I said previously in the introduction to "Cooperation" that Srila Narayana Maharj was not always persona non grata in ISKCON. At this time, l994, Girirj Swami and Tamal Krsna Goswami had not yet buckled under gbc pressures to disassociate with him, and gave some rather rational explanations in defense of taking his darshan and siksa. Read for yourself and you decide. I can only wonder how much heavy handed behavior came down on their heads to force them, some time later, to adjust their position and go against their hearts. Your Servant, Puru Das Adhikari
Giriraja Swami (GS): This whole document has come from those opposed to us. The ideas they are attributing to us are not our ideas at all.
Lokanath Swami (LS): You could say there's a misunderstanding of...we are misunderstood and...
GS: People may say we say certain things that we don't.
LS: Actually that is the purpose of this get-together.
Bhurijana Prabhu (BP): I have one question. What are the thoughts of the GBC body?
Pancaratna Prabhu (PP): Unfortunately the only GBC members I've had access to during our work were Gopal Krsna Maharaja and Mukunda Maharaja and whatever we picked up over Com, from Hrdayananda and Bhakti Charu Maharaja. The other persons were not GBC members.
BP: My personal position is not at all represented here. I have a doubt that the opposing position is properly represented either.
PP: That's why we've invited other senior devotees here who might have some idea of the opposing positions.
Tamal Krsna Goswami (TKG): That's fair enough.
PP: With your permission, as we are short of time, we'd like to start.
Bhakti Vidya Purna Maharaja (BVPM): I'm just wondering if it wouldn't be appropriate to get some history. My understanding was that there was a certain settlement on this issue made at the last GBC meetings. If that's the case, what is now the problem? What has transpired to bring this discussion about?
GS: I think the first thing to do is to read the undertaking and to explain what it actually means.
TKG: I'll read to you from a letter I put on Com today. "It is my clear understanding - and I believe it is the understanding of the others who signed the undertaking of the GBC - that we had the GBC's approval to continue regarding HH Narayana Maharaja as our siksa-guru. From what certain GBC members have written both on Com and through personal correspondence, it is clear that it is they who do not know what the undertaking was. For example, HH Suhotra Swami communicated to a temple president (who happens to be my disciple) in his zone the outcome of what he termed a "gentlemen's agreement." He wrote: "The GBC men who have been visiting Narayana Maharaja for instruction on raganuga-bhakti will stop that and will limit their connection with him to only social, formal invitations."
The actual undertaking was:PP: To give just a bit more history. As the proceedings of the GBC were private and were not made public, the general body of devotees still experience confusion, misunderstanding, perhaps doubts, apprehensions and so on. And then recently at the Visvarupa Mahotsava ceremony, which was conducted at Mathura, various speeches were made, and those were transcribed and circulated.
1. We will not regularly visit HH Narayana Maharaja for instruction or siksa, nor engage in any systematic study under him. 2. Will not publicly display any affection for Narayana Maharaja over and above normal Vaisnava etiquette. Private interaction be conducted in order to maintain normal friendly relationships. 4. We will not display or disseminate any tapes or transcripts of HH Narayana Maharaja."
There were two more undertakings but they're not as relevant. I can read them if you want, but they don't figure in the following review.
"Please note that there is no mention of raganuga-bhakti anywhere in the undertaking. Please also note and carefully read where it says, 'We will not regularly visit HH Narayana Maharaja for instructions.' It does not say that we will stop all siksa and study of the scripture with him. Rather it will no longer be done regularly or in a systematic fashion. Since we still regard him as a siksa-guru, how can our visits to him be any other than taking siksa from him? We agreed to not publicly display any affection for him. That implies we may privately have such affection for him.
"Also please note, 'We will not display or disseminate any tapes or transcripts of his.' There is no mention that we may not make use of such tapes or transcripts for our personal edification. When I was questioned directly in a GBC plenary session as to what my relationship with Narayana Maharaja was, I clearly responded that I accepted him as my siksa-guru. Never in any of the meetings were we told that we were no longer allowed to do so. Therefore the conclusion of the meetings have clearly indicated that the GBC has given its approval for our maintaining a siksa relationship with him, and that we are not in violation of the 1982 resolution."
These are the undertakings exactly. That's what they are and how we understand them.
I think Kurma Rupa transcribed it and somehow began to circulate it. So various statements made on that occasion raised doubts amongst some GBC members and many others here and elsewhere that lead to the issues that we have to discuss.
TKG: Unfortunately, so many things are being circulated. The GBC promised to fulfill its part of the undertaking by collecting all the materials (originals and copies both) which were stolen from Sacinandana Swami and return them to him. But to this very day they are still being distributed by some of the same persons who stole them. Anyway, this is a message from myself and Giriraj Maharaja that we put on Com today. "Yesterday Badarinarayana prabhu's Com message about our talks at Visvarupa Mahotsava came into our hands through a friend. Although immediately after the event we informed His Holiness Jagadish Goswami, the GBC liaison, about the situation, as the discussion has now come on Com we shall explain here as well." The GBC liaison was the number 6 undertaking made by the GBC. Nothing was to be done except through the liaison. To avoid this whole thing coming on Com as it did last year, we arranged for a liaison.
BP: We didn't, the GBC did.
TKG: The GBC did.
BP: We were not even there.
TKG: As far as who spread this on Com, it was Suhotra Swami. Kurma Rupa has no access to GBC Com.
"When I visited Vrindavan after Janmastami I was met by many concerned devotees who told me how offended and hurt Narayana Maharaja was that we had not invited him to Balarama's Appearance Day, how hurt and confused Narayana Maharaja's followers were that we had not invited him, and how disappointed and confused many ISKCON devotees were that he did not come. Later I heard that Narayana Maharaja had come to his Vrindavan centre on Balarama's Appearance Day expecting us to meet and accompany him to the celebration. Ultimately when no one came he returned to Mathura.
"We further heard that Narayana Maharaja himself had spoken about the incident for many days thereafter. When one devotee asked him to explain his statement, 'Although the maha-bhagavata may not take offense, the dust of his lotus feet may.' Narayana Maharaja replied, 'The dust of the lotus feet indicates the followers of the maha-bhagavata.'
"His devotees were confused. From their point of view, Narayana Maharaja had always tried to help ISKCON and ISKCON's devotees, and they could not understand what wrong he had done to be neglected so, especially after his having been invited for the last twelve years or so."
Dhanurdhara Swami (DS): I can make a point that Bhavananda initially invited him. It was that long ago.
TKG: "I happened to be in Vrindavan in early August, some days before Balarama's Appearance Day. Although as part of the undertaking Narayana Maharaja was not to be invited to attend, still, as the event approached, I could see that to exclude Narayana Maharaja would be highly insulting. I urged those present to try to do something. (At the time, both Bhurijana prabhu and Kadamba Kanana prabhu were outside India.) Apparently nothing could be done.
"According to our agreement with the GBC body, we were to maintain normal friendly relations and not cause offense. Somehow when the GBC agreed to exclude Narayana Maharaja from Balarama's Appearance Day we did not foresee that such an action would indeed constitute an insult and disrupt relations.
"Visvarupa Mahotsava, the day Lord Caitanya's brother took sannyasa and the day Srila Prabhupada took sannyasa from His Holiness Kesava Maharaja at the Kesavaji Gaudiya Matha in Mathura, has been celebrated for the benefit of ISKCON devotees at the Matha for many years. As agreed in Mayapura, ISKCON devotees went. Considering how Narayana Maharaja and his followers had been slighted, we thought the first priority was to satisfy them. Although the audience consisted of both ISKCON devotees and other Gaudiya Vaisnavas, we chose to speak to His Holiness Narayana Maharaja and his followers. Since the offense had been committed by the institution, the situation had to be addressed by representatives of the institution . After our talks at Visvarupa Mahotsava many devotees seemed relieved, and the cloud seemed to have been lifted.
"While we had to say certain things to remove the offense, we were also concerned that our statements should not confuse or disturb devotees who did not realize our intentions. After the event we met with all the senior devotees who were personally present and explained the background. We assured them that we had no intention of defying the GBC or of changing our policy in relation to Narayana Maharaja and ISKCON. We spoke as we did only to mitigate the insult and we hoped never to have to do so again. As the GBC body wanted us to maintain normal friendly relations and not commit offense, we considered we were acting on behalf of the GBC body. Offenses against Vaisnavas are such that they can disturb one's spiritual life even up to the stage of bhava-bhakti, life after life. But we hoped that henceforth if we just observed proper Vaisnava etiquette we could avoid having to speak so strongly. And we apologized for any confusion or disturbance caused by our excesses.
"We wish to reassure the GBC that we will always remain loyal to Srila Prabhupada and the GBC and will always try to work in the best interest of Srila Prabhupada and ISKCON. At the same time, as GBC members, we will try to help the GBC avoid mistakes in the future. If any members want further discussion or clarification on the subject, they may contact us directly."
As a point of clarification, of all the GBC members who went on Com about this, not one of them ever asked either of us any clarification of what happened. No one asked us why we said what we said.
Krsna Ksetra (KK): It seems that again Com is the culprit.
TKG: That statement about Com is extremely important. You may find that as the day goes on we will repeat that statement.
PP: Visvarupa Mahotsava has made the issue a very hot topic. But I also have to say that since Gaura Purnima, I have been hearing from devotees that I associate with that this is still an issue and that it must be settled. In other words, there's a concern that it was not fully addressed in Gaura Purnima. Devotees are therefore attempting to try and push forward a resolution of these concerns. This document is meant to serve as an agenda for the different concerns.
The paper in your hands, compiled by the senior devotees present, represents what we have heard, what we've understood to be your position. There's definitely speculation involved, so we have to address that.
So I'm going to start. The first point has to do with the sufficiency or insufficiency of association with ISKCON devotees and the acceptance of authority outside of ISKCON. I'll just read...
1. Acceptance of spiritual authority outside of ISKCON.
GS: I already disagree with the statement, "acceptance of spiritual authority outside of ISKCON." I believe that the term outside of ISKCON is too vague to be workable. We are coming in a parampara that in one sense begins with Caitanya Mahaprabhu, goes through Rupa Gosvami, Jiva Gosvami, and others. Now, are they in ISKCON? I think in the institutional sense in which we apply the definition, meaning under the GBC body, they're not in ISKCON. But does it mean that because they're not in ISKCON, taking any instruction from them outside of Prabhupada's books is taking siksa from outside ISKCON? And that taking such siksa from outside ISKCON minimizes ISKCON's position or the value of what Prabhupada gave us? This term "outside ISKCON" has been emotionalized and politicized.
BP: And equated with disloyalty to Prabhupada.
GS: First we should decide if taking instruction from Caitanya Mahaprabhu and the previous acaryas from any source outside Prabhupada's books constitutes taking instruction from outside ISKCON and is therefore a violation of ISKCON law.
PP: As a procedure, I'm not going to respond to different points or ask for responses. Our purpose is not to debate, but just to record these statements and the discussion.
GS: I'm just saying logically, as I see it, the basis of the disturbance is in the idea that taking instruction from outside of ISKCON is disloyal. But the definition of "outside of ISKCON" is not workable.
PP: I would like to clarify what I have heard to be the definition of going outside of ISKCON. Their definition of outside of ISKCON means outside of Srila Prabhupada's personal disciplic line, in other words, going backwards and forwards, his gurus and disciples.
GS: I feel that those are false distinctions.
PP: Then you can speak on that also.
GS: Our line is not based exclusively on diksa. In fact, our line specifically is based on siksa. So if someone who is not directly an initiated disciple of Srila Prabhupada has accepted the same conclusions of the parampara, he's not outside of our line or outside or Srila Prabhupada's line.
PP: The other point as far as what is seen as ISKCON is those who accept Srila Prabhupada as the acarya. In other words, ISKCON means those devotees who accept Srila Prabhupada as the acarya.
LS: This corresponds to another part of the draft - prejudice - that anything outside ISKCON is bad. This is what Giriraj Maharaja has mentioned.
DS: There seem to be so many issues I really don't think we should try to cover them all. Can we use this draft as a guide to get to the root of the discussion?
GS: If the most basic premises in the controversy are addressed first - like the false duality about inside ISKCON and outside ISKCON - then all the detailed discussion becomes unnecessary.
BP: Perhaps a few basic principles should be discussed I see some over and over again. Like, "Prabhupada said, 'Don't associate with the Gaudiya Math' and you people are doing it." Just talking about that one point would probably remove fifty percent of the other points.
From the way "Prabhupada said, Don't associate with the Gaudiya Matha" is reiterated again and again it seems that no one has read the paper Giriraj Maharaja put out last year, "Srila Prabhupada's Final Instruction: Cooperate." If these are their objections, they haven't even taken Giriraj Maharaja's paper into consideration or answered his arguments. They might not agree, but they should at least answer his arguments. If people aren't going to listen to our responses, I don't feel like talking. Just a broken record, "Prabhupada said." But Prabhupada also said you can associate with the Gaudiya Math. So if at every point they simply bring up that point without responding to all else Prabhupada said, what's the point of talking?
GS: All these hysterical concerns rest on the basic idea that there's a fault in going outside ISKCON for spiritual instruction. It just doesn't consider the fact that Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Rupa Gosvami, Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura, are not in ISKCON.
BP: And Prabhupada before 1966.
PP: Others would disagree, that they are in ISKCON.
GS: Great. If they are in ISKCON, then someone representing them, repeating their instructions with reference to their books, is also in ISKCON, as much as Rupa Gosvami is. This distinction is false.
BVPM: I don't think this meeting has to decide anything. This meeting should just serve to clarify what these Vaisnavas who visit Narayana Maharaja actually feel. What's written on this paper is just a springboard because, as far as I can see, their position is misunderstood.
Radhanath Swami (RS): But that is what people think! So just by going over each of their objections to the positions people think are theirs, we'll get a clear understanding, "Is this what they really feel?" Let's go over each point and try to understand. We've just gotten an understanding of what they feel about acceptance of spiritual authority outside of ISKCON. I've learned a lot about what they believe just by hearing. There's no need to decide anything or debate, let's just hear from them.
TKG: There are 22 points in this paper we're discussing, which many people believe is our position and here's our response. That's about all you will get from this draft.
PP: That's exactly what we want.
GS: Just glancing through the draft the other day I got inspired to write something. We made a basic point, that Caitanya Mahaprabhu and the previous acaryas aren't in ISKCON in the sense that they're not under the GBC, but they are our siksa-gurus. And if someone can help us to understand what they taught, he can also be accepted as a siksa-guru. And as valid as Rupa Gosvami's teachings are, the teachings of someone who explains Rupa Goswami's would be similarly valid. We could just discuss basic points like that.
GS: Another point is whether Narayana Maharaja is a bona fide representative of our parampara and therefore whether taking siksa from him is acceptable - and who will decide.
PP: Then a third one is the effect upon the institution of accepting siksa from devotees who are not part of the institution.
TKG: I disagree, because if the principle is understood properly, then proper preaching will insure there is no adverse effect. What you say implies that there is something wrong in taking siksa outside ISKCON. But if we redefine outside, then it may not be an issue anymore and it won't create a disturbance. It's creating a disturbance because people preach that it's improper.
DS: There is an institutional concern. Previously people have made the point that someone outside ISKCON is not legally under the GBC body even if he does represent the parampara.
PP: There are many other practical concerns, like initiations....
GS: I don't think those practical details are what is shaking the movement. What is disturbing the devotees is the idea that taking instruction outside of ISKCON or accepting someone outside of ISKCON as a siksa-guru is wrong, that it is against ISKCON, that it minimizes Prabhupada....
BP: They also fear it points to a deficiency in ISKCON...
PP: You could address all the doubts people have in writing, in a paper. I am not personally so concerned that we stick to this format.
TKG: But sometimes people need to have things spelled out clearly for them. And even though the one item may actually be inclusive of four others, people may not get the message.
LS: For some, clarification of all 22 points will be necessary.
BP: I have a doubt. It seems to me that the essential disagreement that has arisen is not a philosophical problem as much as it is an emotional problem. And if we cy to discuss and resolve it philosophically, it will not have any true effect because, again, the issue is essentially emotional.
PP: But it has to be dimmed philosophically.
BP: I think that's a good challenge for this group: how can we ensure that the level of discussion...how can we push it up to the philosophical level and remove it from the emotional level.
PP: By doing the work now. Don't leave it until the GBC meetings. The GBC meetings is an emotionally charged time with all kinds of pressures. It's just the wrong time to do this kind of work.
GS: I have a request, and I think I speak for all of us. We are not going to be coerced or intimidated into doing something that we think is against Srila Prabhupada and the best interest of ISKCON and the whole parampara. Only if we're convinced that we're doing something wrong will we change.
Devotees should understand that we're not going to respond to intimidation. We're going to fight this till the end. And to convince us, they have to come to the philosophical platform. Either they should convince us or we should convince them. We're not going to respond to any other tactic.
TKG: For instance, one tactic is: "There's a resolution from 1982." If they continue to pull out that resolution without examining philosophically whether it holds water or not, it won't work. That is not the way to convince us. It's a stick. Police-state tactics. But if you're willing to evaluate clearly whether that resolution is actually philosophically sound or not, then, according to the conclusion of [the debate] I'll become convinced or you'll become convinced. But if you just say, "Resolution of 1982" without discussing whether it's valid or not, that's a stick!
Therefore, last year we put forward a proposal that no legislation should be passed against guru, sadhu, and sastra. Do you know what happened? It was shelved They said they didn't feel they could decide on this. That should give you some idea about what the real problem is.
BVPM: A little sidepoint. This meeting, is it to gather material for the GBC body to deal with in a subcommittee or some delegated body? Or is it for a particular group of devotees, or for the devotees worldwide?
Now this draft criticizes these devotees for violating a GBC resolution. But I've also seen the GBC make resolutions time after time, as with the Bhavananda issue, and when it's made, everyone in the GBC is happy. But as soon as it leaves the room and hits the world, within three days it's rejected by everyone.
So how is this issue practically going to be resolved? Sometimes senior devotees don't care for what the GBC body decides. How will this discussion address and remove the difficulties?
PP: What I understand Naveen Krsna prabhu wants us to do is discuss. He's asked Lokanath Maharaja and myself to help him to conduct a dialogue and circulate the results amongst the GBC. Afterr that, we have suggested that some sort of commission be established to come to a proposal by further discussion. All that work should be done before February, and then in February there will be a resolution.
Indradyumna Swami (IS): I think we should communicate to the society as quickly as possible that the views generally attributed to these devotees are not theirs. We should accomplish that. It's reached a crisis stage now.
I would say that the most important thing would be to produce a written response that could be circulated. That would allay a lot of fear in the society, a lot of suspicion, prejudice, etc. Then this meeting could actually carry things one step closer towards a solution and remove a lot of anxiety.
TKG: We could just go through the points attributed to us and comment on them. You could say that you collected statements from very critical and disturbed people, synthesized them and presented them to us to learn our actual position.
IS: Maharaja, I've always said that we should talk about the facts, rather than just the rumors. That brings it to a different level, a more Vaisnava level. Then there can be Vaisnava relations while discussing. If we can remove the rumors, we may be able to remove some of the emotions and then we can debate. Not in this session, but on some level of ISKCON we should discuss the real subject matter.
LS: There are long-term solutions that have to be dealt with - that is what Giriraj Maharaja is propounding - but at the same time, the emergency, the emotions, so many things said and speculated ten thousand miles away from the actual spot. So to me, both should be dealt with, the philosophical and at the same time the emergency problems.
BP: One other thing that we should do is discuss the role of Com in creating the problem. I read something that Suhotra Swami wrote recently that was so disturbing. Basically he quotes this 1982 resolution, then he quotes TKG and GS's speeches at Visvarupa Mahotsava, and then he immediately calls for a count as to how many GBC men thought these two should resign. "Come on, GBC men, should they resign?" Just right out of nowhere he's moving with this kind of speech to bring out the noose. No one thought to ask these two men why they spoke in that fashion. Immediately, "Come, raise your hands if you think they should resign." I think it was so improper and it exposed the un-Vaisnava nature of this media of Com. I think we should put together a strong statement saying it must be stopped. I think it's one of the most disastrous things going on.
And repeating gossip as well. Badarinarayana prabhu wrote a message which airs radical and inaccurate accusations about what's going on in Vrindavan. Then two weeks later we read, "Oh, I am sorry. I didn't mean the letter should go on Com." No personal apologies to those that may have been hurt by the message. No consideration that people tend to believe what they read. I don't think the apology repaired the damage.
Com seems to be a facility for certain elements of ISKCON's business, but its use in heavy and delicate dialogues seems to lead to improprieties.
GS: Many years ago devotees asked Srila Prabhupada if we should install telex in ISKCON. Srila Prabhupada replied, "No. You'll just use it for international gossip."
PP: We have to establish what we're going to do here. Com is a GBC problem and the GBC members should deal with it. It's not an issue for me. I sympathize but I don't think we can spend a lot of time talking on it. It's not our concern.
GS: I am in favor of going through the version of our critics, what they think we believe. Our position and our activities have been so misrepresented that until some of the prejudice is removed they won't be able to hear or discuss philosophy.
IS: This meeting is to air the issue. And then take the next step and the next step so then when you get to Mayapura, it can be dealt with...
PP: Yes. So with everyone's permission, I would like to ask one of your group to respond.
TKG: Okay, we'll start. Point 1, "Acceptance of a spiritual authority", Giriraj Maharaja has already responded. Now go ahead and comment on point 1.1.A:
"To understand raga-marga a qualified ragatmika devotee is needed as a guide. ISKCON devotees are still too neophyte to give this level of guidance, therefore we are forced to look for guidance from other members of Srila Prabhupada's family, i.e. his Godbrothers and God-nephews."
GS: I don't think any of us went to His Holiness Narayana Maharaja either looking for a siksa-guru or looking for guidance on the practice of raganuga-bhakti. In my own case, when I returned to India after seven years, Narayana Maharaja happened to be staying in the ISKCON Guest House in the room next to me. I only had a general impression that he's a nice sadhu. We would meet and discuss krsna-katha and we became friends. Siksa-guru was the last thing in the world that would have entered my mind. But I felt two things very strongly - that he was a very sincere well-wisher of ISKCON and Srila Prabhupada and that he was very learned in the Vaisnava literature of our sampradaya.
So again, the very idea that we have gone outside ISKCON looking for siksa on raganuga-bhakti because we didn't think we could get it within ISKCON is a complete misunderstanding of the history of our relationship with Narayana Maharaja.
PP: Would anyone else like to say something?
TKG: Just as a philosophical point: We don't say that to understand raga-marga one needs a qualified ragatmika devotee as a guide. None of us has ever said it and we don't believe it. A ragatmika devotee is not an advanced sadhaka. He is a resident of Goloka. Even an advanced sadhaka can be very helpful.
DS: And also, there are two ways in which you actually advance in Krsna consciousness. One is by practice and one is by mercy. Certainly it's generally the process to go to advanced Vaisnavas to learn, but I don't think, nor have I heard any members here say that ISKCON devotees are still too neophyte to give this level of guidance and thus we were forced to look for guidance outside of Prabhupada's family. I've never heard anybody say that. I've only heard the greatest regard expressed for the ISKCON Vaisnavas.
Radhanath Swami (RS): The question arises whether you all believe that just by serving Prabhupada you can attain the platform of raga-bhakti, or is it necessary to go to someone who can particularly teach you the procedure. Just by serving Prabhupada's mission, without going outside to a rasika bhakta who's on that platform, can't Prabhupada's mercy bring you to that platform of raganuga bhakti?
TKG: Yes. Definitely. Everyone will say yes.
RS: So there's no need to...
TKG: Just because the answer is yes doesn't necessarily mean that there is no need. Because in addition to guru's mercy, there's a process whereby one hears from an advanced devotee, sadhu-sanga. That's part of sadhana, sadhu-sanga. So even if one will get his guru's mercy by serving the mission, he should nevertheless perform sadhana. If an advanced devotee can help one better understand the philosophy and better perform sadhana, that will also help one obtain the mercy of one's guru.
BP: Association of an advanced devotee also comes by the mercy of guru.
DS: I think we can all say that the essential element for advancement in Krsna consciousness is guru, serving Srila Prabhupada's mission. And one who does that can achieve all perfection. And how Prabhupada reciprocates could be in different ways. I never think that devotees who don't have Narayana Maharaja's association are less. Actually, I see people like Harikesa Maharaja and others who are giving their blood to Prabhupada's mission. I've never heard anybody say in any way that these sincere devotees are disadvantaged. But I think that this is maybe something that Prabhupada arranged for us. If anything, I personally feel that maybe because I am less advanced Prabhupada made this arrangement for me.
BP: If you feel that Krsna is making a specific arrangement for you, then you feel pressure to take advantage of that arrangement. If one doesn't feel that Krsna is making this arrangement, then he won't feel the need to see a devotee such as Narayana Maharaja.
LS: What you are practicing, trying to get the association of Narayana Maharaja, is sadhana.
BP: Panch-anga sadhana bhakti, sadhu-sanga. Krsna bhakti jana mula hai sadhu sanga. It's the root of bhakti.
GS: The five basic elements which begin with sadhu-sanga and bhagavad-sravana. Sadhu-sanga is defined by Rupa Goswami as associating with devotees who are like-minded, more advanced than you, and affectionate. And bhagavad-sravana, the definition of hearing Srimad-Bhagavatam given by Rupa Gosvami is to hear from advanced devotees. These processes are helpful all the way from sraddha up to prema.
BP: Prema bhakti hoilo tenho punar mukhya anga - right to the top the same principle is there. From the bottom to the top sadhu-sanga is the essence of advancement.
LS: For myself, I've never felt such need in my life to go outside for association. Even Narayana Maharaja, I have a very good relationship with him, but I never felt like going. I think that is the case with many ISKCON devotees. Are we lacking something?
DS: I would make one point: one is lacking if there's a misconception that you don't need sadhana to advance in Krsna consciousness.
PP: Would you say that if one avoided intimate association with devotees like Narayana Maharaja because of institutional considerations, one would be blocking his advancement?
BP: We all feel that it would be unfortunate if such a condition was forced upon a devotee. It would be also against an instruction Prabhupada gave directly to Narayana Maharaja, against the best interest of ISKCON, and against siddhanta.
GS: To come back to the first point about looking outside ISKCON for siksa. When I returned to Bombay, I heard that Narayana Maharaja had lived with us in Bombay on another occasion and had gone every day from Juhu to downtown Bombay for more than a month, sitting all day in a court room to testify in the M. M. De case. In his old age, day after day, only to defend Prabhupada and ISKCON. And when he was again staying with us to have some treatment at Hinduja Hospital, I just did not have that conception that he's "outside ISKCON."
PP: Does anybody have any questions on this or can we go to the next point?
"ISKCON should be broad in its vision and allow its members to associate and receive instruction from any qualified, bona fide member of the Gaudiya Vaisnava sampradaya."
Perhaps this is already answered.
TKG: Well, there's a mistake here. It says that we feel it is needed to open the door for all devotees to receive instruction from any qualified, bona fide member of the Gaudiya Vaisnava sampradaya. I don't agree with that. Why? Because some of the bona fide, loyal members of the Gaudiya sampradaya are not loyal to Srila Prabhupada and ISKCON. And one of the specific things which we tested and have seen again and again is that this particular sadhu, Narayana Maharaja, is very loyal to Srila Prabhupada and ISKCON. That's probably the reason why we did not hesitate to continue visiting him whereas we might have in other cases. In other words, we saw continuous proof that this person was loyal to our guru and institution. And that helped us increase our faith.
BP: It increased our faith both in Prabhupada and in the institution.
LS: I'm just saying, quoting you, Narayana Maharaja is loyal, so he becomes part of ....
GS: No, I don't think we've reached that definition. But I think in the case of Narayana Maharaja, we, who gradually began to associate with him, who have been serving Prabhupada and ISKCON for many years, and who do have loyalty to Prabhupada and ISKCON within us, were especially attracted and enlivened when we saw the same in him. But I wouldn't say that someone is absolutely excluded from giving bona fide instruction if he doesn't have the same sense or service to Prabhupada and ISKCON that Narayana Maharaja has.
TKG: But personally I wouldn't want to hear from him very much.
GS: Yes, I wouldn't either. But I don't think we can make an absolute statement.
BP: This point, which is supposedly ours, says that "ISKCON should be broad in its vision and allow its members to associate and receive instruction from any qualified, bona fide member of the Gaudiya Vaisnava sampradaya."
TKG: I cannot agree with this. Unless he was loyal to Prabhupada and ISKCON, I would not want to hear from him.
GS: But I would raise another point. To what extent is it the business of the GBC to try to regulate such instruction? The GBC tried to regulate or certify Vaisnava literature through the ISKCON Review Board. This proved problematic because there was question as to how expert the reviewers were to detect apasiddhanta or breach of Vaisnava etiquette. For example, when Hari Sauri's first diary came out, things were published that shouldn't have appeared in terms of Prabhupada's direct instruction and in terms of Vaisnava etiquette. And the book having the official, GBC ISKCON Review Board certificate put us in an awkward position, as much as the GBC was in an awkward position when the official GBC-approved gurus fell down.
So I think it is neither realistic nor practical nor advisable for the GBC to try to take the position of assessing Gaudiya Vaisnavas and certifying that one is good for association and another not.
Srila Prabhupada has given so many instructions about association in the Nectar of Instruction and other places. If devotees have questions about the application of the principles, they can ask their gurus or any senior devotees in whom they have faith. It is really a question whether the GBC wants to start certifying Vaisnavas not under the authority of the GBC and trying to control or stop devotees from meeting them. In the case of the Review Board, even if we did not certify a book, there was no way to stop the devotees from reading it. They ended up reading whatever they wanted, approved or not.
So this is a very critical issue, whether the GBC should even try to certify people not under the GBC's authority and legislate the devotees' association.
TKG: I have a point. 1.3, last line, is false: "Srila Prabhupada gave him specific instructions to help us and we should therefore accept him as a siksa guru for ISKCON devotees."
We are made to say that Narayana Maharaja should officially be accepted as a siksa-guru for ISKCON devotees. We never said that. It's a personal choice. We never suggested that as an institution we accept him as a siksa-guru. We don't even recommend it to individuals, what to speak of the society as a whole.
PP: We quote Hrdayananda Maharaja. He says, "For reasons about which I shall not speculate, HH Narayana Maharaja did not fully surrender to Srila Prabhupada," Would you have any comments about that? And then he says, "We cannot surrender to him as we surrender to Prabhupada, if we are to maintain Srila Prabhupada's real position."
TKG: You mean that leaving his guru's institution would show his surrender to Prabhupada? Is that the implication? Leaving his guru's order would have shown his surrender to Prabhupada?
DS: I think it reflects a concern Giriraj Maharaja previously mentioned, that he's unauthorized because he's not in a diksa relationship with Srila Prabhupada.
TKG: [sarcastically] His sin is that he didn't take initiation from Prabhupada. Therefore he should recognize his sin and disqualification and at least give up the institution his Guru Maharaja established and requested him to serve within. He should then join ISKCON. That would please Prabhupada and show his real surrender to Prabhupada. He should have done that instead of maintaining the order of his guru to work for the benefit of his guru's institution and simultaneously help ISKCON, something which his guru didn't ask him to do but which he did because he was surrendered to Prabhupada. He took a double burden.
PP: I've heard that Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada was accepted by all the devotees as acarya and there's talk that he spoke that in the future a self-effulgent acarya would appear and that Srila Prabhupada is that self-effulgent acarya and that Narayana Maharaja did not recognize him as such. This is an argument against accepting Narayana Maharaja as a siksa-guru.
TKG: I think he does accept Prabhupada as a self-effulgent acarya, and that's why he devotes so much of his time to ISKCON. Although his time is totally occupied by his own institution's activities and preaching, still he tries to devote one or two hours a day for giving assistance to ISKCON. Why? He recognizes ISKCON as the actual branch of the Caitanya tree that is spreading Krsna consciousness worldwide. He also recognizes Prabhupada as the person whom Caitanya Mahaprabhu has blessed to do this, and he's hoping that by assisting and serving in some way this self-effulgent acarya, he'll get some mercy from him.
RS: Are you in the mood that you are surrendering to Narayana Maharaja? In other words, do you serve his instructions or just receive knowledge from him? Do you believe you're surrendering to him as you surrender to Prabhupada?
TKG: Not in the same way. I'm surrendered to Prabhupada in every single possible way. Narayana Maharaja is not involved in much of my practical service within ISKCON. I go to him to better understand the sastric teachings. And I accept these teachings from him. That's what my surrender entails. And I love him and appreciate him for all the help he's giving me. I find his help extremely beneficial and therefore hold him as very dear to me.
Prabhupada and Narayana Maharaja don't compete in my mind. My surrender to Prabhupada is total. It involves every single aspect of my life in every single way.
RS: Are you approaching Narayana Maharaja to surrender to him or do you feel that by approaching him he helps you in your surrender to Prabhupada?
TKG: You should get the definition of siksa-guru.
BP: In Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila.
RS: This is what they are specifically asking.
DS: What is a siksa-guru? I would say he is one who helps you to increase faith in your diksa-guru. I don't think any of us would develop a relationship with Narayana Maharaja if that wasn't the case.
TKG: It brings me closer. I find myself getting even closer to Prabhupada with his help. I don't feel so much that I'm surrendering to two different people.
BP: Then who's the person to whom you're surrendering?
TKG: It's to Prabhupada, and he's helping me.
BP: The spiritual master doesn't say surrender to me, he says surrender to Krsna. He is Krsna's representative. The diksa-guru and siksa-guru are Krsna's representatives. And naturally, as one surrenders to Krsna, one's appreciation of Prabhupada grows more because his realization of Prabhupada's gift increases as the depth of his realization increases.
TKG: That's a better answer.
BP: This question is irksome, because of the way it's put. If we love our father, can we also love our older brother? Or our uncle or mother or child. As if by serving or surrendering or having affection for our uncle or older brother, which is really how I look at Narayana Maharaja, our affection for our father is hindered. Because Narayana Maharaja's instructions increase our Krsna consciousness, his instructions naturally also increase our love for Prabhupada. It's irksome when it appears that there is inherently a disloyalty or duality or contradiction. The Caitanya-caritamrta doesn't explain siksa- and diksa-guru in a competitive way.
TKG: Thank you. This question is unfair, and it practically implies that you can only love your father and can't love your brothers or anyone else.
BP: Many detractors of the current system in ISKCON say the same thing: there's too much attention being paid to the spiritual masters; not enough given to Prabhupada. It's the same thing: affection for one's guru subtracts from affection for Prabhupada. It's the same myopic point of view.
GS: I know from years of experience in Bombay that Srila Prabhupada had many relationships with people outside of the managerial structure of ISKCON. Prabhupada did not consider their relationship with him to be dependent on their subordination to the managerial structure of ISKCON.
?: Just one point of clarification: when we speak of acaryas in our line, like in the Bhagavad-gita we have a list. We see Srila Prabhupada as the most recent acarya in the parampara disciplic succession that we call the Gaudiya Vaisnava sampradaya.
GS: But even Srila Prabhupada said that there may be other acaryas who are not listed. It's the most prominent ones who are listed. One can't say that, for example, because His Holiness Kesava Maharaja doesn't come in our list, in our edition of Bhagavad-gita, that he's not a bona fide acarya, and that Narayana Maharaja should have therefore left his service.
TKG: I wouldn't think that Prabhupada would have appreciated it. That's my assessment. Somebody else could say he should have, but we'd all be speculating. There's another thing you could say in terms of service. You could argue, why didn't Narayana Maharaja do more service to Prabhupada's mission when Prabhupada was present? The fact is that it wasn't as necessary when Prabhupada was present.
BP: Prabhupada personally asked him in the last weeks to help. Bhakti Charu Swami even confirms that in Bengali Prabhupada requested Narayana Maharaja to help his disciples.
PP: Perhaps you can just comment on the opposing position here in terms of siksa-gurus.
TKG: The essence of the point is again based on only one instruction of Prabhupada's: "Don't have anything to do with the Gaudiya Matha. They must not have read Giriraj Maharaja's paper. At least they could have considered his arguments and addressed them. Giriraj Maharaja clearly brought out that Prabhupada's instructions regarding association with the Gaudiya Math were based on time, place, and circumstance. Where there were unfavorable persons and unfavorable instances Prabhupada would say, "Don't associate." And other times, for example, in Visakapatnam, he took me and another 25 devotees and we lived with Puri Maharaja for about a week. If there was any way to tell me not to associate with Puri Maharaja, that wasn't a good way to do it. There were many other instances. He wrote me a letter to go to Bangladesh and work with his Godbrother. He brought Sridhar Maharaja over and had Sridhar Maharaja sit in the seat with him, sleep in his bed while he slept on the floor. He went over a number of times to visit Sridhar Maharaja.
BP: Did Prabhupada actually request Sridhar Maharaja to live in Mayapura at the end?
TKG: Well, I need to find out more about that, but I know he told me specifically that we should invite Puri Maharaja to come with us and preach all over the world.
?: What year was that?
TKG: It was in the early seventies. He told Narayana Maharaja the same thing.
We should see the individual member of the Gaudiya Math's relationship or position or mood towards Prabhupada, ISKCON, its leaders etc. That's how Prabhupada based his statements, and that's what we should do. And it's not an open declaration of war against everyone in the whole Gaudiya institution for the next 10,000 years - until at last they join ISKCON. Do you believe Prabhupada would have ever wanted such a thing? It's just not Prabhupada's mood. He was protecting us when there was real need of protection. Puri Maharaja was never hostile or inimical to Prabhupada; nor was Narayana Maharaja. These negative statements were made against specific persons, and sometimes Prabhupada made sweeping statements. But at other times Prabhupada spoke and acted very, very differently. Including during his final pastimes.
Trying to force us to accept the "do not associate" point as absolute is wrong. Giriraj Maharaja wrote a whole paper on this.
PP: Any other points here?
TKG: We have to deal with facts. Devotees tend to just keep saying, "I know Prabhupada's mood." Well, so do I. You can't use a stick on me and say, "O come on, everyone knows." That's not an answer. There are letters, there are incidents. It can't just be, "O come on, everyone knows that this is really what Prabhupada wanted."
GS: Again we come to the obvious fact that Srila Prabhupada said different things about his Godbrothers. He did write the letter to one disciple that he could accept Sridhar Maharaja as siksa-guru. He wrote another letter in which he said he was going to bring ten disciples from America to study the books of the Gosvamis at Bon Maharaja's institute.
TKG: And Prabhupada had Jayapataka Maharaja and Acyutananda live for one year in Madhava Maharaja's institution.
GS: So we have evidence that Prabhupada said and did different things in different situations. So the real question is one of application. And again the question arises, is it for the GBC to legislate?
PP: The position of your critics is: "One may go to any bona fide source for detailed information but ISKCON devotees should only spiritually surrender to Srila Prabhupada and his disciplic representatives."
This position is taken against what is perceived as your view:
"Just as devotees consult outside authorities on fund raising, printing, etc., one should be permitted to take instruction from spiritual authorities outside of ISKCON."
BP: How about Rupa Gosvami, Raghunatha dasa Gosvami, Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura?
PP: That's Srila Prabhupada's disciplic succession. Those are his gurus.
BP: It says disciplic representatives.
PP: Yes. That'll be before.
GS: But what about their disciplic representatives? Things equal to the same thing are equal to each other.
PP: Next point: "Principle of Association of Sadhus"
"The principle of following the order of the guru is the highest principle of all, and Srila Prabhupada's instruction was to not mix very intimately with his Godbrothers. The very institutional integrity of ISKCON is dependent on following this instruction very rigidly, maintaining Srila Prabhupada as the exclusive source of spiritual authority directly and through his disciples."
TKG: Institutional laws should follow scriptures, not contradict them. In other words, why should we pass a law which goes against scripture. Is that good for a religious organization to do?
GS: The first duty of the GBC body is to uphold the will of Srila Prabhupada, which in turn represents the will of scripture and parampara. So if we pass resolutions that don't really reflect Srila Prabhupada's instructions, it's not good.
TKG: The same problem comes again. The last line here says, "maintain Srila Prabhupada as the exclusive source of spiritual authority, directly and through his disciples." May I know what happened to scripture and sadhu? We are now throwing out the most fundamental principle that Prabhupada taught - guru, sadhu, and sastra. Now there's only guru. Or is it that Prabhupada's disciples are the only sadhus? And no mention of scripture. Is this dangerous or not?
LS: Sadhu is anywhere, sadhu means a saintly person.
TKG: [sarcastically] No, it means a saintly person in ISKCON. There's a new definition now.
TKG: "Srila Prabhupada as the exclusive source of spiritual authority and through his disciples." What about Krsna? That's what it says here.
GS: It suggests Prabhupada is God, the origin of the sampradaya.
TKG: This is obviously the way to make Prabhupada the center of the Centennial - destroy his teachings.
GS: But the Prabhupada Centennial wants to avoid personality cult.
BP: Another point about point 5. I agree there's not a complete parallel between professional help and spiritual help and that the surrender required in both are not completely parallel, but the surrender is not completely unparalleled either. Even when we get knowledge from professionals - and I've see this with devotees who go to professionals - they do surrender to some degree. They adopt their mannerisms, their way of talking, and their teachings. So that is surrender. Surrender is the Vedic principle of getting knowledge - you have to surrender.
GS: There's a verse in the Bhagavatam that an intelligent person should follow the actions of empowered personalities when their actions are consistent with their instructions. Here the acaryas comment that intelligent means that one should weigh the situation before carrying out the instructions. And they give the example of Krsna's direct instruction to Arjuna to kill Asvattama, which Arjuna, considering the situation, did not do.
So I think not only in relation to Narayana Maharaja's instructions, but also in relation to the multiplicity of Srila Prabhupada's instructions, we are required to use our intelligence. Otherwise I've come to the situation that we're in now, where someone takes one instruction of Srila Prabhupada. "Do not mix with my Godbrothers," and without considering the situation, without the exercise of intelligence, without seeing the whole range of Srila Prabhupada's instructions, like a fanatic, wants to make a campaign. So that is not intelligent, and that is not how we are supposed to accept the instructions of authorities. Intelligence is required to reconcile all of Prabhupada's different instructions in different situations and the instructions of other acaryas as well.
BVPM: On the principle of the siksa-guru, we also have to understand that there are different levels. So many times we just want to say the siksa-guru is all or nothing, but Bhaktivinoda Thakura points out that we have three levels of siksa-gurus: we're dealing with the adi-guru, the Founder-acarya, who everyone has a relationship with, and the diksa-guru and siksa-gurus who specifically are dear to us and inspire us in serving the mission of the adi-guru, the Founder-acarya. Then there are the senior Vaisnavas, the teachers. They also are siksa-gurus.
So just because someone may come to the level of teaching us in spiritual subject matter, that doesn't mean that it inhibits our relationships with our own guru. Because there are different levels of gurus.
BP: Also in the 11th Canto, so many siksa-gurus are accepted. Bees, ants, birds, prostitutes - but it doesn't mean that we surrender to them completely. But we take their instructions.
TKG: Things Prabhupada told me regarding ISKCON I do. Anything Narayana Maharaja may ever comment about ISKCON, I may think if it's valid or not based on whatever I've learned from Prabhupada.
BP: He says, "You know better than I how to manage ISKCON."
LS: Soon there will no longer be any senior Gaudiya Vaisnavas on the planet. Only a few more left, and as they also depart, then who are we left with? What I've understood from devotees who are going to Sridhar Maharaja and Narayana Maharaja is that, while these men are on the planet, a lot of deeper questions that Prabhupada didn't specifically deal with could be answered and be permanently on record within our ISKCON movement.
Then there will be no need to go outside ISKCON. We'll then be self-sufficient.
PP: I'm not sure if it's properly covered later on, but one of the points I haven't heard addressed is Prabhupada's statements that, if they speak one word different than me, there will then be chaos.
TKG: Even if it's philosophical, if Narayana Maharaja says something I see as different from Prabhupada - then it must be reconciled. Prabhupada's words are the standard. It's always been like that with Maharaja. It's amazing. He'll say something, like on this issue of the jiva, and he'll insist there's no way your Guru Maharaja and I can differ on this. We can't differ. Even in philosophy he has to show the reconciliation because he knows our faith is in Prabhupada. As Prabhupada's disciples we're bound to follow Prabhupada. And Narayana Maharaja, as a teacher, has to show us how to reconcile what our acarya and guru teach. One cannot teach something different. Otherwise faith will be broken and all will be lost. He's so much more careful than ISKCON devotees are about this.
Also, does it only mean that one word changed from the Gaudiya Math will cause havoc? Prabhupada was furious when he saw what the Sanskrit editors sometimes did to his books. He became so upset. He said their little bit of intelligence, their little bit of Sanskrit knowledge, could spoil everything. So this point about "changing one word" doesn't apply only to the Gaudiya Math, it applies to every one of us. If I start changing Prabhupada's teachings, it's going to disturb the whole group of people who listen to me. Because Narayana Maharaja is more advanced, he's more aware of the necessity of us maintaining faith in Prabhupada, so he will never say anything different. For anything that could appear different, he says, "What does your Guru Maharaja teach on this point?" Before he even opens his mouth on it - "What does your Guru Maharaja teach?" Because he cannot contradict the guru. If he does, the disciples will immediately go. In his mind, Prabhupada is our guru. It's very, very clear in his mind, and it's clear in our mind.
BP: I sit on a chair when I talk to him. Generally he sits on the bed and I sit on a chair next to him.
TKG: He's our teacher.
GS: I'd like to comment on this oft-quoted statement. I looked up the original quote in Prabhupada lilamrta: "If any Godbrother says even one word different from what I'm saying, there will be great confusion among you." I believe that our ability to be confused depends on our lack of spiritual knowledge. Even with Prabhupada we could become confused. When he explained initiation and said, "Initiation means you accept me like God," there was great confusion. To the extent that we don't really understand the teachings of Srila Prabhupada and the parampara, we can get confused, and not only if the Godbrothers say something different. What Prabhupada says in one place may also be different from what Prabhupada says in another place! It can create great confusion, and there has been great confusion in the movement many times. The best protection against confusion is clear philosophical understanding.
If we are so afraid of becoming confused we will never be able to deal with anyone who has anything to say about spiritual or even material life. We'll have to remain completely insulated because we're afraid we will become confused. If we're going to act as preachers it's our duty to be deeply knowledgeable in the scriptures and Prabhupada's teachings so we can interact with others without becoming confused.
LS: I know devotees who go to ISKCON Kumbha Mela and get confused.
GS: Yes. Lower-level devotees. We should save ourselves from becoming confused by becoming higher-level devotees and understanding the philosophy better. We should become convinced.
BP: And please put that quote that Srila Prabhupada spoke in 1967 in the perspective of 1967: Haight-Ashbury, no books, new devotees, and like-minded Westerners.
PP: Can you comment on this point in 1.7:
"Just as there may be a tendency towards fanaticism in ISKCON devotees, there is also a tendency towards sahajiya. If the principle of keeping within ISKCON for spiritual guidance is diluted then many devotees may fall victim to various kinds of apa-sampradaya"?
PP: Some people are very fanatical about keeping within ISKCON. They associate going outside to include going outside to anyone, the babajis in Radha-kunda and so on. In other words, those who are very fanatical about staying within the institution tend to lump in any sort of ....
GS: How do you know there are no sahajiyas in ISKCON? You don't remember Jayatirtha?
PP: Yes, of course.
TKG: You know what the rumor is? That Narayana Maharaja was playing on his flute and we were wearing sarees. People spread this rumor all over this place. Do you know that this was talked about by everyone and heard by everyone? Did anybody stop them from doing that? Why isn't the GBC incensed by that?
I have a comment about the next statement:
"This may include consciously choosing to meditate on a particular rasa, studying books or sections of books dealing specifically with that rasa, modifying one's attendance at the temple program, choosing services within ISKCON which facilitate the proper mood, etc. "
Who says that we are doing this? This is another misstatement. I've never heard of anyone choosing services within ISKCON which facilitate the proper mood of one's rasa.
PP: This is a speculation based on the observation of the activities of devotees within this group.
TKG: Can you tell us about that? Can you give me one example of devotees choosing services to facilitate their rasa. Can you give me one example?
PP: We've heard that Giriraj Maharaja perhaps is giving up GBC responsibilities in certain areas.
TKG: And how does it facilitate his particular rasa?
?: A mood, not the particular rasa.
PP: This is all related to the gopi-bhava club idea.
TKG: I must have a chivalrous rasa with Krsna and that's why I fight all day.
DS: As for the gopi-bhava club, I don't think we ever meet. This is the first time this month we've met.
TKG: Attendance at the program.
PP: Because they observe - this is what we were hearing - that since coming to Vrindavan Giriraj Maharaja doesn't come to the morning program, doesn't attend the class. So there's speculation...
GS: I have been sick with kidney stones and bronchitis. Still I gave my class on Nectar of Instruction every afternoon. But I cannot take the cold air in the morning.
DS: Why does this refer only to us? So many ISKCON leaders and senior devotees don't attend. It's not a question of associating with Narayana Maharaja.
PP: One of the concerns I've heard is related to ISKCON devotees who are pursuing sadhana strictly according to the standard ISKCON program, morning program, preaching activities, etc. They are feeling that their process is being called into doubt, that they're missing out on something, and that when they are ready they can pursue raga-marga.
BP: What are they afraid of? That preaching and going to the morning program is low-class and that when they become more advanced the symptom is that they won't go to the morning program anymore and....
PP: The concern I've heard is that there is a de-emphasis on the standard of just carrying on the mission. "If one simply focuses one's energy on carrying on the mission and follows the practical sadhana etc., then whatever is needed will be adjusted." There's no need for any conscious effort to pursue the raga-marga.
TKG: What is raga-marga? It's also sadhana. I think that they have to read the first paper Giriraj Maharaja wrote about raganuga-sadhana-bhakti in "Following in the Footsteps."
GS: It says in Srimad Bhagavatam that by serving the pure devotees who are free from vice, a great service is done. And by such service one develops an affinity for the messages of Vasudeva. By serving the mission, by serving the guru - Prabhupada explains in the purport - one develops the qualities of the guru and the principal quality is attraction for hearing and chanting about Krsna. If we're really serving the mission, the result should be that we develop taste for hearing and chanting.
So that's the first point. Now if one develops taste, then naturally he'll hear and chant more, which is our main duty, and one will become more and more qualified....
BP: What's the recommendation? They say it should come automatically, that you shouldn't consciously endeavor. What happens if something does come automatically? What are you supposed to do? What do you do if something comes automatically by the mercy of Prabhupada? Should the thing that has come automatically then be neglected? If one does, by the mercy of guru and Krsna, get a taste for hearing and chanting, what does one do then?
TKG: Prabhupada told me in Bombay, "Actually our only business is to sit in Mayapura and chant 24 hours per day. Actually we have nothing else to do. That is the goal of this movement." Then he said, "But unfortunately you have no taste. Therefore I have to engage you and the others in building so many temples." In 1970, August or so, Prabhupada told me that.
PP: Maybe one of you would like to address this criticism against devotees' efforts to hear and chant about the more intimate activities of the Lord and His consorts. There's a comparison made between the activities today and the gopi-bhava club of 1975. What is the difference?
BP: First of all let's see what they did, the so-called gopi-bhava club. What were their activities? Then we can compare.
TKG: They used to get together, men and women, and they would read only from exclusive sections of Prabhupada's books which are about Radha-Krsna lila.
BP: Do we get together, all men and women, and read about exclusive sections of anything? Prabhupada's books or any other books?
TKG: Bhurijana teaches Bhagavad-gita. Giriraj Maharaja teaches Nectar of Devotion, Nectar of Instruction, and some Caitanya-caritamrta, I've taught NOD, Brahma-samhita. But there's another difference. What was the main alarming factor that disturbed Prabhupada?
BP: . Were you with Prabhupada then?
TKG: Yes, for the whole discussion. What was the thing that disturbed Prabhupada most?
GS: The influence of the babajis at Radha-kunda.
TKG: It was poison coming from the babajis at Radha-kunda.
But this issue is our visiting Narayana Maharaja. Is there a similarity between Narayana Maharaja and the babajis at Radha-kunda? It would be interesting for the ISKCON devotees to make an examination of Narayana Maharaja's views about the Radha-kunda babajis. I don't think it would be possible to find anyone in ISKCON who has such a critical view of the babajis at Radha-kunda as Narayana Maharaja.
I also don't think that any of us would be able to defeat the arguments of the babajis at Radha-kunda as Narayana Maharaja does. Some of the best ISKCON devotees could get bewildered if they ever went into their midst. It's happened. Yet Narayana Maharaja has the capacity to protect our siddhanta by his powerful scholarship and his historical knowledge of our movement.
BP: Yes, that's specifically why I started going to him. So many philosophies float around Vrindavan because we are surrounded by babajis. So I started going to ask him what is the bhakti-siddhanta of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura's line.
And now it is such a great loss. I cannot do that. It's truly a great loss. And not only on babaji issues. When Maharaja leaves there's not going to be anybody left. And if you want to see apasampradaya enter, you'll see it enter then. Because few will be here to detect and defend.
And I'm not encouraged to question him anymore. A great loss.
TKG: There's another difference. Then it was 1975. Now it's 1995. The devotees who were doing this had joined about one year, two years, three years prior. Now we're not getting into the same thing, exclusively reading more intimate topics. I have very little time to read anything. Second, we're not hearing from the babajis at Radha-kunda, and third, most of us have been devotees for more than 25 years.
That raises the point of some people, "Don't you think that your interest in the subject is premature?" Now I'm going to be fifty. So at what age will it be appropriate? First of all, is it by age that you can judge when someone is ready? But even from age point of view, I might have another 10 or 15 years by nature's arrangement. So how do you determine when one is ready by age? Is it only by the age of your body or the date of your initiation? By the date of initiation, it's been 27 or 26 years. I am nearly fifty years of age. And what about Indradyumna Maharaja's disciple Vraja Lila, who left her body recently here in Vrindavan? She was only 19. Was it the right time for her to take interest in these topics? Should we have told her, "Mataji, it's only been three years since you've been initiated and you're only nineteen. Wait for your next life." Is that our philosophy?
So these arguments about immaturity and the similarity between us and the gopi-bhava club are neither accurate nor parallel. They are unfair.
BP: I'd like to hear what they mean by "Prabhupada criticized ISKCON devotees for making extraneous efforts to learn raga-marg." What do they mean by extraneous efforts?
PP: This was directly in reference to the gopi-bhava club.
TKG: I don't know if they knew what raga-marga was.
BVPM: Another major difference is that the devotees here who have taken an interest in this continue to preach. Their preaching is actually expanding because as one advances, naturally the preaching mood and compassion come.
And we see that these devotees are preaching and they're are able to inspire many devotees. They are very strong preaching forces within our movement. I don't see a decrease in their preaching since they've started. In fact, I've seen a great increase.
TKG: It's been seven years since we started visiting Narayana Maharaja and taking instruction from him. Have you seen in those seven years signs of spiritual or moral deviation or decrease in preaching? What is the proof of the dangers?
Now if you say the dangers are not for you but for those who follow you, we'll get into that later. But it wasn't for the followers of the people in the gopi-bhava club that Prabhupada stopped it. It was for they themselves!
You've asked what the differences are between us and the gopi-bhava club so we're giving them to you.
GS: You are spending more time in Vrindavan.
TKG: Prabhupada told me that my goal should be to retire and do nothing but chant the holy name in Vrindavan and Mayapura. That's an order I got from Prabhupada in 1970. This is our goal, he said, but you're not ready. So now, instead of spending one month, a month and a half between Mayapura and Vrindavan, I might spend three. After 26 years, if I've gone from one and a half to three months, is it a bad sign? You know what I do when I come here for the other extra month and a half? I train and teach my disciples. The job of a guru is to train his disciples. I deal with about a hundred disciples over that month and a half when I come here. They take my classes; they go with me on parikrama; I meet with them. I do what a guru is supposed to do.
I come and I write books also and study and teach in the VIHE. I get a chance to associate intimately with my Godbrothers. Now you mean I should only come during the time of the Mayapura-Vrindavan festival?
BP: I would also, in that regard, like to bring up the point that you are fifty-years-old and you have been in the movement for 28 years. Who should regulate how much time you need in Vrindavan? After all, you still responsibly do your duties. Should we also attempt to regulate the schedules of the other senior devotees as well? This one travels too much. This one doesn't read enough. This one only collects money.
And, it's not that the rest of the year you take it easy. You preach in China and Texas.
TKG: Some of the toughest preaching fields in the world. If I don't come here and get some juice - it's dry in China and Texas - there's only cactus growing there. They are tough fields.
BVPM: Also Srila Prabhupada established the Vrindavan and Mayapura centres for the devotees coming from the West so that they could revive or recharge their batteries. This is where the energy is, and from here we go out. He especially wanted Vrindavan to be an educational centre. The American House. He wanted devotees to come here and get educated. Then one goes out for preaching with more vigor. And we see that every time they go out the preaching expands; it's not decreasing.
GS: Maybe something can be said about that Govardhana project...
TKG: We made a statement on GBC Com. It says, "As I already explained in my Vyasa-puja offering this year, in his last days, Srila Prabhupada expressed a strong desire to be taken to Govardhana. Giriraj Swami and I purchased the Govardhana property to fulfill Srila Prabhupada's desire. Although all the funds have come from us, the property stands in the name of ISKCON. We have taken full financial and managerial responsibility for the development and maintenance of the project only as a service to Srila Prabhupada and ISKCON, in conjunction with ISKCON-Vrindavan. And we are working to complete the renovations in time to offer the project to Srila Prabhupada and his followers for Srila Prabhupada's Centennial."
PP: There's a specific question about the involvement of some matajis. There seems a sort of gopi-bhava club problem with them. It seems to be more related to the ladies.
BP: You mean they're wearing sarees?
PP: They can address people's concern that they have a sort of clickish type of thing. That they meet together.
And we should speak about Narayana Maharaja and specific comments made at Visvarupa Mahotsava which stated that Narayana Maharaja was as good as Prabhupada.
DS: The matajis working in the Gurukula or who worked in the Gurukula, at least those ladies - they don't talk to anybody about Narayana Maharaja.
GS: I understood from our talk yesterday that you only wanted to ask two things: Vinod Vani about her statements at Visvarupa Mahotsava and Jadurani and Karta about their pet names.
BP: And I thought Jadurani and Karta should also be asked whether they were capturing or converting other ladies by actively preaching and canvassing.
GS: Regarding the pet names, I'd like to explain my understanding. He gave them the pet names. They didn't ask for new names. The implication of the critics is that the new names indicate some sort of gross or subtle initiation. I think that's the real question. He gave them the names; I don't think we can question that. I think the real question is how they understand it and how they perceive it.
PP: The criticism I heard was Jadurani to Syamarani, meaning from Dwaraka-lila to Vrindavan.
?: So there are two parts to it. One is the conception that there is some sort of reinitiation, not reinitiation but additional initiation, taking place, some sort of spiritual bond.
BP: And also a question about disloyalty regarding the name Prabhupada gave them.
[Jadurani dasi, Karta dasi, and Vinod Yani dasi enter.]
Karta dasi (K): May I say something? I was the first person to whom he gave a pet name. It was due to a very simple thing. My name Karta means doer or creator. It is a masculine name. When I first came to Narayana Maharaja years ago and he asked me what my name was, I said Karta. It was interesting for him to hear this name and he laughed and said humorously, "Swami Maharaja had so many disciples that he ran out of names. I would like to call you by another name."
It wasn't anything. We weren't meeting him. We didn't have a relationship. It wasn't really based on anything. It was just because it's funny for him, who is familiar with the language, to call me, "Doer." Like, "Doer, can you come here?" Or, Creator, come and see me."
It was a light meeting, kind of natural. We were not establishing our relationship based on something that I understand about him in the spiritual realm or anything. So he said, in a rather light way, that he will call me another name.
It wasn't until about a year later that he said, "You know, I think I'll call you like this." So he said my name and then, "Will people understand?" And I said, "It will be only for us. Why should it be for anybody else? It's not relevant to anybody else." So that's what happened. It was light.
Of course, our relationship became close, so it might be taken in another way. But it's only an affectionate way of addressing. He actually said, "Gaura Priya Karta." So it's not even replacing. Also, it means a relationship. Like Krsna has many relationships with different devotees. He's Yasoda-nandana, Devaki-nandana, Nanada-nandana, according to the relationship He has with His devotees. In the same way I see it like, well, if you have a siksa-guru (and I take him as siksa-guru), I have a certain way of relating to him. It wasn't something thought up, or an imposition, or adding anything. It was just natural.
TKG: There is another point. Many among those who visit him have names which apparently have nothing to do with Vrindavan-lila. Was that the issue? Did you in this way get your "service name"?
K: Of course not.
BP: I would like to know. How many of the people who go and see him has he given names to?
K: As far as I know, only Jadurani and me.
TKG: After 6 years, all this commotion is about Narayana Maharaja giving pet names to two matajis. Unbelievable!
BP: I just want to add one little thing. At least for myself when I see Karta or Jadurani, I call them Karta or Jadurani.
PP: Do you have anything to say, Jadurani?
Jadurani: You all know I did the painting of Radha-Syamasundara. Sometimes people give nicknames to others on the basis of something done. Like Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura had one sannyasi who had some name, Gaura Narayana, or some name with Gaura, and he renamed him Badri Narayana because he visited Badrinath. It was a temporary name in relation to a particular situation.
So in relation to the painting, he gave me a name because I was serving Radha-Syamasundara or Radha-Syama. Radharani is Syamarani, the beloved of Krsna. So that service got me the nickname. Most of the times he calls me Jadurani and sometimes he calls me Syamarani.
Prabhupada also had a nickname for me, which was Sadhurani. Prabhupada told me, back in the late sixties, at 26th 2nd Avenue, that "So many of my Godbrothers nicknamed each other different names." It's quite common. So it is not unstandard. Also, Prabhupada's name, which he was given by his diksa-guru, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, was Abhay Caranaravinda, and then his Godbrothers gave him another name, Bhaktivedanta, which was further established at the time of his sannyasa initiation.
So it's not uncommon in our line, whether it's a nickname or a real name. It has nothing to do with reinitiation or disloyalty to one's diksa-guru.
Also on two occasions, one in New Jersey, when Prabhupada was convalescing from that heart attack, and on one other occasion, Prabhupada told me, "When you go back to Godhead, you'll be a servant of Radharani." I did not then have the interest to inquire further. But I understand that Prabhupada wants me to go back to Godhead in Vrindavan. And Narayana Maharaja told me that your Prabhupada wants you to go not to Dvaraka, but to Vrindavan. So it's all in connection with Srila Prabhupada.
We're talking in the Prabhupada Centennial about Prabhupada consciousness and being more in tune with Prabhupada. Perhaps not everything that we do now in service or in our zones or in relation to disciples has been written to us in a letter from Srila Prabhupada or in his books. But we may nevertheless feel that Prabhupada is inspiring us to act. When we give Bhagavatam class we often pray. "Please give me the words so I may give this class." So my heartfelt conviction is that Prabhupada instructed me to go to Narayana Maharaja. And if Narayana Maharaja did give me a nickname or try to sway me to Vrindavan, it is coming from none other than Srila Prabhupada. How is it being disloyal? I never met anybody who has given me so much love and faith and appreciation and heartfelt feeling for Srila Prabhupada as Srila Narayana Maharaja.
PP: Two other points. During the Visvarupa Mahotsava ceremony Vinod Vani mataji spoke with some feeling. And I don't know, but the impression was one of....
GS: TKG and I put a statement on GBC Com that we spoke at Visvarupa Mahotsava specifically to satisfy Narayana Maharaja and his followers because of the offense committed on Balarama's Appearance Day. Although we tried our best, people are still talking about what happened. They haven't forgotten. So we explained that we weren't defying the GBC body or desiring that people accept Narayana Maharaja as siksa-guru or as the acarya of ISKCON. We were just speaking to try and mitigate the offense on Balarama's Appearance day.
[To Vinod Vani]
BP: How about the canvassing question? There's been complaints that Karta and Jadurani canvas or have canvassed for people to go to Narayana Maharaja.
TKG: I'll give an example. Lokanath Swami has a disciple named Madhavi. So Maharaja is feeling that perhaps she was canvassed and now she's involved with Narayana Maharaja.
K: I can speak because Madhavi is a very good friend of mine. She is a particular kind of person. Lokanath Maharaja probably knows very well. When I first met her, three, four years ago, she was very attracted to go to babajis.
DS: She once told me she wanted to build a house in Radha-kunda, under some babaji. I stopped her.
K: She came to me asking questions about Deity worship because I have Govardhana silas and she wanted to know about Govardhana sila. This is the way she approached me. Then she started saying things which made me realize she was mixed up. She didn't know very much what she was doing and she had this intense attraction for babajis, for going in a different direction. So I preached to her through the years. And now she has no intentions to go to the babajis. She now wants to serve her Guru Maharaja. She is very attached to her Guru Maharaja and very concerned to serve him properly, so he is happy with her.
She's actually never had any direct connection with Srila Narayana Maharaja except when the whole temple went. And none of us took her. She knows what's going on and she has asked and she respects. But she prefers to remain aloof. So she's not been canvassed about it; she's actually been saved from a kind of contamination about babajis.
I joke with her. I say, Don't go away from this sampradaya. Her guru also speaks to her. She's actually doing very well now.
LS: I've only asked about her going out and preaching and distributing books - she doesn't want to go outside Vraja.
K: She's got that idea. But mainly because she's physically exhausted. She's forty. She told me she loves parikrama but she's finding even that difficult to do physically.
TKG: So it could be a physical problem.
K: Yes it is, mainly. She's got some kidney problem right now that she's dealing with and it's affecting her.
DS: Also she's an unprotected widow. Her husband died.
PP: So as far as this complaint or rumor that there's some canvassing, and that every lady that comes to Vrindavan is talked to and if they don't...
TKG: Yes, they are being talked to - by Nandalal, who "preaches" against us.
K: I actually have a long-standing experience because I was in L.A. when the whole Sridhar Maharaja thing was going on. I saw everything that happened and how they dealt with it. It was very unfortunate the way they dealt with it because it could have been dealt with in a better way that could have avoided some problems. So I have been purposely careful not to take anybody there personally. I'm speaking for myself. And whoever goes there goes because Srila Narayana Maharaja is a very famous and attractive person. Especially now, because there's so much controversy, people are attracted to go, even more than before.
[End of morning session]
Now Vinod Vani's name wasn't attached to our statement and we never really spoke to her about it. I guess the basic question is, "Are you defying the GBC body or do you think that Narayana Maharaja should be the acarya of ISKCON, or that ISKCON devotees should come to him?" What was basically in your mind when you spoke at Visvarupa Mahotsava?
PP: [To Giriraj Swami] People are taking your statements to indicate that you and others who are associating with Narayana Maharaja view Narayana Maharaja as being on the same level as Srila Prabhupada, as if there is no difference. They think the logical next conclusion is that he will be the next acarya or he will become the acarya of ISKCON. Thus we should all surrender to him. These perception are drawn from your statements.
GS: The question itself involves so many misconceptions. Any genuine disciple of any ISKCON guru would not speak differently about his own spiritual master. He must see some oneness between his spiritual master and Srila Prabhupada. Otherwise, on what other basis does the disciple accept him as spiritual master?
We've already discussed this point. We accept Narayana Maharaja as a siksa-guru, and if there is no oneness between Narayana Maharaja and Srila Prabhupada then what business do we have hearing from him or associating with him? Both are coming in the line of Rupa Gosvami. Without oneness between Srila Prabhupada and Rupa Gosvami and between Narayana Maharaja and Rupa Gosvami, what is the basis of our connection?
If you don't accept that one may accept another as a siksa-guru, that's something else. We should then argue sastra. If we do accept that one can accept a siksa-guru, then we are allowed to see him as one with the diksa-guru. The siksa-guru has got to be in harmony with the diksa-guru. There must be oneness.
Vinod Vani dasi (VV): You have to understand that our relationship with Maharaja is very intimate and more on a heart level. It's not institutional. So there's no way in the world that we consider him like the Founder-acarya of ISKCON or that he should be the next guru. He's not part of our organization nor does he want to be. Our relationship with him is personal.
I had no intention of speaking on Visvarupa Mahotsava. But as soon as I got to the matha he called me and said, "You are speaking today." I thought it was a joke. I said, "No, I'm not." "Yes, you are." So I was on the spot. I had to do it because I accept him as siksa-guru and he was asking me to speak. There was no way out.
So I simply prayed. Maharaja knows me. He knows that when I speak I speak from my heart and it's not prepared or detached. So I simply spoke from my heart. And if anyone had seen it properly he would have seen that I was speaking affectionately, not managerially.
I first spoke about a verse of Kavi Karnapura. I was speaking about the sense in which I see Srila Narayana Maharaja as the same as Prabhupada. Narayana Maharaja's instructions seem to me like a sequel. Srila Prabhupada has given us everything and Srila Narayana Maharaja takes those instructions and explains them and implements them and pushes us on in the same direction.
But I know that it is sensitive. I've been challenged. One of my Godsisters called me a prostitute, living in one temple initiated by one swami and serving and loving another. How am I supposed to answer this? I have siksa-gurus within ISKCON also. I have Tamal Krsna Maharaja and Giriraj Maharaja. Does this mean I am a prostitute, disloyal to Srila Prabhupada because I also take instruction from my Godbrothers? Of course not. If someone has relevant instruction for me that helps me to improve my service to Srila Prabhupada, I take that to be valuable. And if that person comes in the line of Srila Prabhupada and has great love for Srila Prabhupada, then I want that person's association. I never ever think on an organizational level in terms of the next acarya or anything.
What is the meaning of "within authorized process." Do you know their intention?
PP: I think that the concern is that there are devotees in our movement who are authorized to study various scriptures for the purpose of translations. Then these devotees would be teaching those things within our different teaching institutions....
TKG: No, no, no. Because somebody can translate doesn't mean that he's necessarily authorized to comment or teach. Translation is not the same as commenting or teaching.
PP: Translation involves studying, so that person...
TKG: As of now, no one's been authorized. Who authorizes that someone studies a book? The GBC? Do you know what this sounds like? This is what went on in the Middle Ages, the Catholic church. Are we going to be that much of a police state? And who's to decide who's qualified to study?
BP: The point here may be that if you should study all ISKCON books within ISKCON you don't have to go outside to study. But what happens if those who are teaching Prabhupada's books have questions that other devotees can't answer? That's what happened to me.
BVPM: In the Deity worship book, we went to probably nine major pandits in different sampradayas all over India to sit with them. Sometimes it took weeks or months to get the information that would answer the point. It's one thing to say, now you should do this. But to understand why you should do this - so it becomes more than just ritual - we had to go deeply into it and that's why we approached people who are actual authorities, who knew why they were doing things - not just doing for the sake of ritual.
PP: Deity worship on the level that you're describing is detailed. It is for a specific segment of devotees. Not all devotees have to learn all of these things in order to...
BVPM: Factually if you look at it, the Pancaratra is our life style: how we dress and put our tilaka, how we serve and eat. This is all Deity worship. We're all supposed to live a brahminical life style.
PP: It's important for you to say whether or not one can get all spiritual knowledge required for perfection in spiritual life simply by reading Srila Prabhupada's books.
GS: First I want to asK: Can't you get everything from chanting the maha-mantra? Then why do you read books? Were the four slokas of the Bhagavatam incomplete? Why do you need 18,000? Were the 18,000 incomplete? Then why do you need commentaries? We're discussing a subject that is unlimited. Unlimited numbers of people can say unlimited number of things to enhance our appreciation.
"Preaching activities are external, raga-marga is internal. The internal activities are always higher."
TKG: First of all the paper says that we say that preaching activities are external. External doesn't mean material, inferior or unimportant. The terms external and internal come from the section of Caitanya-caritamrta that explains the reasons for Lord Caitanya's descent. It explains that there is an external reason and an internal reason.
The external reason is to propagate the sankirtana movement. Does it mean it's a material reason? Or unimportant? Or superficial? And the internal reason is to experience radha-bhava and teach the world about the mood of following in Srimati Radharani's footsteps. These are explained in the Caitanya-caritamrta as the external and internal reasons for Lord Caitanya's descent.
So that is the implication of "preaching is external." It doesn't mean it's material. When someone says something is external it doesn't mean the sankirtana movement is a material process. It is fully spiritual. We have to understand this point when we talk about preaching and use the term external.
GS: I wanted to quote one verse which I think whoever compiled the paper has read and perhaps misunderstood. Seva sadhaka rupena sidha rupena catra hi. One should follow and serve the residents of Vrindavan as a sadhaka and as a sidha. In that verse, Srila Prabhupada, in Caitanya-caritamrta, uses the words internal and external.
The actual explanation is that Rupa Gosvami is also a resident of Vrindavan. So as a sadhaka we follow him externally as he used to chant the holy name, offer obeisances, study, write books, do parikrama and so on. But internally as a siddha he is Rupa Manjari. So one follows both moods in raganuga-bhakti, but only when one is qualified.
So this false statement that the internal is higher than the external, implying that as one becomes more advanced he'll pay more and more attention to the internal and neglect the external and thus cause the preaching mission to fail is wrong. In fact the instruction of Rupa Gosvami just quoted defines the difference between real rupanugas and sahajiyas. Real rupanugas follow both internally and externally.
BP: And if one's internal Krsna consciousness is deep, one's preaching will also become more potent.
TKG: And where is the proof that devotees who visit Narayana Maharaja neglect their preaching? Where is the proof? This statement here says, "Since there is an apparent stress on internal raganuga activity over preaching, the practical result of senior devotees associating with Narayana Maharaja is that many other devotees are not being properly encouraged to engage in active preaching work." Can you show me some examples, please?
BP: It is so insulting.
TKG: Where are the examples? I want to see the examples. For example, when I taught "The Nectarean Glories of Vrindavana" at the VIHE - I think Bhakti-Caitanya Maharaja was present - Prthu Prabhu was regularly attending. Why? Because he was eager to hear me glorify preaching, which I did without fail in every single class. I was explaining again and again that our qualification for being in Vrindavan is that we are preaching. None of us, by example or words, discourages the preaching movement. And yet this is one of the things being said about us. Where is the proof?
LS: One question is raised: You say that preaching is going strong in your zone, more books are distributed, temples are being renovated, constructed. But one devotee said you could have done ten times or twenty times as much if you were...
TKG: Let someone who is doing ten or twenty times more than me tell me how.
BP: Well, if they stopped eating they could preach more. Stop all eating and sleeping. Then the time for preaching will increase. How can it possibly decrease the preaching if devotees increase their Krsna consciousness? It sounds so absurd. Then we should make sure all devotees remain neophytes.
DS: Where is the example of someone else? That's the thing. Prabhupada says, you do what they are doing and then you speak. Otherwise it is easy to say anything.
TKG: I am out in the preaching field eight to nine months of the year, and when I come here I am constantly writing or preaching. What is it they think I should do more?
BP: Sometimes Giriraj Maharaja is not spending time in Bombay. He is spending all his time in Vrindavan.
GS: I also have service in Vrindavana. But I wanted to speak on TKG's behalf.
TKG: What am I doing that's preventing me from doing ten times more? What am I doing that's stopping me from doing more preaching?
LS: Spending more time.
GS: You mean the one and a half months he is ....
BP: Sometimes three or four months. But Prabhupada also came back so many times to Vrindavan and Mayapura. Because this is the inspiration of the devotees. These dhamas give strength so that one may go out and preach.
TKG: This is the blessing I got from serving Prabhupada in his last year and not asking anything from him. He showed me how to live in Vrindavan.
GS: The same could be said about everyone. Everyone could be doing ten times more.
TKG: If he wasn't sick he could do so much more than he is doing. He shouldn't get sick. He is doing so much already, but if he didn't get sick, can you imagine what he could do? Is that a fair criticism? That's ridiculous.
BP: What I say is that before our eyes we have TKG, a fifty-year-old man. To carry on in his preaching and to get strength and inspiration in his preaching, which by the way, is in difficult fields-China, Hong Kong, and Texas-he wants to spend some time in Vrindavan. He doesn't neglect his duties. So who should regulate him? He is fifty-years-old. He is not twenty-years-old. Not seventeen-years-old. Who should tell him? If Vrindavana is his inspiration, his life for preaching, who should tell him he should change his inspiration so that he can increase his preaching?
BVPM: As he mentioned before, he is also training disciples when he is here. There is also that aspect. It's not just the preacher in the field distributing books who is the only preacher. As your disciples advance and ask questions, you have to give time to them. And you have to study yourself so you can answer their questions.
BP: If you don't study, when disciples ask questions you won't know the answers. They'll think that Guru Maharaja doesn't know anything. Who will they ask? Then we'll complain that devotees are going outside ISKCON for answers. We want ISKCON devotees to know everything, but we don't want to give them time to study. Then everyone just becomes active foolish.
One spiritual master and old devotee and friend told me that when disciples ask questions on Prabhupada's books that he doesn't know the answer to, he tells them to meditate upon it and when you are ready Prabhupada will answer you from within your heart. Where does the sastra say that is our process? We are supposed to study and hear from devotees. That's parampara. And anyway, why doesn't the spiritual master first meditate and receive the answer and then just tell the disciple?
GS: When I was speaking with HH Sridhar Swami about why I associate with Narayana Maharaja, he immediately understood - within a management paradigm - that I was talking about increasing performance capability as opposed to performance. He said that a big problem in ISKCON is that everyone is so worried about performance that they don't pay enough attention to increasing performance capability.
BP: A quadrant four activity.
PP: Quandrant three. (Laughter)
BP: People often come here, dying and dry, to get recharged. Because we attempt to study, and because we teach, devotees become so enlivened with VIHE. Because the teachers have studied the devotee feel like they are getting nectar and then they go out and preach.
PP: Can we move on?
"Srila Prabhupada's work was incomplete. He established the foundation but there is still a grand "temple" extending into the highest realms of raga-bhakti which must be established by his disciples. HH Narayana Maharaja can assist us in this endeavor."
TKG: This next supposed viewpoint of ours says that we say Srila Prabhupada's work was incomplete. Nonsense. He said, I gave the framework.
GS: The framework means from top to bottom.
TKG: Who said this?
PP: It comes from the transcript of the Visvarupa Mahotsava, Narayana Maharaja's statements.
GS: Anyway, if devotees really do want to understand Narayana Maharaja, they should speak to us, because we know him better, we have associated with him more. If they really want to understand what he thinks about Prabhupada, I think they can probably understand better from us than by reading one lecture transcript in isolation.
?: Why don't you explain what it means....
GS: Anyway, without reference to the transcript, I would say that he agrees that Srila Prabhupada has given us everything and that everything is in Prabhupada's books. But more can be said. And by discussing the other works of the Gosvamis, and even discussing the same books that Prabhupada translated, more comes out of them. It's the sastric process. Srimad-bhagavatarthanam asvado rasakaih saha: one should taste the meaning of Srimad-Bhagavatam in the association of devotees. That is why Srila Prabhupada gave us the morning class and the evening class, because he said we get more out of discussion than by reading alone.
PP: I don't have the transcript with me, the exact quotes, but here's something. It says that "Swamiji has at first prepared the ground by preaching hari-nama and Bhagavad-gita. So very important work. Without this he couldn't have given these things. So he has done this task, and it was so necessary for all the world. But he has not done everything. It was only foundation. After that he began to erect the temple by writing his books. But we are deprived of that. He could not complete his work."
GS: Prabhupada himself said that if he'd lived longer he would have translated so many more books.
TKG: He didn't finish the Srimad-Bhagavatam.
PP: Yes. What people are reading into this is....
GS: I don't even know if it's true, but I heard many times, in ISKCON circles, that Srila Prabhupada said he'd only completed fifty percent of his work. If Prabhupada said he only completed fifty percent of his work, nobody minds. But if Narayana Maharaja says something, because of prejudice, they take it differently.
BP: But no one thinks that Prabhupada just established the foundation meaning just the basics.
GS: When he says the ground, what he means is that pure bhakti is anyabilasita sunyam jnana karmady anavrtam. So to cut the jungle, as he says, of mayavada and karmavada and other things, is to clear the ground for pure bhakti.
GS: When Prabhupada was in Teheran, Atreya Rsi made some very sentimental statement that one day the Muslims would be chanting Hare Krsna. And Prabhupada said, "Why should they chant Hare Krsna? They can chant 'Allah, Allah.' We are not sectarian."
And in Sri Lanka Prabhupada said we could keep a Deity of Buddha in the temple. It is completely wrong that unity can take place only when they give up everything and surrender to ISKCON and the GBC.
TKG: Prove. Give any shred of evidence that Prabhupada said it. Again ... "There is nothing in the act of formation of the BSCT which suggests that Srila Prabhupada was overruling his previously stated desire that the Gaudiya Vaisnavas should be united under ISKCON's banner." Where is that statement?
GS: Where is that previously stated? Where?
TKG: Listen to this quote from Bhakti Charu Maharaja. Listen to this, "However, when our duty is to police the Society we cannot be worried about offending others. For the sake of a greater cause we have to be prepared to take some risk. I am sure that when we are taking the risk for the sake of Srila Prabhupada he will protect us. Did not Arjuna fight against Bhismadeva, a mahajana, for the sake of Krsna? What we are trying to do is to just protect ISKCON."
My only comment is...Won't Prabhupada protect us also? We are also trying to protect ISKCON - against the offenses he is suggesting ISKCON members take part in.
What is this, Panch?
PP: I am just trying to voice what I perceive as being the inner heart. You have spoken your heart on these issues, and I have heard the hearts of others. My own heart is drawn towards your perspective, and at the same time afraid, because I am neophyte. I am really a neophyte.
BP: The last part of neophyte is fight. That's what always happens. (Laughter)
PP: I am afraid of making a mistake. I see my senior Godbrothers on one side and other senior Godbrothers on another side. It's very, very difficult.
TKG: Can I say something? Please see how limited what we are proposing is. We are proposing only that devotees' personal association should not be restricted. That's all.
GS: I haven't really understood what the problems would be. Say there were ten instead of forty, what big difference would it make, especially if in the forty, he is increasing faith in Prabhupada, enthusiasm for service, knowledge of Gaudiya Vaisnava siddhanta.
BP: Up to this point, he's been sending everyone to ISKCON. But if ISKCON cuts all relationships with him, as it seems ready to do, he may start his own preaching. Then it won't just be five a year. It won't just be twenty. It could be hundreds and hundreds of...
BP: Up to now he was basically just sending everyone to ISKCON.
GS: I don't think the GBC has to do anything except lift the restriction. They don't have to certify him. They don't have to condemn him. They don't have to make any decision. They should just leave it up to the individual to decide. Narayana Maharaja is not easy to understand. He has no time, he is not interested. He feels visitors are a botheration in a sense. So not many will go. It's like during the zonal acarya days. The use of force created so many problems and disturbances. Just take off the artificial restrictions. You don't have to make any statements or judgement.
PP: My personal feeling is that it would be better if the GBC were to firmly establish and propagate a philosophy of guru tattva that is more in line with our siddhanta.
TKG: The real issue is siksa-guru. And the block is diksa-guru. Just like the real issue in the mid-80s was the zonal acaryas and the solution was to expand the number of gurus. Now the problem is coming from diksa-guru and...
PP: And then finally maybe we can be clear of blockage. We have been constipated for the last 15 years.
BP: Men and money.
PP: Right. It's men, it's money, it's control, it's authority. It's a lot of things. It's a lot of heavy institutional hierarchies.
TKG: I got such good training from Narayana Maharaja because I saw a selfless siksa-guru and how he deals with my diksa disciples whenever he had occasion to meet them at any public function. He just increases their faith so much in me that I realize that there is no threat. Actually there is no threat. It's the greatest blessing. I've personally experienced it.
TKG: You know who gives siddha-pranali initiation? The babajis at Radha-kunda. They give siddha-pranali initiation.
PP: We heard of something called manjari-diksa.
TKG: They do all these things. And he is the enemy of the babajis. More than anyone in ISKCON he is capable of defeating the babajis.
GS: Not only that. He is aware of all the subtleties involved in their position and the dangers of it. And the whole history of the antagonism between the babajis and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura.
?: Did he give some special rasika initiation to Arca Vigraha before she died?
TKG: You have to understand how the rumors spread. Our critics told Suhotra Swami when he visited Vrindavan. They whispered in his ear that Arca Vigraha was given siddha-pranali initiation. Instead of asking Giriraj Maharaja, who was present here in Vrindavan, about it, he went to Europe and told Harikesa Maharaja and Bhakti Charu Maharaja. He also told them who he heard it from. I met Harikesa Maharaja in Zurich - by chance. I told him it's just nonsense. And I got a letter from Bhakti Charu Maharaja enquiring. I was outraged because this woman was one of the most advanced persons I ever met. He didn't give her siddha-pranali initiation. I was infuriated that Suhotra Swami would have gone to this extent. I said to Bhakti Charu Maharaja, "Why are you criticizing Narayana Maharaja and us? Why are you besmearing the name of mother Arca Vigraha while she's on her deathbed?"
LS: I am amazed. Where does this come from?
GS: It's a rumor. It's fear, attachment, envy.
BP: That's what it is. People criticized Narayana Maharaja for visiting Arca Vigraha on her death bed. "What right has this Narayana Maharaja to come to visit Arca Vigraha?" This is what people told me.
She is dying. She has some faith in this man. And people, with no heart, no brain, dare to criticize. One's whole faith is tested at the time of death. And they are criticizing this man for coming to visit her at the time of her death.
PP: Hare Krsna. Hare Krsna.
BP: At the time of her death they criticize. Such a low mentality.
TKG: Don't be like Bhisma. I am praying to you all. Please, at some point get outraged and do something. If you want, come with me. We should sit. You should examine. I am ready to open anything up to you if you really want to understand, but at some point you have to really speak up: "That's wrong. This is wrong." It's low politics.
GS: We very much appreciate the first step you all have taken; we just want it to go further.
TKG: We want it to go further. That's the point.
PP: Well, we at least have to make our report. That much we have to do. When this is ready, this is going to be a long detailed thing.... We are just about out of time.
TKG: One very important point is hari-nama initiation. There is criticism of his style of hari-nama initiation.
TKG: He gives the Gaudiya Matha hari-nama initiation, not the ISKCON hari-nama initiation. That's got nothing to do with us. But with Western devotees, he makes them chant 16 rounds and follow the four principles. He has accepted Prabhupada's standard. He has no doubt that Prabhupada knows what's best. He just doesn't do a big yajna.
GS: Narayana Maharaja has mentioned that he appreciates Prabhupada's system in ISKCON more than the system in his institution. He is not the acarya of his institution and he is loyal, so he may not be able to make changes, but he does appreciate Prabhupada's genius and inspiration in relation to preaching and organizing a spiritual movement.
?: It goes further than that. He accepts Srila Prabhupada as his siksa-guru. He said it openly many times.
LS: He said it at that Mayapura parikrama.
TKG: Out loud. In his room he keeps a photo of Prabhupada that's as big as Kesava Maharaja's, side by side with it. And he's got their acarya's photo about this big.
PP: Even my wife was talking with one devotee who just came from his parikrama and her observation was that Narayana Maharaja was actually bothered by the Western devotees.
GS: He is asking for relief. He is really asking for relief.
?: Not canvassing.
TKG: The few Westerners he really wants to deal with, actually, are the twelve senior people, because he is sure they can take full advantage of his association. In the long run it will be the best service for ISKCON.
"There is a difference between cooperation and unification."
TKG: Who is pushing to unify ISKCON with the Gaudiya Matha? Do they present this as our position?
"Srila Prabhupada distinctly wanted this unification to take place under the banner of ISKCON and under the management of the GBC body."
TKG: I am just curious to find out where this came from.
BVPM: I know in Mayapura Prabhupada had offered the Gosvami Matha, "I will give bus and books. All they have to do is get their brahmacaris and take it out and distribute." It didn't have anything to do with being under the GBC.
GS: This is very important. This is used again and again to prove that Narayana Maharaja hasn't really accepted Prabhupada, that he hasn't either left his Guru Maharaja's institution and surrendered to the GBC body or merged his institution with ISKCON under the GBC body. It's absurd to think that Prabhupada would have even suggested it.
TKG: Where did this come from that there is need of unification, that they are supposed to give up their institutions, merge with ISKCON, and work under the GBC? Besides Jayapataka Maharaja's desire for it, can anyone show me anything in writing or in speech where Prabhupada says this? I know Jayapataka Maharaja envisions this as the only possible way. But where does it come from?
LS: It will never happen.
TKG: It will never happen, but where did Prabhupada say it should happen?
BP: In Australia Prabhupada told the Christians all they have to do is give up eating meat and that we should cooperate for preaching.
PP: There is some other talk about resignation.
BP: On Com?
PP: Well, there was Suhotra's message, and then some other talk.
BP: The funny thing is that no one ever talks to the people involved. It's like a bunch of ladies gossiping.
"Narayana Maharaja is such an exalted ragatmika devotee, and his mood is the same as Srila Prabhupada's, his association is practically as valuable as Srila Prabhupada's association since the taste and benefits are the same."
TKG: What's this objection about? "HH Narayana Maharaja is such an exalted ragatmika devotee..." Who says this?
?: This is supposed to be your position.
GS: They are attributing it to us?
TKG: Yes, it's our position. "His association is practically as valuable as Srila Prabhupada's association since the taste and benefits are the same." This is what they say that we say.
LS: This comes from Visvarupa Mahotsava. Jadurani was explaining something after lunch.
PP: She was saying that the inspiration she received for her paintings has come from Srila Prabhupada to Narayana Maharaja to her.
TKG: That's very reasonable.
PP: So it's not me giving paintings to Narayana Maharaja, it's him giving paintings to me. Or Srila Prabhupada is giving me paintings through Narayana Maharaja.
GS: In other words, Narayana Maharaja got an inspiration for a painting and asked her to put it on canvas. As Prabhupada's disciple she sees Srila Prabhupada working through Narayana Maharaja. But because the vision of the painting is coming from Narayana Maharaja to her, she considers herself just the instrument to put it on canvas. So it's coming from Prabhupada to Narayana Maharaja to her.
TKG: Everyone who has a siksa-guru would think like this. That's the point.
GS: One problem in the movement in general is lack of understanding of guru-tattva. I was just going over in my mind the issues that have shaken the movement over the years. They were the zonal-acarya system and the posthumous-ritvik theory and the present "problem." And all three disturbances have come from lack of proper understanding of guru-tattva. We don't understand siksa-guru. Because we don't have a clear understanding that the original guru is Krsna and that every other guru is just repeating Krsna's message and serving Him, we get into the personality cult, the Prabhupada sampradaya, and the idea that if you accept a siksa-guru you are minimizing Prabhupada. If you see your siksa-guru as one with Prabhupada you are minimizing Prabhupada. All this is due to improper understanding of guru-tattva.
BP: Through the zonal acarya crisis, the movement established the position of the Founder-acarya. Through the ritvik theory crisis, we established the diksa-guru. And now, through the present crisis, we have to establish the proper understanding of siksa-guru.
"Many, many senior devotees see evidence that Narayana Maharaja's mood is not the same as Srila Prabhupada's. One may have opinions about the taste of the fruit being the same or the mood being the same, but such opinions must be confirmed by guru, sadhu and sastra. To draw such conclusions means that one considers that one actually fully understood the taste and mood of Srila Prabhupada's association. Srila Prabhupada established the GBC body specifically to detect and root out such speculative conclusions based on material sentiment. There is nothing in Srila Prabhupada's direct instructions to support this position."
TKG: "Many senior devotees see evidence that Narayana Maharaja's mood is not the same as Srila Prabhupada's." I am waiting to see what that evidence is.
PP: Again it's all based on hearsay, misreadings. Narayana Maharaja's talks are difficult to follow and he speaks from a different perspective. As I perceive it, his grammar is also different from what we are accustomed to.
TKG: Therefore you should take help from people who are close to him and who understand him.
PP: So different conceptions have come that Narayana Maharaja has a different perspective on preaching than Srila Prabhupada.
TKG: To some extent what you say is true, but our critics also have a motive. From the beginning they have had a very negative attitude which makes it difficult for them to approach us for an accurate understanding. They want to see faults in him. But I am not going to misrepresent him. After you understand him properly, if you still don't agree, then you can get upset.
PP: I know. Personally I found that when I read Narayana Maharaja's statements with the attitude that he is speaking the same as Srila Prabhupada, I understand his words in that way. If I read with the attitude that he is speaking something different, I understand in that way. Whatever attitude I read it with I get a different meaning.
TKG: Isn't it true with Bhagavad-gita?
BP: Another point is that many senior devotees say that Narayana Maharaja's mood is different from Srila Prabhupada's. Well, Bhakti-vidya-purna Maharaja doesn't have exactly the same mood as Srila Prabhupada, nor does Giriraj Maharaja, nor Lokanath Maharaja.
GS: Nor did Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura.
PP: Within our society, there are all different moods.
PP: Now, can you say something about this siddha-pranali initiation?
BP: Step into the back room, Panca.
BP: What are people saying?
PP: It's a rumor. That he gives siddha-pranali initiation.
BP: To whom?
PP: To ISKCON devotees.
BP: To Giriraj Manjari? To Tamal Manjari? What is it? What is it?
LS: From these nicknames given.
BP: What? Two people of all the people that he sees? So nicknames were given. Where's the siddha- pranali?
"One's internal development of Krsna consciousness is primary and one's institutional relationship is external. If we have to choose between our spiritual relationships and ISKCON GBC resolutions we must choose the former."
This one is also wrong. Instead of external it should say secondary. One's internal development of Krsna consciousness is primary. But I don't agree. How can one separate one's Krsna consciousness from one's service?
GS: They argue against our supposed position by saying that because Isvara Puri served as the menial servant of Madhavendra Puri he got Madhavendra Puri's mercy.
TKG: The argument against us - that we care for internal development but not external service - is wrong. Our lives don't show that. We are serving the institution continuously....Now 3.3, love and trust.
"There should be love and trust in those devotees who have served in leadership roles in ISKCON for so many years that they should be allowed to make decisions about how they cultivate spiritual life without trying to make superficial institutional restrictions."
We are questioning, not disobeying. Do we have the right to question? Does questioning mean disobedience?
GS: To the contrary, if we were selfish we could very easily keep quiet. But precisely because we are concerned about the well-being of the movement, which begins with the GBC body, we are raising issues we think have to be dealt with properly by the GBC body, not just for our own selves but for the general welfare of the devotees in our movement, now and in the future.
TKG: Now it says that others who are doing well should have the right to question us. Fine. Let them question us directly, but not on Com.
TKG: It's Com bat. They want to score points. Next, 3.4.1, under "our position," they place the words in our mouths: "That these resolutions have not been followed by the GBC body for so many years so they in effect have no validity and need not be followed."
That isn't our position. Anything that's in the books has to be followed or, if it's not proper, it should be repealed.
BP: Last year I submitted a proposal to repeal these 1982 resolutions. Due to the nature of last year's meetings, the proposal was not dealt with.
GS: Two years ago Ravindra Svarupa said he was going to drop the resolution of 1982 in the revisions committee. He never did it. It's been the policy of the GBC not to go over old resolutions one by one, but rather to have the revisions committee deal with them.
But Ravindra Svarupa himself told the GBC body he thought the resolutions were defunct. Not only were the resolutions neither followed nor enforced, but the GBC itself went to Narayana Maharaja during the ritvik theory agitation and printed a discussion with him in the ISKCON Journal, the main instrument that defused the ritvik crisis. The conduct of the GBC itself indicates that the old resolution was defunct. It just was never officially removed.
TKG: Gaura Govinda Maharaja also took siksa from outside. For years, from around '82, he took siksa from a Gaudiya Matha babaji.
"As a consequence of the lack of importance placed in institutional considerations and the view that managerial matters and institutional rules are 'external,' and thus inferior to 'internal' affairs, there is no strict following of the GBC body's rules nor of commitments made to the GBC body such as the agreement which was signed at the 1994 meeting."
TKG: Let them prove that we've minimized the importance of the institution. Prove it. It's false.
TKG: And we never said that managerial matters and institutional rules are "external" and thus inferior to internal affairs. We've already demonstrated that this is false. "There is no strict following of the GBC body's rules, nor of commitments made to the GBC body such as the agreement signed at the 1994 meeting." I've proved that we have followed.
LS: Many don't know that.
TKG: If they don't know, why should they assume - especially without asking us? Anyway, now they'll know.
GS: A copy of the undertaking was left with Jagadish Maharaja. If the people who are so quick to accuse us of not following had themselves followed the undertaking and brought their concerns to Jagadish Maharaja they would know. Instead they broadcast their misinformation all over the world. They are the ones who didn't follow the procedure that was agreed upon in Mayapura.
TKG: Do you understand? All concerned parties were informed that there is a liaison officer, and if you have grievances you should go to him. I pointed that out in my letter to Suhotra Maharaja. He admits that he should have done it, but he said he thought it was good enough to talk to two GBC men. But that's not what we agreed. He has just perpetuated the problem.
LS: They say that the liaison officer wasn't accessible.
GS: After Visvarupa Mahotsava I was very concerned to inform Jagadish Maharaja according to proper procedure. He was at the Saranagati farm, the most accessible place of all. And I got through within two days. I phoned the Vancouver temple, got the phone number of some devotees who lived near Saranagati, and made a phone appointment to speak to Jagadisha Maharaja.
LS: The other thing they say is that he was chosen because we knew he wouldn't do anything.
TKG: Come on, Maharaja. He was also chosen as the chairman of the GBC.
GS: He was also a local Vrindavana GBC, famous for being grave, fair-minded and....
TKG: So it's not true - a typical baseless accusation.
"Naturally the junior devotees will follow the example of the seniors."
I want to know if that has happened. Since it's so natural, why hasn't it happened?
?: Haven't we covered this?
TKG: I know. I am covering it again. You know why it hasn't happened? Because it's not natural.
GS: What is natural is that different devotees will progress in different ways. And devotees should understand what Prabhupada said so many times: One should act accordingly to one's position and not imitate. Devotees who became gurus and tried to imitate had trouble. But if as gurus they act according to their actual position, they can be gurus. So it is just natural that different devotees will have different services and inclinations. And devotees have to understand the principle of doing their duty and acting appropriately for their own position and not imitating.
TKG: If those leaders who keep talking of HH Narayana Maharaja were actually convinced there was a problem, they should kindly approach and convince me. Do not threaten me. "Those who wish to follow HH Narayana Maharaja should resign."
PP: No, I know. I had to explain to her that she misread it. And I could see how she misread it. You asked how these things come. They come out of misreading Narayana Maharaja's statements and misreading of other statements.
GS: It comes from something deeper. It comes from hostility. Because if anyone really wanted to know what Narayana Maharaja meant they could easily have asked us. Or him.
BP: Like Sankarsana was mature, and after Nandalal approached him with her preaching he asked me. I cleared the same Mahavishnu point immediately.
PP: Yes, enmity is at the root.
GS: They don't want to know. They wish to find faults to discredit Narayana Maharaja, to discredit us, and keep ISKCON as narrow and crippled as...
"The authority of the GBC can be discounted in certain internal matters, and one's heart and faith cannot be legislated. If one of Srila Prabhupada's dear friends captures our heart and helps us serve Srila Prabhupada we cannot give him up on the demands of the GBC body, which has made so many mistakes in the past."
TKG: The last line says that we cannot give up Narayana Maharaja on the demands of the GBC body. My comment is that I don't want to give him up simply on sectarian demands. I will give him up by reason, scripture, convincing arguments.
They claim that our position is that we want to be loyal to Prabhupada but not to the GBC. Which one of us has ever said that we will not be loyal to the GBC but only to Prabhupada? If there is anybody in the movement who has fought against this it's me. I believe it more than anyone. I have proved it again and again.
Then if you say, "You say you follow the GBC, but you haven't accepted the GBC's will," I will show that I did accept the GBC's will. I am following the undertakings except for one, once, and I explained why. I have followed the GBC. When the GBC told me to leave my zone, to leave all my disciples, I did it. Nobody ever did this the way I did. I did it. Last year, to stop them from breaking the movement to pieces, we agreed to these undertakings, although we couldn't stand them. My whole life I've done this.
PP: It just came from...
BP: It's just politics.
TKG: The man who said it, I trained this man up. I trained him up about what the GBC is. Now he is telling me and saying I should be kicked off the GBC body because I don't know what it means to be a GBC man, to be loyal to the GBC. I blindly follow the GBC. I used to blindly follow; now I want to follow with my eyes open. But I'll never stop following.
I cannot stand what people insinuate and then put all over Com - all over the world - so that people look at me as if I gave up my loyalty to the GBC. I am an original GBC member. I have never given up my loyalty to the GBC. Never. I gave up all my disciples, I gave up my zone, and I went with nothing to China just to maintain faith in the GBC.
You all can't remain neutral. Sooner or later you have to speak up. Fifty men spoke up and they righted the wrongs in our movement. You have to see that a great wrong is being done here and, whether it's popular or not, finally you have to speak up and say, "Enough of this. This is nonsense." Otherwise it looks like a vendetta: one group of GBC over another. It's got to be neutral people who are not GBC men to finally carry the way out. If there is a large group of non GBC men who become fully convinced, especially senior devotees, everything will come clear.
?: Convinced about what?
TKG: Convinced that this is a completely false case.
PP: This case has been brewing since the beginning.
TKG: Who brewed it? Four people brewed this here in Vrindavan. It wasn't brewed by every Tom, Dick and Harry in town. Four people. And one GBC member took it up. That's history. Not everybody is into it. I don't disagree. Many people are into it. But this is how it became a conflagration.
BP: At least this point should be clear. If the arguments now being attributed to us are the actual arguments against us, these arguments are weird and obviously false and dishonest. That at least should be clear. These are dishonest arguments "One may argue we are still loyal to Prabhupada but not loyal to the GBC." Who is arguing like that? Where did he get that idea? When did any one of us indicate that was our argument?
PP: See, when we got into organizing this discussion, we made a conscious decision not to go through the exercise of enumerating different statements by different people at different times, different incidents, different facts or alleged facts, etc. We wanted to focus our attention on the principles of the argument.
TKG: I am saying that after all is said and done, as an intelligent man, you should look into this and become convinced one way or another.
PP: Yeah. I have been talking. I do talk to a lot of people and they say this and I say well, you know, but. So things like that go on. And I learned a lot today. I have to thank you very much.
TKG: You are helping. I just hope you are understanding our simple point, that our visiting Narayana Maharaja is not a threat to our movement. But I do think there is a serious threat to our movement that we now need to take stock of. There are some serious blockages which have created this problem. There are very serious misrepresentations of our philosophy. This Prabhupada sampradaya concoction is a very, very dangerous schism. It's apasiddhanta and it is being pushed by some GBC people. It's very, very bad. It is cutting us off from the whole Caitanya tree.
PP: We were handicapped because we did not have the text of your undertaking to the GBC. All of this having to do with following GBC authority was based on hearsay.
TKG: You know why we never let anybody have a copy of the undertaking? We feared that Narayana Maharaja would learn of it directly. We never told Narayana Maharaja these things, because if we had told him in March, after the GBC meetings, he would have been feeling the way he feels now. We were trying to avoid hurting him. So we tried to keep this very, very carefully.
PP: All of these objections are nullified, in my mind, because, as you have said, you have followed the GBC resolutions.
TKG: I have gone to see him half a dozen times. Yet people have the impression I go all the time. That's not true.
LS: On parikrama you joined, or some joined.
TKG: I went once. That was one of the half dozen times this year. Although I wanted to go - I would like to have gone everyday - I didn't. I restrained myself.
PP: We have only a little time and I would like time to conclude.
TKG: Let's go through it. 3.2.
TKG: I say there about a dozen senior people, maybe half a dozen men and half a dozen women. Senior people like ourselves. Now you should correct me if you know differently. But I think there must be another dozen people who are junior. Junior means they've only been devotees somewhere between seven and fifteen instead of twenty-five years. I say there is another dozen of them. And many of these people live in Vrindavan all the time. And I think that all these people I mentioned are continuing active service in ISKCON. Apart from that I think there must be another two dozen people around the world who are not in ISKCON and who have some relationship with Narayana Maharaja through initiation. To my knowledge, at this time, that's the total extent of his massive following after six to seven years.
But I can definitely say it's going to increase now, thanks to the way this issue has been handled. But while we were maintaining friendly relations with him, he was insisting that devotees continue to take shelter and initiation within ISKCON. Even now he continues to say that. But he was really saying it. He was considering that he was under the GBC. He would even ask us whenever there was some tension with ISKCON as to how he should deal with it.
But even now it's maybe somewhere between forty to fifty people maximum. Now after so many years, is that so dangerous? In your own opinion is it a large number?
PP: The fear is not of the present number. But as we have been talking before, the ramifications of ISKCON actually establishing a broader vision of ISKCON and spiritual authorities and so on are great. Up until now ISKCON has been operating under a very close system.
TKG: Of all my disciples, none of them goes to see him except one who lives here. If anybody had any interest to go it would be my followers because of my example. Why is it that they don't go? Lokanath Swami interviewed them. If they were following my example, why is it that they have no interest to go? And if my disciples are not going, whose disciples are going? They have to get their guru's permission. So where is the danger? And what is it that Narayana Maharaja tells people who go to him? Even the people estranged from this movement that he initiates, he tells to serve in ISKCON because they can't get shelter within his institution. He doesn't really initiate in his own organization. He is getting ready to wind up everything. He just wants to do writing and bhajana. Where is the danger from this person? We have been told he is a huge threat to the movement.
BP: Not just a huge threat - the biggest threat.
TKG: Biggest threat that ever hit this movement is this person. Can you see that it is all false?
You can't remain neutral. Sooner or later you have to answer as to your opinion. Everybody will have to answer: It's either correct or incorrect, right or wrong. Why are you still fearful? Or why is everyone else fearful? Convince me. You can't simply hold a stick up to my head and say, 1982 resolution.
What actually is the danger? Lokanath Maharaja told me that because of Narayana Maharaja his disciple ran away from preaching. Now it turns out that she was a sahajiya running all over the place after every little babaji, and the two people here who happen to be connected to Narayana Maharaja saved her.
Give credit to those two people and Narayana Maharaja; you should give credit where it's due. This girl was running after every babaji in this city, as we finally heard. We didn't hear the same story you told the other day. Now I've heard the actual facts. And this is going on again and again and again. Issues are being exaggerated, bluffed, and misunderstood. What I want is a neutral group of people to judge this thing. Really neutral people.
This is wrong, Lokanath Maharaja. You said that Madhavi was lured to Narayana Maharaja by these two matajis, but actually she was saved by them.
BP: And Karta said that she never even brought her one time to see Narayana Maharaja!
TKG: Karta never brought her to see Narayana Maharaja. You were swayed by all that you heard. Madhavi is forty years old. Her husband died. She is not able to go back to Japan to distribute and collect after so many years. She's old.
LS: We could say that this is a special case.
TKG: The case against us has been built, you know, by hundreds of such little misrepresentations.
TKG: You know my disciple Gauridas, the Gurukula ashram teacher? He went through two gurus. Jayatirtha and Bhagavan. He went through the biggest crisis you can imagine for six to seven years trying to find his guru. But he was so disillusioned by these two falldowns that he just couldn't put full faith in anyone. He finally went to Narayana Maharaja and Narayana Maharaja preached to him about how the ISKCON gurus are qualified and that even if a guru is not uttama from an objective point of view, he will still be able to give you everything up to prema one day because he will be uttama. And he completely instilled faith in this man's heart for our ISKCON gurus. And then, because of Narayana Maharaja, Gauridas conceived of taking shelter of an ISKCON guru.
Yet all we hear on Com is the complaint that Narayana Maharaja is influential in the Gurukula! Narayana Maharaja himself has no interest to initiate. I am just saying, this is the kind of service that this person does.
BP: Jadurani did not talk about how she met Narayana Maharaja. When she arrived here a few years ago she was still into the ritvik theory. Candrika, Rupa Vilasa's ex-wife, both of them were into the ritvik theory, and Narayana Maharaja completely cleared that and he gave them faith in ISKCON and ISKCON's authorities.
GS: Jadurani wasn't painting. She was doing comics. By Narayana Maharaja's association she came back to Prabhupada's original instruction to her and now she is doing the most extraordinary paintings of Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Radha-Krsna.
TKG: When Ramprasada saw Jadurani's painting for the first time, he said, "I can't paint anymore. How does she continue? She is the only artist from Prabhupada's time that's still painting." And yet, what is ISKCON's appreciative response? "Why is she painting and giving Narayana Maharaja the paintings?" That's the only reply. Simply meanness of heart. Just see the meanness of heart.
TKG: Never mind that she is inspired and is not a ritvik follower anymore.
BP: Can I say another thing about 2. We never say that he has a special revelation of Srila Prabhupada. I am just wondering where in the world the idea has come from?
PP: I can tell you. The Visvarupa Mahotsava transcript can be read in a great variety of ways. I mean, unfortunately Narayana Maharaja's speaking is very difficult to follow, which I noticed, for example, with this whole thing with Mahavisnu. Nandalal told me that Narayana Maharaja said that Prabhupada was on the level of Mahavisnu preaching.
TKG: Who did Prabhupada say should comment on the Bhagavad-gita? Bhakto si me sakha ceti. Unless someone is a devotee and a friend he cannot understand the mind of the speaker. Therefore if you want to know what Narayana Maharaja said, just ask a devotee and a friend. They'll tell you exactly what he meant. We don't have to ask a person who is totally hostile. Just like if you want to know what Krsna said you don't ask the scholars. You don't ask a Mayavadi. You don't ask the people who dislike Krsna. Why ask this woman who has made herself so totally inimical to us and Narayana Maharaja, "Could you explain, mataji?" and expect her to explain clearly what he said.
"Because we were too neophyte Srila Prabhupada only revealed a limited perception of himself. Because of his long and intimate association with Srila Prabhupada, HH Narayana Maharaja can help us to perceive Srila Prabhupada's eternal, nitya position."
"HH Narayana Maharaja has repeatedly stressed that Srila Prabhupada is an eternal associate of Krishna in manjari bhava. However Srila Prabhupada did not reveal to us his siddha deha. HH Narayana Maharaja can help us to more fully appreciate Srila Prabhupada."
BP: Years and years ago it was going around that Prabhupada was only in sakhya rasa. The implication was that Prabhupada was therefore inferior. The point was that other devotees, his Godbrothers, were in madhura-rasa, so they were superior.
So in the midst of this propaganda, Narayana Maharaja, every disappearance day festival of Prabhupada's, would preach that Prabhupada was in madhurya-rasa to counteract this nonsense propaganda that you have to go outside of ISKCON to reach the higher realms of Krsna consciousness. That's where it began that Narayana Maharaja says that Prabhupada is in madhurya-rasa.
TKG: I don't understand the next point. "Our understanding is that the spiritual master may reveal his eternal sidha deha to an intimate advanced disciple or follower, who then may reveal it to others. HH Narayana Maharaja does not accept Srila Prabhupada as acarya and his intimacy and friendship is on the level of Srila Prabhupada's external activities. How can we accept that he has a special revelation of Srila Prabhupada."
They say their understanding is that the spiritual master may reveal his eternal siddha-deha to an intimate advanced disciple or follower, who then may reveal it to others. They continue by saying that HH Narayana Maharaja does not accept Srila Prabhupada as acarya and his intimacy and friendship are on the level of Srila Prabhupada's external activities. Can you explain what they mean?
PP: This is someone's perception that Narayana Maharaja's association with Srila Prabhupada was in relation to the preaching and different activities that he had during his early days, so we cannot assume...
GS: Narayana Maharaja and Srila Prabhupada were friends and Narayana Maharaja used to serve Srila Prabhupada in many ways. He used to cook chapatis for him. They enjoyed an intimate friendship and they discussed confidential things which perhaps Srila Prabhupada didn't discuss with us. This is natural because different people have different relationships. To think that to have intimate relationship with Srila Prabhupada one has to accept him as the acarya and surrender to him in the mood of disciple and become subordinate to the GBC is ridiculous.
As far as I can understand they had a mood of intimate friendship and service and Narayana Maharaja said they discussed many things.
TKG: Another point. Narayana Maharaja explained that the Gaudiya acaryas in our line are usually in madhurya-bhava. And from the symptoms that we've seen of Prabhupada's activities - like establishing Radha-Krsna all over the world and so many other things - and since madhurya-bhava is the most complete relationship of the five rasas, for this and various other reasons we accept his statement that Prabhupada is in madhurya-rasa.
Prabhupada told us to chant prayers, nikunja yunoh rati keli siddhyai, and we meditate on them in relation to Prabhupada. That's clearly in madhurya-bhava. Prabhupada also wrote Jayapataka Maharaja that those prayers are not necessarily for all gurus. And yet Prabhupada specifically taught us to sing them to glorify him. So that indicates something. The prayer before that is also indicative of madhurya-bhava.
So Narayana Maharaja has made us more aware of this fact and certainly it will have more and more relevance as we advance and understand more.
To say that this is not important, as some GBC men suggest, "I don't care what you are in your nitya-lila," even though we say jaya nitya-lila om visnupada, but "it doesn't matter what you are in nitya-lila." I think that's pretty extraordinary.
I want to know Prabhupada. I want to come close to Prabhupada. I want to love Prabhupada. I know I may not know every detail about Prabhupada's identity, but based upon scripture I can certainly understand some general things about what Prabhupada must be doing now.
As far as Prabhupada's actual identity, Narayana Maharaja has told us very clearly how we are going to be able to understand it. He said that at the right time, when you are qualified, your Guru Maharaja will reveal it to you in your heart. He has never told us that he would tell us. He has never indicated that he knows what it is, specifically. He has only said to us that at the right time your Guru Maharaja will reveal to you in the heart.
So it's very astonishing to me that the very thing our critics say should happen - that Prabhupada will reveal his identity to us - is exactly what Narayana Maharaja has been saying all along.
They have been fabricating all this other garbage about what we are supposed to be saying, which is not what we are saying. It's just the same thing again and again. So I hope this will clear the point. Narayana Maharaja never said he would tell us. He always said that when the disciple is qualified he will get to know by the grace of his guru.
BP: In this criticism, and in so many of the others, there is always this intimation that Narayana Maharaja is saying "I am your Guru Maharaja, Prabhupada's, dear friend. Because I am his dear friend, if you surrender unto me and come to me, I will reveal so many intimate things that you do not know because I have a special relationship with him."
That type of talk is just mythology. He doesn't speak like that. We don't think like that. He has not propagated anything like that.
TKG: He does not talk excessively about the relationship. He just discusses scripture with us. He says scripture can give you many, many indications about your guru. That's how he helps. A siksa-guru can help you by teaching you the meaning of scripture.
BP: He had a friendship with Prabhupada and they had lots of affection. That's it.
TKG: And he said that they had talks and that from their talks and the singing Prabhupada did and the choice of songs Prabhupada sang he could understand something about Prabhupada's position. Narayana Maharaja mentioned that Prabhupada regularly sang two songs--the Prayers to the Six Gosvamis and Sri Rupa Manjari Pada. And he says that from these songs and the talks they had, he has no doubt that Prabhupada was in madhurya-bhava.
Who are we to question it? In any case, I don't need to question it because there is enough scriptural evidence to convince me. And I am further happy to hear this confirmation from Narayana Maharaja.
But it doesn't mean there was some intimate deep friendship and that's why he is now specifically qualified. We have never said that and have no interest to make him the siksa-guru of ISKCON. That's the myth people have been propagating. But it is not true. And it's obvious he is not. So many don't accept him. That's why I keep saying, all I see is fear of fear. It's blind fear. I am waiting to see reasons for the fear. Then I will stop seeing him.
If all I hear is you saying "I am just fearful" or "I am disturbed" how can I be convinced? Why are you fearful? Just show me why you are fearful. Show me that philosophy. We are going through it. There is nothing. So far there has been nothing. The things attributed to us are all incorrect. If these are the reasons, then on every single one we are correct. And how many people go to see him? Why don't you ask that question? What is the extent of this following in ISKCON?
LS: I asked ...
[end of available transcript]
[Originally published 04/10/99 on VNN]