Chakra Discussions

Conflict -- Seek It, Avoid It Or Reconcile It? (pt. 2)

by Niscala dasi

Posted January 31, 2006

In his article A Letter to Athum, the author Gaura Govinda prabhu suggested avoiding conflict in one's practice and understanding of Krsna consciousness. I explained how this is practically impossible but that even if it were possible, it is not the example our acaryas gave us -- which is not to avoid or to seek out conflict, but rather to reconcile it on the basis of guru, sastra and sadhu.

We now have an example of someone not trying to avoid conflict but in seeking it out. In his article In Response to Niscala, Visnurata prabhu seeks out conflict without apparently making any attempt to reconcile opposing quotations using the tools of guru, sastra and sadhu. Indeed he seems to ignore all opposing quotations, simply presenting the ones that support his foregone conclusion. This is the tactic of those who are more interested in defeat than in truth -- there is no attempt to present the other side of the story, and to reconcile both sides so as to clarify and enlighten.

Visnurata das: Srila Prabhupada established himself as the diksa guru for ISKCON, and then issued a society-wide directive on July 9th 1977 which states that he would remain the guru; how can this be a "dark" belief? It is a belief based on signed, documented evidence.

Srila Prabhupada also gave numerous directives in his books, conversations and lectures that his daughters and sons should "initiate disciples and carry on the family tree of Lord Chaitanya", but Visnurata does not present that side of the story. Srila Prabhupada also directed that examinations should be held in ISKCON for the purpose of qualifying his disciples to be gurus, a directive backed up by the sastric edict that "one who knows the science of Krsna consciousness can become a spiritual master".

I will not present all the many statements and directives he made in this respect as it will make this article too lengthy. Rather, for the purpose of reconciliation, I will focus on the very un-lengthy July 9th directive, in which Srila Prabhupada is recommending that ritvik priests do initiations for him. In this article there is no mention that ritvik initiations should continue on after Srila Prabhupada's departure, except for the word "hereafter," which can mean "hereafter for eternity" or "hereafter till circumstances change". When I say "hereaftter I will clean this house daily," it is assumed that if I pass on, there will be no more house cleaning. However, ritviks claim the word "hereafter" only in the eternal sense, which would be fine if it did not contradict Srila Prabhupada's other statements made both before and after this directive which show that he wanted his disciples to inititate their own disciples.

Visnurata das: The fact that gurus fall down is just one proof that they were not authorised. This is explained in 'The Nectar of Devotion': " The spiritual master must never be carried away by an accumulation of wealth or a large number of followers. A bona fide spiritual master will never become like that. But sometimes, if a spiritual master is not properly authorized and only on his own initiative becomes a spiritual master, he may be carried away by an accumulation of wealth and large numbers of disciples." (NOD, chapter 14)

Firstly, this statement does not prove they were not authorized, as not being authorized is not given as the only cause of falldown, as indicated by the word "sometimes" Therefore logically, one can fall down, even if authorized, due to other causes, some of which are indicated -- "accumulation of wealth and followers". Other impediments (which are the result of bhakti itself) are described by Bhaktivinode Thakur and these include being acclaimed as a very advanced vaisnava. There are so many gross and subtle causes of falldown warned about in sastra, and it misleading to claim non-authorization as the sole cause and falldown the proof. It is like saying that a drunk man may cause an accident; therefore if there was an accident, that proves he was drunk. There are so many causes for accidents, spiritual and mundane, the former being described in sastra and described variously as anarthas, weaknesses of heart, etc..

From Shyamasundara: I publicly challenge Niscala dasi to name a single ritvik devotee who spreads the belief that there can be no gurus after Srila Prabhupada.

The ritviks have not answered my public challenge that they have not reconciled what they assume to be a directive from Srila Prabhupada that he be the sole diksa guru even after his departure -- though he does not say that -- with all his other statements requesting his disciples become gurus and inititate. So consequently, I am not obliged to answer this new public challenge, which is a play of words. In the context given (within ISKCON), I thought it was clear. It seems I am dealing with people who are not interested in clarity, substance or truth, but taking one side up against another and avoiding the responsibility to reconcile.

This is called half-hen philosophy, because it is like the man who figured that the only side of the hen that was useful to him was the backside, which produced eggs. The head was a nuisance, always demanding food, so he chopped off the head. Whenever there is conflict we have to reconcile, and this is also the answer to Athum about how to achieve a situation of peace within vaisnava communities. It is not to ignore conflict, as he suggests, but to reconcile it. Ignoring philosophical conflict means that we can get radically deviated from the original purpose for which our society was created, as envisioned by our Founder-Acarya. It may mean that innocent people are misled and inadvertently commit the third offense of ignoring the guru's instructions. In time, the essence is lost in a volley of semantics, aimed with the sole purpose of defeat as opposed to truth. That is what the ritviks are doing, and my challenge to them is to stop and to reconcile Srila Prabhupada's different directions on this matter. That may mean renouncing their long-held and cherished belief, but renunciation for the sake of truth is purifying.

Part One of this essay was posted previously on Chakra.