Chakra Discussions

Criminals in Vaisnava Dress Deserve No Respect

by Niscala dasi

Posted June 19, 2011

Re: "CPO Credibility Requires Ouster of Bhakti Vidya Purna Swami," by Sanaka Rsi das, Chakra, June 15, 2011.

In a Chaitanya Caritamrita purport (Madhya 2.218), Srila Prabhupada warned against associating with envious materialists in Vaisnava dress, and just in case we think they are elsewhere, he stated that they are "in this Krsna consciousness movement". He advised us to not mistake them for "actual Vaisnavas" and serve them, but to realize who they are and neglect them.

Similarly, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, in Bhaktyaloka, coined the term dharma-dhvaji (one who carries only the flag or the symbol of dharma; i.e., a religious hypocrite or imposter), and advised that it was safer for the aspiring devotee to associate with an outright materialist, uninterested in the devotional service of the Lord, than with "the hypocritically devout."

Furthermore, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati gave us ample warning along the same lines, when he counselled us to avoid a duplicitous person as one would a horned animal.

So the last three great acaryas in our parampara have advised us of the need to evaluate our association and to free it from any traces of hypocrisy and duplicity, sternly warning about the danger of not doing so. Indeed sadhu-sanga means taking only the association of persons who are thoroughly honest.

In the varnashrama conversations, Srila Prabhupada noted devotees' inability to follow the "no illicit sex" principle strictly, and recommended varnashrama so that we could be completely honest about our level of advancement and thus make steady progress in self-realization. He declared: "Better an honest street sweeper than a charlatan meditator." Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu instructed that such a street sweeper could be a guru if he knows the science of Krsna.

All these instructions are there to encourage us to look behind the veil — or rather, the dandas, titles, gender, clothing and other external symbols — to evaluate the person's character and teaching, to look at him naked, so to speak, and having evaluated him thus, take his association, or avoid him thoroughly.

There are of course, different grades of materialists, just as there are different grades of hypocrisy and duplicity. When the lowest type of materialist takes on the highest position in a spiritual society, it is the utmost limits of hypocrisy, and we have such an example in the case of Bhakti Vidya Purna Swami.

There are materialists in the mode of goodness, in passion and in ignorance. This last and lowest mode is characterized by harmful, envious behavior to others. Those who are exclusively sold out to the mode of ignorance engage in sadistic behavior towards innocents such as cows, women, children and old men. The sastric example is the personification of Kali in the first canto of Srimad Bhagavatam, but even he did not pose as a sannyasi — just a ksatriya.

We have such a unique case in Bhakti Vidya Purna Swami, who went to the utmost limit of duplicity and offence in severely abusing devotee children, implicitly entrusted to his care by devotee parents. If there is any trace of integrity whatsoever in his character, he should take on the position of the most menial servant of the servants, washing the toilets of those devotees he has offended, and using every word and gesture he makes to offer his repeated and heartfelt apologies and prostrated obeisances at their feet. He should offer practical help as well, spending his money to serve their needs, as Jagai and Madhai were instructed to do in recompense for their offences. That money is badly needed for trauma counselling, and to give it would bring meaning and example to the oft-repeated phrase "servant of the servant, a thousand times removed."

In societies which may be mundane but which have some sense of ethics and of empathy, people who severely abuse children are put behind bars and prevented forever from any contact with children. They do not head up societies which describe themselves as representing the pure unadulterated form of religion and religious principles. Parading around a child abuser as an advanced devotee in the bhakti cult — a sannyasi, a public lecturer and a guru — is throwing mud and faeces upon the parampara. It is a travesty.

Sanaka Rsi prabhu has not committed any offence in pointing out the faults of this so-called senior member, for age has nothing to do with one's capacity for duplicity and offence. When our last three acaryas warned us against associating with dharma-dhvajis, they did not add "except for senior members; they can be as duplicitous as they like, and one cannot pass judgment, lest one be offensive."

Indeed, in evaluating the character of Kali, Pariksit did not even consider his age; it was irrelevant. He was a cruel hypocrite; that was enough to have him killed, and there was no offence in Pariksit wanting to do so. Even when Kali surrendered utterly to Pariksit's sense of mercy, he was only allowed to live; he was not made into a sannyasi or guru, and he was not allowed to live anywhere except where sinful activity was already present. Wise rulers, like gurus, know that cruel hypocrites need to be avoided by people interested in spiritual life. Their association is the most degrading.

Respecting authority means to respect spiritual authority as it is described in sastra: offering respect to a person according to his or her level of advancement in Vaisnava qualities. Some of those are described in Nectar of Devotion thus: "Not giving pain to any living entity…. A person who does not disturb or cause painful action in the mind of any living entity, who treats everyone just like a loving father does his children, whose heart is so pure, certainly very soon becomes favored by the Supreme Personality of Godhead." Another vaisnava quality, described in Nectar of Devotion, is "straightforwardness in ordinary dealings".

Respecting spiritual authority means to respect anyone who has these qualities of a Vaisnava. It does not mean respecting anyone who has the symbols but not the character of an advanced devotee. That person should be avoided, but we currently have one lecturing at our different temples, giving his association to hundreds. We blithely ignore the warnings of the previous acaryas, and curiously, we do so on the plea of avoiding offence!

What about the worst offence of all: ignoring the instructions of the gurus to avoid and totally neglect all duplicitous, envious persons in the dress of Vaisnavas? Therefore, such cowardly behavior has nothing to do with avoiding offence; it is simply sycophancy. A sycophant respects a person because of his position, regardless of his character.

When sycophants take up positions in child protection offices and defend child abusers who pose as leaders, then our child protection programs are nothing but a farce, and we have traded our children's well-being for shoe-licking. Then we should remove all those parts of our books that say that innocents such as children should be offered all protection, lest even our book distribution be tainted by hypocrisy.

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