Let ISKCON Be a Society of Mutual Care
Posted June 5, 2006
I think that this discussion about the tragedy of Ananda Prabhu's sucide is important, for it is raising awareness of the need to care for devotees, and to create a culture of care in the devotional community, in ISKCON. It is so unfortunate that it takes extremes like this to remind us of the importance to care for each devotee, whether they be activeor not in ISKCON or in sadhana.
Recently I read an article by one of Ananda Prabhu's non-devotee/miltary friends, Eric Passchier, originally posted at blog.myspace.com, and it sheds light on the the recent past and turmoil that Ananda prabhu was undergoing, especially stemming from his terribly traumatic experiences in Iraq.
A few things came to me as I read it. One signifcant point is how important it is to maintain lifelong connections with devotees, and extend human and spiritual care to them, unconditionally. When we read Bhakti-ratnakarawe hear of how Jahnava devi and Sanatana Goswami had such compassion on the residents of Vrndavan, and would frequently address their "human" needs, such as consoling parents who had lost their child or community disputes. Their care was appropriate to the feelings and concerns of their care-recipients. In fact, "care" means: "attentive assistance or treatment to those in need."
The point is that the human needs of devotees call for the care of fellow devotees. In other words, if we only are concerned with the "transcendental" or liturgical aspect of individual devotees lives -- chanting their rounds, coming to the temple programs, doing service at the temple, reading one hour a day, understanding the philosophy, etc. (all important concerns) -- but neglect their human needs, it is not complete care, and as we see in this tragic case of Ananda's suicide, it is rather careless.
May we all take time to be more caring of ourselves and of those
devotees whom Krsna has arranged for us to connect with in this
lifetime. All we have is each other.