Soccer Fan Mentality
Posted June 27, 2006
I read Namananda prabhu's recent article, "No Need for Siksa Other Than Srila Prabhupada's" with interest. He wrote: "...accept the obvious -- Prabhupada always was and always will be number one and everyone else comes a not very close second."
The underlying mentality expressed in the article is reminiscent of a soccer fan: "My team is best; my team will beat your team; anyone who doesn't acknowledge that my team is the greatest is defective." One could read it as a slap in the face of the entire Gaudiya Vaishnava Guru Varga, which includes Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu Himself. In my opinion, it reflects a misunderstanding of the nature of Guru and a lack of faith in Srila Prabhupada himself.
When the author writes, "Prabhupada fulfilled the prophecy; everyone else's siksa is of a lesser calibre and is less potent," does he include Srila Prabhupada's guru Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thaku, or his Guru, or his Guru before him? Our Srila Prabhupada did not come to the West to fulfill any prophecy (are we talking about the "every town and village" prophecy?), he came to the West to please his Gurudev, who directly expressed to him his desire for preaching in English.
Most Vaishnavas glorify their Gurudev at every opportunity. Whatever they do is done as an offering to Sri Guru. To talk of Srila Prabhupada having fulfilled prophecies and being the "one true saviour" smacks of Judeo-Christian messianic philosophy and a form of rasa-bhasa (inappropriate mixing of incongruous spiritual moods). When did anybody in our Guru Varga establish such alien principles? It certainly seems like Westerners trying to impose childhood religious conditioning on Gaudiya Vaishnavism.
If we truly acknowledge the potency of Srila Prabhupada's teachings and instruction, then we will acknowledge that he has passed on the essence of Mahaprabhu's conception to his siksa and diksa disciples. To deny this is to call Srila Prabhupada's mission a failure and his siksa impotent.
While not mentioned explicitly in Namananda prabhu's article, there is the unwritten (and often stated) assumption that the books are enough. While Srila Prabhupada certainly did say that all the philosophy is contained there in the books, what hubris it is on our part to assume that we, on our own, have the intelligence, purity and dedication necessary to extract the conception from the books. Due to our offenses, anarthas (stumbling blocks), and feeble intellect, we will surely miss much of what is contained in the shastra.
That is why it is so often stressed: "Guru, Sadhu, Shastra." Only by the mercy of Guru and the sadhus can we have any entrance into the shastra. Srila Prabhupada took great pains to train his disciples to be preachers. Who are we to say he failed? All have the seed of devotion that was planted in their hearts by their Guru. Each of them has a unique perspective on divinity and Srila Prabhupada. We should be eager for that nectar, not rejecting it as inferior.
Srila Prabhupad also stressed "time, place, and circumstance." The Krishna conception is not static but ever-fresh, ever-growing. Srila Prabhupada's books were written in a particular context for a particular audience. That is not to say that they are not eternally relevant, but it takes a pure-hearted Vaishnava to harmonize them with the current time, place and circumstances.
Some might speculate that the Guru-varga is like a river, and we ought to seek a source further upstream to avoid "pollution." However, this is a poor analogy. A better one is that the disciplic succession is like a telescope. Each Guru acts as a lens, enlarging and amplifying the mercy passing through the telescope. So, contrary to material intuition, the farther we are from the source, the more mercy we get! How cruel it is to say: now this succession has ended; now it is frozen in stone.
From Namananda prabhu's article: "There is only one acarya and we know this, it is time we all accepted this once and for all, and then all the fighting will stop." Absolutely, there is only one acharya -- Lord Sri Krishna. In His infinite mercy, Sri Krishna is appearing to us as Gurudev. Gurudev is one (and, simultaneously and inconceivably, distinct). If we accept Mahaprabhu's acintya bhedabheda conception, then all jiva-souls are part and parcel of the Lord. If we accept that, then what can we say about the nature of Gurudev?
Another quote: "Even in ISKCON, the present-day gurus seem to have [more] prominent siksa roles than Prabhupada and this is an offense." Of course, present day gurus will have prominent siksa roles. It is fully appropriate for their own disciples to put them in the top position in their consciousness. The Guru (I was going to say "sincere Guru", but, by definition, Guru is sincere -- if someone is insincere, he or she is not Guru) takes no personal glory but rather gives all credit to his or her Gurudev. We are commanded by shastra to consider Guru to be Krishna Himself. Guru is not just another elected or appointed official, whom we can impeach and criticize at will.
It is said: by the grace of God, one gets Guru, and by the grace of Guru, one gets God. By our sincere hankering, we will come in contact with a pure Vaishnava. That is Srila Prabhupada's stated wish for each of us. Never did Srila Prabhupada in any way try to establish a messianic cult of personality. Why, in our own speculation, should we?
From the article: "This realisation is spreading like wildfire as so many present-day gurus are clearly not coming up to the mark." Whose mark are we talking about? Who are we to judge anybody's sincerity? Are we Supersoul? What would happen if we all tried to see the sincerity of others, rather than finding fault? Is it possible that our encouragement, however meager, could assist them in carrying out the instructions of their Gurudev? It's unfortunate that so many former Gurukulis have such skepticism regarding Guru, but is it wise to use it as a benchmark for the initiating Gurus of today? Here's my assessment of the past 30 years of Krishna consciousness in the west: think D-Day.
Srila Prabhupad came to blast a hole in the false ego of the west. As a general in battle, he knew that soldiers would "fall" (quotes are used since, regardless of what happens in our lives, the devotional creeper lives on, waiting for fresh nourishment). He made sannyasis out of young boys who had only been trying to follow the path for a few short years. Was he mad? Surely, he must have realized some would fall in battle! In India, sannyas is traditionally given after family life, after vanaprastha. What could Prabhupad have been thinking? I certainly don't know what his considerations were, but it seems he was doing what was necessary to distibute as widely as possible the infinite mercy of Sri Chaitanyadev. Mercy is higher than justice. Srila Prabhupad was exhibiting the all-accommodating mood of his own Gurudev, who once proposed that, if it would help the Westerners come to listen, "hotel food" could be brought to the Math for them.
In the scope of the Harinam Sankirtan movement, all the "fall-downs" are nothing. Why can't we view the "fallen" sannyasis as casualties of war, and give them all love and honor in hopes that they can resume their advancement on the path of Bhakti?
The first wave of Krishna consciousness swept over the whole continent
of North America and then the whole world. The movement has been an
unmitigated success. The Name of "Krishna" is now a stranger to no one.
The philosophy has seeped its way into all corners of our culture and
consciousness. The prospects for preaching (isn't "distribution" a
nicer and more accurate word?) in the west are better now than they
ever have been. Wave after wave is coming. The siksa and diksa
disciples of Srila Prabhupad are carrying Mahaprabhu's banner and
showering His mercy on all sincere seekers.