Comment on "Prabhupada's siksa guru" article
By Vrndavana dasa Thakura dasa
Posted March 25, 2003

Well as devotee of ISKCON I understand Srila Prabhupada to be my siksa guru. No doubt he had one as well, and no doubt that was Srila Sridhar Swami. Did Srila Prabhupada have more siksa gurus I wouldn't know myself, but it is quite natural to have one in spiritual life.

After Srila Prabhupada's legacy with over 70 books and thousands of tapes of lectures and coversations and recorded letters etc. , I really doubt if there is need to go 'beyond' Srila Prabhupada. In fact if I'm not mistaken he himself said that, by saying that everything is in his books. For me there is no doubt about Srila Prabhupada being my saviour and his position as Jagad guru. We can have many siksa gurus in our life as I understand, but so far as I understood Srila Prabhupada is the principal one because he holds the position of jagad guru and our saviour. So whatever siksa we take other then Srila Prabhupada, following the etiquete, should not contradict the previous or principal siksa. Therefore i cannot agree that our param siksa is Srila Sridhara Maharaja, he is siksa of our param siksa, is maybe a better explanation. This doesn't mean that we have to even consider taking siksa from siksa of our param siksa, as we already have siksa from Srila Prabhupada. Who Srila Prabhupada had as siksa is his personal choice, but our param siksa is unmistakenly Srila Prabhupada.

I also don't understand why we need to take siksa somewhere outside of ISKCON when Srila Prabhupada as I already said left a writen and recorded legacy. If he is enough by himself ('everything is in my books'), I can only conclude that prabhu is pointing towards taking siksa for better understanding of Srila Prabhupada. But then again that doesnt make much sense as well. Maybe Srila Prabhupada did point out to his disciples who where young and immature in spirtual life back then (which later in fact proved to be so) to take siksa from Srila Sridhara Maharaja. But right now after 30 years of chanting, following, reading his books and preaching, preaching, preaching and preaching in wise age of 50 (and over) who can be better authority and bring you closer to Srila Prabhupada then such disciples of his.

So to take siksa 'beyond' Srila Prabhupada doesn't makes sense, as param siksa is Srila Prabhupada, then to take siksa from Srila Sridhara Maharaja in order to understand Srila Prabhupada still more doesnt have much sense (I doubt Srila Sridhara Maharaja read any of his books, but i might be wrong in this), as he has living disciples who would die and live for him and his couse. So ISKCON gurus or seniors are still better solutions to understand Srila Prabhupada through siksa then Sridhar Maharaja alone. Further more, taking siksa to understand Srila Prabhupada better, or to be closer to him, because he is not present, from another great soul who is not present as well anymore doesn't make sense at all. Unless prabhu is thinking of taking shelter of Srila Sridhara Maharaja's disciples and followers, who can tell us first who is Srila Sridhara Maharaja so then we can maybe understand Srila Prabhupada better later. Still doesn't makes much sense and ISKCON gurus and seniors are better solution.

Off course Prabhupada did state that there is a 'differences of opinion' (SB 4/28/31/PURPORT), so even though he accepted Srila Sridhara Maharaja as siksa still there was a 'differences of opinion'. In ISKCON we follow Srila Prabhupada's opinion so there we go again, the better solution is still to take siksa inside of ISKCON.

Even though prabhu made statement as follows:

'Some devotees unfortunately use other statements made by Srila Prabhupada about his godbrothers and Srila Sridhara Maharaja in particular to justify vilifying him or at least ignoring these more significant statements made by Srila Prabhupada about his own siksa guru. It was only by the grand stature of our Srila Prabhupada that he was able to find relative flaws in his siblings. It is not for us to imitate this, unless we are also of that same stature.'
I would still like to post some things Srila Prabhupada said as it is important to understand and see the other aspect of it.

In 1969 Srila Prabhupada acknowledged Srila Sridhara Maharaja as his siksa once and once he said he would take any direction of Srila Sridhara Maharaja upon his head. Then further more he confirms that in year 1974 by saying that he considers Srila Sridhara Maharaja as his siksa. Now if we move to more recent years like 1976 we can see Srila Prabhupada still adressing Srila Sridhara Maharaja in his conversation:

"Bhavananda: People are attracted by the Westerners coming to the matha. So if we’re up at that matha, any of us, and then they say, “Just see.” They say in Bengali, “Just see. They are coming. To see our guru maharaja, they are coming.”
Prabhupada: That was the policy of Madhava Maharaja and Sridhara Maharaja, that “Although Bhaktivedanta Swami is propagating throughout, he is subordinate to us, under our instruction.” So all these three...
Tamala Krishna: A real dream world they are living in.
Bhavananda: Here they have even included our temple in their domain. “The headquarters extends for over a mile with beautiful temples and paddy fields.” When we put up our wall, then they will not be able to include us. (laughter)"

Room conversation, Mayapur on January 19, 1976

And this is statement from 1974
'...Still he requested his disciples to form a strong Governing body for preaching the cult of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He never recommended anyone to be acarya of the Gaudiya Math. But Sridhara Maharaja is responsible for disobeying this order of Guru Maharaja, and he and others who are already dead unnecessarily thought that there must be one acarya... So Sridhara Maharaja and his two associate gentlemen unauthorizedly selected one acarya and later it proved a failure.'

letter to Rupanuga, Tirupati 28 of April, 1974

Reason why I quoted this is not to put bad name to Srila Sridhara Maharaja or anything like that. But it was only fair to show that it is not all one way as prabhu’s article might suggest. From this point of view it doesn’t look so much like a 'fairy tale'.

I must also notice (this being strictly my own feelings and opinion) that prabhu is doing two things (either knowingly or not knowingly). One is trying to diminish Srila Prabhupada and the faith which the ISKCON devotees have in him. We regard Srila Prabhupada as Jagad guru and predicted general of caitanya's army, and as our param-siksa, no one else is qualified to take over that position. This was always there and even Srila Prabhupada once commented on this, writing to his disciple to be conscious because they (gaudiya math) will try to destroy his faith in him and try to canvass his disciples eventualy to join them (maybe someone can quote on this i lost my source for it, but can be found in folio). This has been the issue with gaudiya math and ISKCON since the beginning. Another thing which prabhu's letter had was canvassing which I already mentioned. Only difference, i would say, is that this article contained a very mild and subtle way of doing so. But this as I said is only my opinion and I appologise if I'm wrong about it or if I'm making offense by expressing it.

Hare Krishna
Your Servant
Vrindavan Das Thakur das