by the transparent devices of receiving new spiritual "pet names" and by receiving second initiation These acts transgress Vaisnava etiquette, as well as the long-established accord among the various Gaudiya Mathas. In 1984, Narayana Maharaja said that in his institution if a member takes diksa or siksa from another Matha, he is asked to leave. Ten years ago, when another Gaudiya Matha leader had begun reinitiating ISKCON members and drawing them from ISKCON, Narayana Maharaja stated with great emphasis, "No Vaisnava will do like that. This is avaisnava." Now, however, he seems to be committing the same acts that he once unhesitatingly condemned.

In addition, Narayana Maharaja does not demand the same rigorous standards for initiation that Srila Prabhupada established. Another Prabhupada disciple who has become a new admirer of Narayana Maharaja attempts to justify Narayana Maharaja' s liberality in giving initiation in these words:

I hear the cry that says, "but he is initiating devotees without the mandatory year-long waiting period". Who says that it's "mandatory"? I saw Srila Prabhupada initiate a woman who no one even recommended to him, who came one day, got initiated the next, and no one ever saw her again.

The writer seems to have lost her memory of Srila Prabhupada, who in the beginning did many expedient things to establish the Krishna Consciousness movement, but who later personally insisted upon certain basic qualifications that every candidate must meet, not the least of which was the completion of a six-month probationary period and a recommendation by a Temple President. During that probationary period, the devotee was supposed to demonstrate the ability to follow Srila Prabhupada's minimum standard: strictly following four regulative principles and chanting sixteen rounds a day. Narayana Maharaja, however, has a considerably lower standard for giving first initiation.

Because of his faith in his spiritual master's order, Srila Prabhupada--and no one else--undertook all risks to bring Krsna consciousness to the world. By Krsna's grace, his effort was crowned with unprecedented success. Therefore, we who follow him accept him as the acarya for the world-wide preaching of Krsna consciousness. We believe that Krsna gave him in particular the intelligence to determine the standard practices for the global Hare Krsna movement. In light of all these things, we have pledged ourselves to keep faith with Srila Prabhupada.

Among those standards established by Prabhupada were the strict following of four regulative principles and the chanting of sixteen rounds a day. Also among those standards was his insistence that rigorous measures be taken to keep the confidential topics of Radha-Krsna-lila from becoming the common discourse of conditioned souls. Also among these standards was the obligation of every devotee to become "fired up" with enthusiasm to spread Lord Caitanya's mission, for that enthusiasm to spread Krsna consciousness will transport the devotee to the most confidential service of Krsna.

Narayana Maharaja, however, has a different realization of the way to preach Krsna consciousness. He wishes to modify Srila Prabhupada's decisions in this matter. We cannot accept that he is qualified to do so. Those in ISKCON who have been taught by Srila Prabhupada, and who now have much experience of preaching outside of India, have strong misgivings about Narayana Maharaja's endeavors. We have premonitions of disaster when we see someone liberally initiate many unqualified people and then immerse those same people in a culture in which rasika topics are a central focus.

Although Narayana Maharaja finds fault with ISKCON and believes he is presenting something superior, yet he--like some other sannyasis of the Gaudiya Matha--seems to find himself continually dependent on ISKCON's preaching. As one of them candidly acknowledged recently, "We are all simply eating Swami Maharaja's [Prabhupada's] prasad."

Narayana Maharaja has his own realizations, at variance with those of Srila Prabhupada, concerning the way to present Krsna consciousness. If he wishes to preach outside of India and test his realizations in practice, we wish him well and do not stand in his way. After all, there are five billion people around the world to preach to, only a tiny fraction of whom are in ISKCON. He should not, however, interfere with ISKCON, but let ISKCON minister to its own members in the manner taught by Srila Prabhupada, and let Narayana Maharaja bestow his mercy on all he can of the remaining five billion. Then we shall see who turns out successful.

We therefore ask Narayana Maharaja and his followers not to disturb ISKCON's efforts to preach according to the dictates of Srila Prabhupada and not to lead ISKCON's adherents away from those dictates. And we ask all those who are part of ISKCON to understand clearly that Narayana Maharaja's policies and practices differ in significant ways from those of Srila Prabhupada, as we have shown. To recapitulate: Srila Prabhupada insisted that concentration on topics of conjugal lila is a matter only for those completely free from sex desire. These topics should never become the currency of public discourse. Prabhupada silenced any discussion of his own internal relation with Krsna, and he condemned as improper inquiry by his disciples concerning the matter. He emphasized that the qualification for advancing to the highest stages of Krsna consciousness could be attained by careful hearing and chanting and by increasing one's ardent endeavors to bring fallen souls back to Krsna. These practices in themselves will lead the devotee to the perfectional platform, and he never told us to eventually find a rasika guru and engage in various practices under his guidance. Any faithful follower of Srila Prabhupada will carefully observe his directions and not compromise his teachings with other things.

All those who come in the line of Srila Prabhupada should keep faith in him and worship his order by following it strictly. Those who do so are assured by Prabhupada of attaining the fullest blessing possible from Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada, from Srila Rupa Gosvami Prabhupada, from Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and from Sri Sri Radha-Krsna.

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