Chakra Discussions

Unity in Diversity

by Abhay Caran Dasa, North American Secretary WVA-VVRS

Posted June 28, 2008

All Glories to Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur Prabhupada, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur Prabhupada and to our Beloved Srila Prabhupada, ki jai!

World first, my temple second. That statement was often heard from Srila Prabhupada.

Our Bhakti- or -mission of Divine love is concerned with every suffering soul, which does not really leave space for envy or distinction amongst us in Lord Chaitanya's/Nityananda's tree of Bhakti (love)

This morning I was thinking about some of the envisions by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur, one in particular was that there be Judges with tilak consulting the Vedas to give truth? There are many steps that have to be taken amongst us in unity before that will ever happen, 1st and foremost who would respect Vaisnavas quarreling in courts over the properties given by the Lord for preaching without our personal interests ? Or abuse of ones power, quarreling or rhetoric on the internet or in papers and literature from some who attempt to minimize others, with their tikas demonstrate that they are confused about or have little grasp of what our Gurus have given us and what they represent. It's disturbing that I see this mentality is promoted. I think about this, I try to write against and about this, that if we are to attract suffering souls and they read everywhere on the net and hear it here and there that this devotee smashes that devotee or that camp of Vaisnava's are this and that, The doctrine of universal truth and love must therefore stand opposed to all these attempts and to sectarian ideas. "A sectarian missionary preaching universal love is but a great inconsistency". Bhaktivinode Thakur in the Hindu Idols Jan. 1899.

This quote really says it all, to understand the high expectation coming towards each and every one of us. In the same spirit the Bhaktivedanta Charity Trust was founded by our beloved Srila Prabhupada to "bring unity amongst the Gaudiya Vaisnavas, especially the followers of his divine grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura

So we can clearly define the efforts made by our eternal guardians, yet some allow and what appears to be support or at least facilitating this rhetoric, these aparadhas of this nature, we see are posted.in different forums and mediums, its painful to see this towards those making the effort to keep the unity amongst Vaisnava's, and we can understand that these are of a neophyte mentality, symptoms and mentality, it should not be promoted nor tolerated!

Since there are distinct differences between the teachings of the Acaryas, we can only go as far as to apply the same philosophy which our Supreme Lord and Saviors in the present age have given us. Inconceivably, simultaneously one and different. "Unity", no doubt in our theistic world view difference is there-in the variety of divine plans of the one Supreme Lord equally as there is different rasa's. Even in His abode Goloka He manifests his different pastimes which cannot even be fully harmonized in the minds of some particular devotees, but they are fully harmonized within the sweet will of the Lord. There are other Vaikuntha planets with unlimited varieties of Aisvarya feelings and relationships. From Srila Prahlada Maharaja to Lord Shiva. We follow the Mahajanas and thus let's allow all the opportunity for everyone to reveal their particular feelings and revelations they have received from their Acaryas or particular Gurus and Group leaders and not permit conditioning to cover these truths. But we are Rupanuga Bhaktas

We do not think that someone, upon meeting a devotee of Lord Narasingha deva that he or she has to leave his service to the Pancha Tattva, but neither can we conceive of a gopi meeting Lord Visnu and ignoring his presence.

It can only be good for the world to broadcast the divine sweet invitation of Srila Rupa Goswami, through every possible means. In unity we become a new Brihat Mridunga, so that the World and all the devotees may hear the blissful sound of Mahaprabhus World Sankirtan Party.

Let us not forget that one of our duties is to remove the cloud of impersonalism from this world. If we do not join hands, but rather think only of our "own" maths, we will loose a lot of important time and space.

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada said that we should preach in Europe, America. That was his desire amongst many others. One other desire was that we all work together jointly to preach. Srila Prabhupada emphasized this unity with in his own mission, and I know many who live to resonate that mood today.

In further consideration of the possibility for all to participate there is the sacred relationship of the Guru with his disciple, it is the lifeline of all Sampradayas. That should not be intruded upon. I have seen, heard and read a lot contrary to this as of late posted on the net. It is complex, because there is the Guru as the inspired representative of Krishna, the Guru as the servant of his Guru, the godbrother of his godbrothers and then there's the personal aspect of his/her Vaisnava life. To bring all of these together symphonically is quite a challenge, if not impossible. Only a mutually magnanimous relationships filled with love and trust can afford two or more Gurus and/or their disciples cooperating in one joint effort, within a town, a city, country or globally. Generally a Guru and his disciple require a private place to allow for the development of the exclusive-servitorship-mood in the disciple, most of which is in the heart.. It is difficult enough to place one's faith in a particular Vaisnava Guru in order to get out of the material existence under the present conditions of the world without addtional external distractions inparticular those who wish to help foster this. Godbrothers,sisters alike of one Guru or another should not be expected to subsist under any sort of pressure, but of course deviations, misinterpretations have to be brought to light and corrected for all to benefit.. Let us be realistic. Love reigns supreme. And if that support and love does not exist in both directions between initiating Gurus, their Godbrothers/Godsisters and the different camps, then for all, including the disciples, the Sankirtan effortsalong with the situation for some becomes awkward, detrimental and unhappy. Lastly, there will be these obvious splits, missions and their efforts will suffer. We must provide and facilitate a platform of universal love and not become an obstacle. If we come to understand our Srila Prabhupada's mission of love, with its tenderness, kindness that he extended to all, then all our efforts can bloom, in all our hearts and minds we should not fault find in others but lift them up and become an instrument of that Love, but again yes we should not allow deviation or misrepresentation to manifest. We have to encourage efforts made to uplift oneanther, thus allowing so many to freely choose how they want to serve the Sankirtan mission, and not criticizing those who branch out to take up a particular service, taking into consideration what Mahaprabhu said when he told Kurma Brahmana to become a Guru and save his people by delivering Krishna Upadesa to them. Precisely what all of our Gurus have preached and what history has shown. What we consider today as Gaudiya math is so many temples founded by so many disciples of Srila Prabhupada Bhaktisiddhanta, actually they were started rather independently and often not approved by other more established godbrothers. Now, years later, we see that they were quite empowered to create great missions, while those who stayed with the previously, established Maths did have to live with many oppositions from within. Today we see this within ISKCON. Let us learn from the past as much as possible. Srila Sridhara Goswami Maharaja gave us three golden formulas:

  1. Everybody must be happily accommodated within the mission of his Guru.

  2. Everyone has the sacred right and duty to give to others to his fullest heart's content what he has received from his Guru.

  3. Never expect anything from anyone if he's not able to do it or if he doesn't offer to do it voluntarily.

The Identity of any Vaisnava as servant of his Guru and of the whole Sampradaya, has to be free of restrictions put on by someone he may not have faith in is a necessity for an inspired life in Krishna Consciousness We have to bring our understanding to that level, technically or practically, we have to realize this, and provide and support such an identity, because it accepts all those who participate in the noble task of saving others, be it as initiating Acaryas, or as humble servants of any Vaisnava or Vaisnava mission, and as we mature we will develop our own solutions to the world's problems and be able to properly enthuse and support others in theirs.

For example with the everyday questions of why we wear doti's, shaved heads, monk robes , chant on beads, only eat vegetables, and to deliver conditioned souls with our real message, we have to work through all of this, all of this is being challenged to those who actively preach, as many of us are doing.

The promotion of unity is one of our main concerns and goals in our preaching effort, Ignoring such points under the plea that only KRISHNA-kirtan is important and the mentality that only we are doing and only I or we have the right stuff will not gain us the respect we would like to have when we address the public with our deeper message. Besides that, our Vedic-Vaisnava-tradition holistically encompasses every aspect of material life as well, offering natural remedies for all the evils facing us and the world today, which includes smashing the illusions of the bodily concepts, impersonalism, viodism and sectarianism!

Or we can allow embarrassment again and again when confronted by non-devotees who challenge that our so-called "simple living & high thinking"-ideal is actually very shallow? No doubt, we can justify our actions in many, many ways, but lastly we are to establish the mood of beautiful Vrindavan and Mayapur through our life example, in our preaching we wish to attract all jivas back to the spiritual world. United we have a great task to perform -divided these contradictions and challenges will continue to manifest- so to connect all the visionaries in our Sampradaya with each other and thus prepare ourselves for the day when masses of people come to us for guidance in their spiritual as well as their material life the examples must be set.

Our Acaryas have brought us divine love. Their dignity can only be guarded and protected fully in a Vaisnava World with the Unity in Diversity characteristic that they promoted. We have to protect and continue this legacy.. Even one self cannot preach with full enthusiasm if every time one of our Acaryas leaves this world and we see all his efforts, his accomplishments and to all of those who serve and have surrendered their life become subject to dispute and criticism from others and as history demonstrates, if not amongst each other. We have to create such a spirit that all Vaisnavas and those inspired to participate happily take part. We have to see how Vaisnavism is going to evolve to meet the challenges of an ever-changing world. We must question our own activities, precepts and concepts. Do they promote a unified loving mood amongst Vaisnavas in general? If not, there are and in the divine plan always be those who shall strive to remove all misconceptions and transcend those difficulties and illusions at any and all costs.

Needless to say, our spiritual masters will be very happy and the world will see that Vaisnavism is the most unique contribution to guide the fallen people of this age.