More Gurus Desperately Needed
Posted September 30, 2005
When touring south India, Lord Chaitanya instructed everyone He met to “Be guru and save the land.”
In every locality I visit, I see senior devotees who have been steady and fixed up for many years. Because of their vast knowledge and sincere devotion these great souls (whether married, in the body of a minority race, or female covering) they are attracting many new people who reverently approach them for teachings and the dust of their feet.
Remembering how ISKCON’s dwindling members suffered through the difficult years and how we’ve had to wait so long for our leaders to mature, why can’t our current servant-leaders offer proper respect to their Godbrothers and Godsisters by recognizing officially their ability to locally initiate new disciples?
The ambient atmosphere of (actually equal but “holier than thou”) Godbrothers created long ago by certain leaders is still going on, and hence many great souls are put “on ice.” Not only are those equal in lineage to the current gurus and leaders discouraged, but what, I ask, is the fate of the new generation of sincere and anointed preachers who are coming up on the horizon for the future of the movement? These preachers don’t want a mundane management structure, they look at the past leading to the present and yearn for a truly humble, spiritual management where all souls “under” such a system can thrive and be free of the feeling of covetousness for management positions. The example set by leaders coveting posts of guru and GBC positions in the early days has created a materialistic atmosphere of “bucking for power” that has subtly poisoned all levels of management, even at the lower rungs of the society. By forgetting the actual bliss of leading spiritually through preaching, example, and humility, our movement has become immersed in competition to see who can stick it out the longest to materially make it to the “top.” For this reason, sincere new people have been running fast and hard away from ISKCON due to bad experiences. It is not what they expected from reading Srila Prabhupada’s books.
When Srila Prabhupada was physically present, certain devotees kept everyone from seeing Prabhupada by bullying devotees at his doorstep. Similarly, the world is unable to get the full blessing of his mercy because our leaders are not practicing a humble mood by offering advanced positions to anyone who exhibits the proper qualifications that are combined with true humility. If people with blissful hearts, sober vision, true humility and qualification can be circulated into higher posts (guru, GBC, temple president, temple director, bhakta/bhaktin leader etc.), then this movement would really soar like it never has before.
Whatever the reasons are for current leaders not to bring in more localized gurus, there are many excellent reasons to allow many more gurus to be added to the ISKCON “roster.” The reasons I could think of are listed below, but I’m sure there are many more:
1) If local gurus were introduced, it would increase the number of new devotees to the movement.
2) In cases where there are minority (black, Hispanic etc.) gurus added, it creates more of an ability to tap into the local minority population.
3) Members cultivated more locally (and hence more directly) would also decrease the likelihood of being led into camps outside of ISKCON.
4) More immediate accessibility would be better for the student’s spiritual life. As it stands now, many temples are being neglected by the big gurus of ISKCON, who only make rare and short appearances.
5) Though a student can choose a more inaccessible guru if he/she wanted to, the search time and waiting time for initiation (in many of cases) would be greatly shortened.
6) The local guru, well-established at the local level, could inspire his/her students to expand the Krishna consciousness movement more effectively in that area. This is undoubtedly a purely spiritual management technique that will prove greatly beneficial.
7) Gurus with successful marriages, who have endured the difficult trials to find this success in their ashram, can more readily and intimately advise their married students who hit bumps in the road, and thereby save marriages
8) Also localized gurus are a lot more in tune with each person’s background and personality. This relationship will ensure that the aspiring devotee is scrutinized more effectively before taking initiation. This adds up to a better rate of success in long road to the final chapter (death) of the disciples spiritual life.
9) When localized gurus become more prominent in every town and village, our movement will be more closely following the ways of our Vaisnava traditions, what to speak of applying Lord Chaitanya’s mercy-based instruction that humble gurus fan out everywhere to save the land.
10) By making adjustments to bring in as many localized gurus that are qualified and available, our leaders will inspire the members of ISKCON with their own humilty through the charitable empowerment of others. Thus.
11) Our movement remains somewhat stagnant (in growth). By being immediately active to increase the already qualified members in this most effective way, it will ensure proper use time and resources (for growth), at a time when the whole world may be heading towards a complete collapse of infrastructure within the next decade.
12) If/when the world does break down into complete chaos, and we are stuck with international men of infrequent appearance for gurus, then the local people will be forced to become gurus in order to lead the laterally broken disciplic succession. I say we should start the process of establishing as many gurus as possible, as soon as possible. By assuring a good footing with local gurus in the world, we can establish a more trusted system of passing on the disciplic succession in the coming times of disaster.
13) Appointing female gurus will bring in an immense ability for the movement to gain the respect of half the population, namely those in female bodies. Whether one attempts to imitate the externals of some ancient culture or not (where the shoe doesn’t fit), it is still our philosophy that souls in the bodies of women are (ultimately) as able to transcend all designations of gender, varna and ashram, as fully as men, and teach the science of Krishna equally as well as souls who were previously forced into men’s bodies. Any person who even distinguishes a pure Vaisnavi/mahatma or others (in a so-called “lower” race, caste or creed) according the bodily conception of life, are equally implicated in identifying with their own gender, race, caste, creed, varna and ashram. These designations are directly tied into the ego-identity and downgrades the truth and importance of the very life’s teaching of srila Prabhupada: pure devotional service, the very goal of our ISKCON sanga.
Finding these qualifed men and women is easy. I have already written an article called “Supersoul Elections: Elect our GBCs, by the Supersoul Process,” which gives an innovative idea on how to uncover the most qualified leaders among us.
Repeatedly I have met so many devotees who agree with this basic synopsis. Not only do these ISKCON members in good standing agree, but many of our best members are displeased in the way the leaders are handling or avoiding many issues that challenges the equality and ability of Godbrothers and Godsisters to occupy the two posts of guru and GBC.
Though there are many issues, I bring up this one issue alone, because it is the clearest, most encouraging, and easiest item that our leaders can change on behalf of the disgruntled members of this movement.
It is said that “to make a difference, sometimes you have to be different.” Some kind of major change (within reason) is overdue, to inspire and expand the movement. This could be that change.
Please if this article is attractive, and you (the reader) are friends with a GBC or have some pull against our hard to change leaders, then please share this article around. Until many qualified men and women are taken “off the ice,” and really encouraged to increase their service (by being formally empowered), all the future hidden gems in this movement will not shine forth to save the world. How strange it is that these “Rahu” like politics are continually eclipsing the potential of our movement.
Watching great souls sit on ice, waiting their turn, which may never come (unless they leave ISKCON), I sit and weep for Srila Prabhupada’s movement, our only hope.
Please pass this on to someone of importance, as I am not!
Garuda dasa (jr)