Chakra Discussions

Myth Creation Begun

by Nrsimhananda das

Posted February 23, 2010

Canonization (or canonisation) is the act by which a particular Christian church or group declares a deceased person to be a saint and is included in the canon, or list, of recognized saints. Originally, individuals were recognized as saints without any formal process.

Recent remarks in Mayapur by HH Bhakti Caru Swami at HH Tamal Krishna Goswami's memorial service seem to be the beginning of Iskcon's deification of some of Srila Prabhupada's disciples. BCS's speculation that Tamal Krishna Maharaj was an eternal associate sent by Krishna to help Srila Prabhupada expand his mission in a very powerful way is merely that: a speculation, an act of guesswork.

I don't pretend to know who is or who isn't a mahabhagavata in disguise as a lowly Western hippie destined to eventually be revealed as pure devotee performing his or her lila. Such evaluations are not possible by this or any other conditioned soul. Even if they were, such pronouncements cannot be verified by anyone other than a pure devotee. I'm sure that BCS's sentiments of love and affection for TKG are genuine, as must be those of his friends and disciples, but broadcasting such an opinion to the society of devotees by an Iskcon leader should certainly be attenuated by a humble attitude of: "I can't say for sure; I'm just offering a prayer of gratitude."

The second speculation that BCS offered at the same event was an opinion that TKG chose his time of death. He cites the doctor's opinion that he left his body before the car crashed as well as some remarks that TKG had made the prior day.

Frankly, I don't know where to go with this invention. I ask myself, why? Why do people want to revise history through interpretation? BCS is entitled to his own speculations, but, as an Iskcon leader, guru, etc., he should understand that these fantastic remarks are taken seriously by thousands of adoring fans. What lived in the past as a fact, now becomes a "story." We are witnessing myth creation in the making.

Such fictionalization also leaves able room for those other gurus who helped SP to attain similar status as eternal associates. If guru by ecclesiastical (call it what you will) convention is the GBC's invention, elevating the status of the first crop of Iskcon gurus to saintly status may not far behind. I never did understand how the Vatican could vote, post mortem, on whether a person could become beatified and ultimately canonized. Now I am seeing the incubation of that process, uncannily familiar to rising up the corporate ladder, only this one is Jacob's.

I ask Iskcon leaders to give us facts; we're adults (many of us, matured ones) who can make up our own opinions.

For emphasis, I repeat: "Originally, individuals were recognized as saints without any formal process." It's true for the Catholics and certainly true for the Vaisnavas.

Note: So far, there is no indication that the GBC is involved in any formal process of canonization, and I don't want anyone to think that I am finding them guilty of such in any way. I'm just concerned that the silent acceptance of BCS's speculation will encourage such thinking.