Chakra Discussions

Read Prabhupada's Books; Seek Nurturing Guru

by Madhava das, Isle of Guernsey, UK

Posted January 31, 2006

Niscala dasi's article was very insightful and inspiring article; it challenges us to see where we really stand on a number of issues within greater ISKCON. At the same time, it is important not to generalize or stereotype a whole set of different beliefs that fall within the sub-category called ritvik.

I think Shyamasundara prabhu goes some way in bringing this point home, but what really struck me as a profound statement within Niscala prabhu's article was when she referred to "gurus who take daksine and their annual quota of glory and honor, but who do very little to actually train their disciples to see their various illusions, anarthas, weaknesses of heart, etc."

Although this may not be a true statement of Guru behavior across the board within ISKCON, I am sure we can all identify and understand what she means by this statement. For instance, we find from talking to devotees that the late Bhakti-tirtha Maharaja gave diksa to over 100 devotees in his last days. What you didn't hear was that some of these people were not even chanting japa-mala at all, much less 16 rounds, and that most had never met their guru in person (not that that is a prerequisite) or for the diksa ceremony. We found that some of the disciples didn't even understand properly what was the essence of the four regulative principles. Please note that the comments I put forth about Maharaja and his disciples are not to downplay his wonderful contribution to ISKCON history, but rather to express my concern about this precedent (in relation to my comments) of an excessively liberal initiation policy, and what results that precedent may have.)

This goes a long way toward the argument that one should have a living guru. It may also go a long way toward the issue that one may not need a living guru, but rather seek solace and shelter from Srila Prabhupada's books, where he himself said that all answers lie. Srila Prabhupada also says: "One must read all my books, including Caitanya-Caritamrta, or else one will simply eat and sleep, and eventually fall down." Yet I cannot remember the last time i heard a guru state this. Rather, I see gurus pushing a lot of their own agenda and their own books.

Thus we have a silent conformity looking to be upheld within some of these communities, a conformity to a cultist mentality. I say cultist mentality, because one who challenges the status quo is instantly looked upon as sick, deranged, self-gratifying, ego-based or any number of other slanders to make the person look bad, instead of seeing the issues for what they are. Is this also what they did to Pandu das when he questioned why a child molestor was allowed to sit (see GN, PA 6/05) in full honor next to the initiating gurus?

This brings me to Niscala dasi's other profound statement: "It might even be that for a time he (the devotee) has no association or very little, but the courage to stand alone is integral to his faith in Krsna's protection." What a sense of conviction a devotee must have to stand alone, and how painful it must be as well.

Sometimes we see a guru who, instead of instructing the disciples properly, substitutes for that instruction and finds ways to alienate them (even character assassination) by not taking the time to nurture and cultivate the disciples after diksa. As Niscala dasi states in her article, it appears the only thing required is a clean track record and blind obedience to the GBC. Is this not a type of subterfuge (like Op art), where attention is made to be maintained in one area while all types of abuse and corruption happens in another?

When one takes a step back, it is plain to see that so many hypocrisies are taking place and sometimes by the very souls that claim to love and serve Srila Prabhupada with all their soul. Srila Prabhupada was a bold man who made bold decisions and stated that the GBC must be accountable to all of ISKCON, yet we see that they continue to allow child abusers and child molestors to roam freely within the house that Srila Prabhupada tried so hard to build. My question to all that read this is: what is it going to take to not let his work go in vain?

I welcome your comments off this forum as well: at nrsimhanandini@yahoo.co.uk