Purity is the Force
Following the Mayapur GBC meetings in 1982, a paper entitled, Purity is the Force, was published by the GBC in an attempt to justify their harsh legislation in regards to Srila Sridhara Maharaja. This paper was written anonymously by two GBC members. One authors previous lavish glorification of Srila Sridhara Maharaja is presented earlier in this book. The substance of this paper, Purity is the Force, consists of accusations formulated from commonly misunderstood issues, purposeful misinformation, gross distortion of the truth and bold-faced statements which bear no semblance of truth. The ontology of these accusations is strikingly similar in methodology to the deprogrammers anti-cult techniques of propagating fear. In Larry D. Shinns article, "Religious Freedom and the Psychology of Fear: The Hare Krsnas on Trial," published in the Iskcon Communications Journal, Issue Number 1, 1993, four tried and true techniques are given:
Guilt by association
Manipulation of public opinion by exaggerated stories
Dismissing contradictory and scholarly evidence by name-calling
Lastly the most "insidious" technique to engender cult fear is the "Big Lie."
If we make an honest comparison between the ontological presentation herein and that of "Purity is the Force" we submit that one will see a vast difference. In the former (this book) we have tried our level best to present the truth logically and respectfully as it is, whereas a close look at the latter reveals that although it may have served the apparent needs of the moment, it fails miserably to "stand the test of time," apparently utilizing the techniques mentioned above by Mr. Shinn. In consideration of just this method of presentation one Prabhupada disciple quipped,
"If this has anything to do with Krsna consciousness, I dont want anything to do with it."
In the following section the accusations contained in the official GBC paper "Purity is the Force" are answered. We hope that our readers are able to understand that this unfortunate and offensive publication has been presented in a biased way, written in a very strong accusatory and inflamitory manner, in an attempt to discredit the good character and exhaulted spiritual standing of Srila Sridhara Maharaja.
Books are the Basis
In the paper "Purity is the Force," it is alleged that Srila Sridhara Maharaja says that Srila Prabhupadas books are for the masses, and insufficient for reaching the perfection of Krsna consciousness. This is a complete fabrication. It is of course well known that Srila Prabhupada said that everything was in his books:
In my books the philosophy of Krsna Consciousness is explained fully so if there is anything which you do not understand, then you simply have to read again and again. By reading daily, the knowledge will be revealed to you and by this process your spiritual life will develop. So the cleansing process is this chanting and hearing and doing some service and trying to please the Spiritual Master. By this process our consciousness becomes clear and we are able to understand everything. You may please me the most by reading my books and following the instructions therein and by becoming fully Krsna Conscious in this life time. (Ltr Bahurupa 74-11-22)
Maintain your activities and increase gradually. I have instructed everything in my books. (Ltr Dina Dayal 76-02-25)
I have given my ideas and direction in my books. People appreciate. I think from my side I have done everything. (770429RC.BOM)
If they (the GBC) cannot answer from their experience, then I have given answer in my booksand still if they cannot answer, they may ask me. (Ltr Kirtika ~ 72-02-16)
And if Srila Prabhupada isnt available, whom shall we ask?
Numerous quotes by Iskcon stalwarts, presented in the beginning of chapter five, attest to the veracity of Srila Prabhupadas instruction that we should approach Srila Sridhara Maharaja when we have questions. Additionally, many quotes of Srila Prabhupada attesting to his high regard and absolute faith in Srila Sridhara Maharaja have been presented throughout this document.
. . who is the most highly competent of all my godbrothers. This is
B. R. Sridhara Maharaja, whom I consider to be even my siksa guru."
"What Sripada Sridhara Maharaja has directed, I take it on my head . . . it is appropriate that I should accept his direction." (SP Ltr Govinda Mj ~ 69-01-29)
What Govinda Maharaja has said is true. I consider him my dear son, and his guru as my siksa guru. (SP ~ Iskcon Mayapur Candrodaya Mandira opening ceremony 1974)
Those who are intelligent, they are making something, Sridhara Maharaja and others. (770113RC.ALL)
my important Godbrothers says. Hes sincere.
If we follow the instructions in Srila Prabhupadas books then we will find that he also strongly recommends reading other books, provided of course that one is qualified:
. . . False devotees think that studying books of the previous acaryas is inadvisable, like studying dry empiric philosophies. But Srila Jiva Goswami, following the previous acaryas, has inculcated the conclusions of the scriptures in the six theses called the Sat-sandarbhas. False devotees who have very little knowledge of such conclusions fail to achieve pure devotion for want of zeal in accepting the favorable directions for devotional service given by self-realized devotees. (Cc. Adi-lila 2.117, purport)
"Sri Sanatana Goswami Prabhu, the teacher of the science of devotional service, wrote several books, of which the Brhad-bhagavatamrta is very famous; anyone who wants to know about the subject matter of devotees, devotional service and Krsna must read this book." (Cc. Adi-lila 5.203)
Within the past five hundred years, many erudite scholars and acaryas like Jiva Gosvami, Sanatana Gosvami, Visvanatha Cakravarti, Vallabhacarya, and many other distinguished scholars even after the time of Lord Caitanya made elaborate commentaries on the Bhagavatam. And the serious student would do well to attempt to go through them to better relish the transcendental messages. (Bhag. 1.1.1. purport)
Bhaktivinoda £hakura happens to be acaryas, one of the acaryas. And he has left behind him many books. Caitanya-siksamrta, Jaiva Dharma. These are very important books. Theyre in Bengali, in Sanskrit. And many songs. He has prepared many books of song. The song, Ei nam gaya gauracand madhura svare, that is Bhaktivinoda Thakuras song. So we are trying to present Bhaktivinoda Thakuras books also in English translation. Gradually you will get it. (690923BA.LON)
We have to worship the acaryas. That is recommended in the Bhagavad-gita, for making advancement in spiritual life, acaryopasana. So this is acaryopasana, by reading their books, nana-sastra-vicaranaika-nipunau sad-dharma-samsthapakau. Why studying so many books? For the sake of establishing real religious life. Sad-dharma. (710628LE.SF)
That we should not try to read Bhaktivinodas books or earlier
books of other, all acaryas. So I was just wondering...
In chapter one, in the section entitled "Temple of Understanding" we have presented excerpts from two room conversations between Srila Prabhupada and Srila Sridhara Maharaja wherein it is disclosed that the idea for a very large Vedic Planetarium originated from Srila Sridhara Maharaja and that he has taken its conceptual ontology depicting the gradations of theistic evolution from his favorite book, the Brhad-bhagavatamrta.
Similar other quotes substantiating the necessity to scrutinize books other than his can be found throughout Srila Prabhupadas books. Thus it is not only the opinion of Srila Sridhara Maharaja and his present followers, but Srila Prabhupada himself has also recommended the study of the teachings of the other Vaisnava acaryas. Of course, study of the scriptures must be done under the direction of the spiritual master, otherwise one may become distracted to the path of jnana, which is opposed to the path of bhakti. It is also a well known fact that the majority of senior Iskcon leaders all extensively read books other than Srila Prabhupadas books to supplement their preaching and writing activities. A careful reading of Srila Sridhara Maharajas "Sri Guru and his Grace" provides one with a plethora of perfect sastric advice tailored exactly to the necessity of the troubled times. Those who categorically disregard this book are precisely the ones who need to read it. And Srila Prabhupada, having implicit faith in Srila Sridhara Maharaja instructed us that we should approach Srila Sridhara Maharaja.
It was purported in the paper "Purity is the Force" that Srila Sridhara Maharaja had awarded sannyasa and brahmana initiation to Iskcon devotees who were initiated by Srila Prabhupada, thereby committing an offense to Srila Prabhupada. This fabrication, in respect to reinitiation, is soundly refuted in chapter five in the section entitled, "Did Srila Sridhara Maharaja Reinitiate Srila Prabhupadas Disciples?"
It was also claimed in "Purity is the Force" that giving sannyasa initiation to Iskcon devotees was a violation of Srila Prabhupadas direction to the GBC that any nomination for sannyasa must come from the GBC as advised by Srila Prabhupada. The fact is that these three devotees who took sannyasa had lost complete faith in the GBC and had been staying in Srila Sridhara Maharajas asrama for many months absorbing his high level talks. The GBC as a result of their unannounced 1981 decision to stop taking siksa from Srila Sridhara Maharaja were not available for discussion. Previously Srila Sridhara Maharaja had always given due consideration to the GBCs policies as much as possible. Srila Sridhara Maharaja could not easily dismiss the genuine desires of these devotees to embrace the high ideals of sannyasa life. Nor, as admitted by the very GBC themselves, was Srila Sridhara Maharaja expected to come under their jurisdiction.
Gaudiya Matha Breakup
The authors of "Purity is the Force" attempt to blame Srila Sridhara Maharaja for the fighting amongst Gaudiya Matha factions after the disappearance of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura and the Gaudiya Mathas subsequent breakup. The primary evidence cited for this supposition is Srila Prabhupadas 1974 letter to Rupanuga. We have discussed this letter in chapter five in the section entitled "Most Highly Competent of My Godbrothers," wherein it is revealed that this letter is out of concert with the overall entirety of Srila Prabhupadas loving relationship with his dear godbrother Srila Sridhara Maharaja. Additionally, chapter three comprises a detailed history of events pertinent to this issue, all of which greatly clarify Srila Sridhara Maharajas actual position. The truth of the matter is that time and again Srila Sridhara Maharaja was asked to settle disputes amongst the Gaudiya Maths warring members, to arrange compromises when no-one else dared approach certain members out of fear. In the purport of Caitanya-caritamrta Adi-lila 12.8, Srila Prabhupada writes:
The words daivera karana indicate that by dint of providence, or by Gods will, the followers of Advaita Acarya divided into two parties. Such disagreement among the disciples of one acarya is also found among the members of the Gaudiya Matha.
Thus, the cause of the split in the Gaudiya Matha is clearly indicated by Srila Prabhupada to be "by dint of providence, or by Gods will." One year previous to writing the Rupanuga letter, Srila Prabhupada addressed his disciples, in the presence of Srila Sridhara Maharaja at Srila Sridhara Maharajas temple in Navadvipa. Srila Prabhupada, with full knowledge of the events surrounding the disintegration of the Gaudiya Matha, stated:
. . . our relationship is very intimate. After the breakdown of the Gaudiya Matha I wanted to organize another organization making Sridhara Maharaja as the head." (730317RC.MAY)
In the Srila Prabhupada Lilamrta, Vol. 1, page 100, Satsvarupa Maharaja clearly mentions Srila Sridhara Maharajas non-involvement in this entire affair:
Sridhara Maharajas establishment of a Matha in Mayapur with a branch in Calcutta was his response to the Gaudiya Matha split . . . Here Abhay and Sridhara Maharaja could remain aloof from the warring factions and together pursue their plans for spreading Krsna consciousness.
Here the Lilamrta is referring to the subleasing by Srila Sridhara Maharaja of four downstairs rooms from Srila Prabhupada at Sita Kanta Bannerjee Lane in Calcutta. If Srila Sridhara Maharaja was in actuality responsible for the splitting of the Gaudiya Matha, why would Srila Prabhupada ask him to be the president of Iskcon? Why did Srila Prabhupada say that we should go to Srila Sridhara Maharaja after his disappearance, if he didnt trust him? Rather than belabor this point we refer the readers to the innumerable additional heavily documented arguments presented throughout this presentation.
Further Insubstantial Accusations
Accusation 1: Guru Puja Excessive
"Sridhara Maharaja has said that the daily guru-puja performed for Srila Prabhupada in Iskcon temples is excessive and unnecessary. Therefore, Srila Prabhupadas followers disobey Prabhupadas order to follow this when they stay in the Matha of Sridhara Maharaja, although Srila Prabhupada said it was necessary for his disciples."
When queried on the subject of guru-puja by an Iskcon acarya who humbly felt reluctant to accept such elaborate worship as was being offered to him (on March 5th, 1981), Srila Sridhara Maharaja replied that the function of guru-puja was conducted for Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura only once a year on his appearance day, and this was the general practice. Sometimes individual details vary amongst different acaryas, although the essence and goal of their teachings are one.
is no reason why acaryas cannot differ on certain points.
The majestic mood of our Srila Prabhupada was more manifest than that exhibited by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakura Prabhupada, but we are fully aware that Srila Prabhupada never minimized Srila Bhaktisiddhantas glories by accepting such a gorgeous guru-puja daily. Similarly, Srila Sridhara Maharaja never claimed that Srila Prabhupadas guru-puja was excessive or unnecessary. On the contrary, he stated that Srila Prabhupada offered that worship cent per cent to his guru maharaja, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati £hakura.
Furthermore, Srila Sridhara Maharaja was the first person amongst all his own godbrothers (and amongst Srila Prabhupadas disciples) to acclaim Srila Prabhupada as a Saktyavesa Avatara:
One thing is that he was jagat guru. Jagat guru, he has some special inspiration, saktyavesa avatara as I like to tell about him. He was saktyavesa avatara, the abode of some special potency of the Lord. Otherwise, with whose work would not have been possible, by any ordinary acarya, saktyavesa. So a special consideration for him.
In chapter four numerous quotes and other evidence is presented substantiating the extremely high regard of Srila Sridhara Maharaja for Srila Prabhupada. In regards to the necessity for guru-puja, Srila Prabhupada wrote in his Vaisistastakam:
But simply a festival of flowers and fruits does not constitute worship. The one who serves the message of the guru really serves him.
And let us not forget that it was at the Matha of Srila Sridhara Maharaja that Srila Prabhupadas disciples were instructed by Prabhupada to learn how to observe guru-puja. (Ltr Satsvarupa Oct. 26, 1967)
Srila Sridhara Maharaja did say on August 18, 1980,
According to my consideration, as I hear it, the grandeur of the acarya, the puja of the present acaryas, it is undesirable and too much and that will create some difficulty. It should be modified. The way in which the acarya puja has been established, that should be modified to suit the circumstances and some adjustment with the godbrothers should be made. A protocol, a spiritual protocol should be evolved which may not be very harmful to the body, to the association, the Iskcon organization.
Earlier Pradyumnas 1978 prophesy of difficulties due to this overzealous worship was recognized by Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu as perspicuously accurate in its predictions. Also in the 1985 publication of Satsvarupa Maharaja, "Terms and Policies for Revised Guru Worship" it is stated:
"It has become more apparent that daily guru-puja [for the present Iskcon gurus] is questionable."
The very much revised policies for guru worship in themselves admit that the former worship was excessive and inappropriate. The "Revised Guru Worship" presentation states:
"It is not required in the sastras or in the Gaudiya tradition, that there be the formal full arati/guru-puja in the temple every day. This daily puja was not apparently offered to recent acaryas such as Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura or Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura."
Ironically, elsewhere in the same "Revised Guru Worship" paper it is written,
"If the different worship systems we have instituted are excessive, my answer is that we did not know what to do because there was no precedent or scriptural rule that told us specifically what to do."
Yet, this same topic was articulated by Srila Sridhara Maharaja precisely and substantially for years on end to these very same gurus and GBC members, as we have earlier shown. And similar advice based on his many discussions with Srila Sridhara Maharaja was suggested by Pradyumna Prabhu in 1978, for which he was for all practical purposes, kicked out of Iskcon. Let us also not forget that several times various Iskcon gurus, genuinely feeling that it was excessive, tried to tone down their own worship but due to the pressure of their fellow gurus had to give up their reform.
So, it is rather Srila Sridhara Maharaja's accurate no-nonsense sastric advice that the GBC objected to, which they felt was a threat to their unbridled and un-inhibited free reign of the Iskcon kingdom, that which was at the root of the dissatisfaction of the majority of the guru's godbrothers.
Accusation 2: Sakhya-Rasa Guru
"Sridhara Maharaja theorizes in his talks that Srila Prabhupada was in sakhya-rasa, whereas he himself feels to be more in the mood of madhurya-rasa. The insinuations whereby Sridhara Maharaja is made to appear as a higher Vaisnava make a disciple in Iskcon think that he has to go beyond Srila Prabhupada and Iskcon.
Such misconceptions have no basis in fact. Although Srila Sridhara Maharaja had remarked in passing (4 January 1982) that Srila Prabhupada had installed Sri Sri Krsna-Balarama and Sri Sri Gaura-Nitai in some of his temples, a practice generally not so widely conducted in the sampradaya previouslythat this merely indicated some element of sakhya-rasa.
"Where Radharani is, Baladeva cannot stay there by the side of Krsna because there will be clash in the service or rasa. There is a clash in vatsalya, sakhya and madhurya-rasas. And Prabhupada [Bhaktisiddhanta] closely followed this line, that Mahaprabhu can stay, both Radha and Krsna combined, nothing else. So I heard that he had installed Radha Govinda and there some sakhis also by their side. But where Krsna Baladeva and Gaura-Nityananda alsonot Radharani."
Srila Sridhara Maharaja mentioned this in regards to the empowerment of Srila Prabhupada as a Saktyavesa Avatara in Prabhupadas preaching campaignthat it had been successful by the grace of Nityananda Prabhu and Baladeva.
"So to show his real gratitude to Baladeva, Nityananda, he installed them special. Gaura Hari Bol. That I can see, to harmonize his ways and our guru maharaja, from whom he got his spiritual beginning."
In February of 1982 Srila Sridhara Maharaja spoke further:
Let them capture the whole of the world. But at the same time they should not banish the very Deity of their worship. That is one and the same. Swami Maharaja has clearly written that his guru is Radharani. It is there: "Krsna, Radharani will be pleased if you help me in this campaign." Is it not written there? "Radharani khusi habe e-punya koribe jabe." [Prayer to the Lotus Feet of Krsna]So, he has admitted that his guru is Radharani. So, we aspire after the service of Radharani, under the direction of Sri Rupa and others, not committing any wrong, and we are seen as. "Give a dog a bad name and shoot him." Nitai Gaura Hari Bol. (Laughing) Let Mahaprabhu bless them that they may not shoot their desired end of life. Trying to shoot me, [we hope that] they may not shoot the very end for which they are aspiring after. Hare Krsna.
Bhakti Caru Swami: Yes, we are also afraid of that Maharaja . . .
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: I feel that I am not their enemy. I am their friend. I am their friend. But not a flatterer. I am a friend, but not a flatterer.
Aksayananda Swami: That is a real friend.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja never claimed, as accused, that Srila Prabhupada was wholly and solely immersed in, or dedicated to sakhya-rasa. Such an unfounded claim is a complete fabrication. In fact, Srila Prabhupada in chapter 34 of the Nectar of Devotion warns us not to try and judge the internal position of elevated pure devotees:
No one, while remaining on the material platform, should discuss these different descriptions of bhava and anubhava. One should simply try to understand that, on the spiritual platform there are many varieties of reciprocal love. Such loving exchanges should never be considered to be material. In the Mahabharata Udyama-parva it is warned that things which are inconceivable should not be subjected to arguments. Actually the transactions of the spiritual world are inconceivable to us in our present state of life."
Accusation 3: Godbrothers Asara
"Srila Prabhupada thinks, and therefore all his disciples and grand-disciples should also all think that all of his godbrothers are useless (asara), because of his remarks in his books and letter of 1974 to Rupanuga Dasa (e.g. None of my godbrothers are fit to be acarya, etc.)
Regarding Srila Prabhupadas statement in the 1974 Rupanuga letter,
"Actually, amongst my Godbrothers no one is qualified to be acarya,"
It may be noted that he had written a few lines before,
"If guru maharaja could have seen someone who was qualified at that time to be acarya, he would have mentioned. Because in the night before he passed away he talked of so many things, but he never mentioned an acarya."
By this statement, Srila Prabhupada infers that even he, himself, was not apparently fit to be acarya at that time, in the eyes of his guru maharaja. Or, more properly, the divine ordinance had not yet manifested for his acaryaship which was to shake the world. Still we, his disciples, know him as the nitya-siddha or eternally perfect pure devotee of the Lord. If later, some of his disciples become acarya, we cannot similarly delve unceremoniously into their past to say when they became fit. Srila Prabhupadas statement about his godbrothers being unfit to be acarya does not exclude the possibility of daivera karana, or the will or divine ordinance of God, by which they are later recognized as acarya, especially when Srila Prabhupada himself practically considers himself as being unfit at the time of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta. Additionally, we have adequately documented the extremely high regard of Srila Prabhupada for Srila Sridhara Maharaja throughout, leaving little room for doubt as to the veracity of this fact. Most of Srila Prabhupadas disciples are well aware of Prabhupadas expressions of his godbrothers shortcomings in general, yet there are also many statements by Srila Prabhupada which seem to neutralize these negative statements, especially in regards to Srila Sridhara Maharaja. If Prabhupadas negative statements are to refer to all his godbrothers indiscriminately, then what about Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Maharaja, Srila Prabhupadas sannyasa guru, whom Srila Prabhupada also is on record as having much affection for, or Niskincana Krsna dasa Babaji Maharaja, who is the only other godbrother besides Srila Sridhara Maharaja to sit on the vyasasana with Srila Prabhupada? Clearly then, we cannot make such sweeping generalizations.
So unwillingly I accepted. And then I remembered that he wanted me to go to the Western country. So I am feeling now very much obliged to my, this Godbrother [Kesava Maharaja], that he carried out the wish of my spiritual master and enforced me to accept this sannyasa order . . . So he did this favor upon me because he was an ocean of mercy. (681021DK.SEA)
"The disciples of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami are all godbrothers, and although there are some differences of opinion, and although we are not acting conjointly, every one of us is spreading this Krsna consciousness movement according to his capacity and producing many disciples to spread it all over the world." (Bhag. 4.28.31)
"Even amongst our godbrothers we have misunderstanding, but none of us is astray from the service of Krsna. My guru maharaja ordered us to execute his mission combinedly. Unfortunately we are now separated. But none of us have stopped preaching Krsna consciousness. Even there was misunderstanding amongst the godbrothers of my guru maharaja none of them deviated from the transcendental loving service of Krsna. The idea is that provocation and misunderstanding may remain between one man and another. But our staunch faith in Krsna consciousness may not allow any material disruption. Please therefore try to be sympathetic with any person, even if they differ. The only qualification we have to scrutinize is if one is acting in Krsna consciousness as far as one is able to do it." (Ltr November 18, 1967 ~ Brahmananda)
Just prior to his departure in 1977, Srila Prabhupada asked Narayana Maharaja and Krsna Dasa Babaji to request his godbrothers to forgive him if he had committed any offenses against them while preaching. This is an example of Srila Prabhupadas perfect behavior in conformity with the scriptures, as a perfect spiritual master (acarya) instructing his disciples in the proper code of conduct in relation to the spiritual masters godbrothers. One must also very carefully consider that although Srila Prabhupada may have sometimes spoken roughly about his godbrothers he strongly rebuked his disciples whenever they followed suite. This is of course the sastric advice that
"one should respect ones spiritual masters godbrothers as one respects ones spiritual master." (Cc. Adi-lila 5.147, purport)
This was strictly followed by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu in regards to Advaita Acarya (Cc. Adi-lila 6.40) and even the most offensive Ramacandra Puri. (Cc. Antya-lila 8.46) Srila Prabhupada told us in 1977 that "the war is over" and he formed the Bhaktivedanta Swami Charity Trust to
"bring unity amongst the Gaudiya Vaisnavas, especially the followers of His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura."
Accusation 4: Authority Rejected
"Sridhara Maharajas followers are minimizing Srila Prabhupada by rejecting their natural authorities in the Iskcon family, thereby avoiding their responsibilities in Iskcon and creating an overestimation of Sridhara Maharaja as equal or superior to Srila Prabhupada. They say that he should become the new world acarya for Iskcon."
This is a misconception based on the erroneous assumption that the followers of Srila Sridhara Maharaja were insincere and politically motivated rather than aspiring for genuine spiritual guidance when they approached him. The followers of Srila Sridhara Maharaja never claimed that he was superior to Srila Prabhupada, although they do claim, as stated in Srila Prabhupadas books, that the diksa and siksa gurus should be known as equal, otherwise offense is committed (Cc. Adi-lila 1.48, purport) Furthermore, it was never claimed that Srila Sridhara Maharaja should become the new world acarya for Iskcon. This statement in the paper "Purity is the Force" is a complete fabrication. Most of those who were hearing regularly from Srila Sridhara Maharaja were ready to continue working under the Iskcon authorities, as directed by Srila Prabhupada and as directed by Srila Sridhara Maharaja, but could not do so because they were rejected by the GBC. That is, to continue their service they would have to completely reject everything even remotely related to Srila Sridhara Maharaja. To hastily reject Srila Sridhara Maharaja is an underestimation of his natural authority in the family of the entire tree of the Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya Vaisnava Sampradaya, of which Iskcon is a branch. Srila Prabhupada warns us of this in his Bhaktivedanta purports, that we must give
. . . equal respect to all the preachers of the cult of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who are compared to the branches of the tree. Iskcon is one of these branches." (Caitanya-caritamrta Adi-lila 10.7, purport)
Although one may be well versed in the transcendental science, one should be careful about the offense of maryada-vyatikrama, or impertinently surpassing a greater personality. According to scriptural injunction one should be very careful of transgressing the law of maryada-vyatikrama because by so doing one loses his duration of life, his opulence, fame and piety and the blessings of all the world. To be well versed in the transcendental science necessitates awareness of the techniques of spiritual science . . . The rule is that in the presence of a higher personality one should not be very eager to impart instructions, even if one is competent and well versed . . . The Lord never tolerates the impertinence of maryada-vyatikrama. [Bhag. 3.4.26, purp.]
At the same time, Srila Sridhara Maharajas advices were never and can never be seen to be motivated in respect of becoming or imposing himself as a "new leader." Srila Sridhara Maharaja was well known for his disinterest in becoming involved with many devotees or becoming a big leader. Many quotes in this regard have been given throughout this presentation. Srila Sridhara Maharaja refused to become president of Iskcon, he refused to accept disciples for a long time and repeatedly stated that he wished to have only his spiritual thinking and not move with many devotees. He instructed the devotees who had already left Iskcon to form their own society separate from his, regulate themselves separately and come from time to time to him for spiritual advice.
"Srila Prabhupadas godbrothers minimize him by calling him "Swami Maharaja."
Throughout this presentation we have amply documented the repeated exalted glorification of Srila Prabhupada by Srila Sridhara Maharaja. We have more than amply documented that Srila Sridhara Maharaja was not in the least envious of Srila Prabhupada and that he always spoke most respectfully of Srila Prabhupada. And Srila Prabhupadas sannyasa name is "A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja," or simply "Swami Maharaja" for short. And this is the standard kept throughout the Gaudiya sampradaya. It is a natural and affectionate address of one godbrother to another. We, his loving disciples, have out of affection added the "Prabhupada." It is absurd to demand that Srila Prabhupadas godbrothers call him "Prabhupada." Yes, some objected to our use of the name Prabhupada, but it was Srila Sridhara Maharaja himself who preached to them and made them favorable. (see chapter four) If one of our godbrothers becomes a self effulgent acarya and significantly spreads Krsna consciousness, his disciples may similarly want to call him "Prabhupada." And certainly we will all object vehementlythat his position is insignificant in comparison with our Srila Prabhupada. But we must ask ourselves if it is fair to think that Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada is seen as any lesser in the eyes of his disciples than Srila Bhaktivedanta Prabhupada in ours.
And Srila Sridhara Maharaja when conversing with Iskcon devotees, often referred to "your Prabhupada" and "my Prabhupada" (Srila Bhaktisiddhanta), and then always in a mood of great admiration and affection.
Accusation 6: GBC Criticism
"Sridhara Maharajas constant criticism of the GBC minimizes the devotees faith in the GBC and consequently in Srila Prabhupada, who ordered everyone to follow the GBC."
Iskcon stalwarts complained for years about the GBC and were continuously frustrated in their attempts for reform. Many who approached Srila Sridhara Maharaja for advice in this regard were surprised to hear him many times support the GBC position and encourage these devotees to try and cooperate with the GBC. And when Srila Sridhara Maharaja pointed out the deficiencies in the GBC he did so with no motive other than concern for the many disheartened senior devotees who were going away to the unknown quarter in genuine disappointment with the progress of the movement after Srila Prabhupadas disappearance. Relevant excerpts from various transcripts quoted throughout this book consistently show a very concerned, cautious sastric approach from the very beginning by Srila Sridhara Maharaja. In Iskcon itself, senior stalwart devotees complained repeatedly about the undesirable situation within Iskcon and in 1985 the North American Temple Presidents instigated an investigation into these apparently unauthorized activities of Iskcons leaders, which they felt were contrary to Srila Prabhupadas desires and plans for Iskcon. This has been discussed in detail in Ravindra Svarupas 1985 paper, "Under My Order," Reflections on the Guru in Iskcon, portions of which we presented earlier in this chapter. A careful reading of the section entitled "Is Srila Sridhara Maharajas Mood different than Srila Prabhupadas?" in chapter five will leave little doubt in the readers mind that there were indeed at that time (early to mid 80s) grave and malignant problems within the Iskcon management systemproblems which deeply troubled the devotees.
The deplorable condition is that although Srila Prabhupada had initiated more than 3,000 disciples, after his disappearance in 1977, only a few hundred remained in the formal movement by the mid 1980s. Although Srila Prabhupada emphasized that it was the leaders duty to maintain the enthusiasm of the devotees such that they did not leave Krsna consciousness, we present throughout many statements of respectable godbrothers showing that the leaders style of management was overbearing and served to have the opposite effect, that of discouraging the vast majority of Srila Prabhupadas disciples:
. . . so in the future we can form a Central Governing Body for the whole institution. Therefore the management should be done very cautiously so that everyone is satisfied in their autonomous managing capacity . . . You should always deal things so tactfully that people may not fall away. Every being is important in Krsna conscious service, and we must take all precautions that one may not fall away.(SP Ltr TKG: October 18, 1969)
There must be always individual striving and work and responsibility, competitive spirit, not that one shall dominate and distribute benefits to the others and they do nothing but beg from you and you provide. No . . . I am little observing now, especially in your country, that our men are losing their enthusiasm for spreading on our programs of Krsna Consciousness movement . . . The whole problem is that they are not following the regulative principles, that I can detect. Without this, enthusiasm will be lacking . . . I do not think that the leaders are themselves following, nor they are seeing the others are following strictly . . . Our leaders shall be careful not to kill the spirit of enthusiastic service, which is individual and spontaneous and voluntary. They should try always to generate some atmosphere of fresh challenge to the devotees, so that they will agree enthusiastically to rise and meet it . . . Forget all this centralizing and bureaucracy. (SP Ltr Karandhara Dec. 22, 1972)
The first business should be to preach to the devotees. It is better to maintain a devotee than to try to convince others to become devotees. It is the duty of the GBC to maintain the devotees, keep them in the highest standard of Krishna Consciousness . (SP Ltr Satsvarupa: 16 June, 1972)
Amongst ourselves there must be very liberal and friendly dealings. This is not an ordinary thing that if somebody has got some fault he should be cut. He should be reformed by amicable dealings. We are training our men since a long time. It is very difficult to get trained up assistants. (SP Ltr Bali-mardana: Sept. 5, 1974)
In this respect, a vivid example of sincere concern for the many problems within Iskcon by a senior disciple of Srila Prabhupada is seen in a letter addressed to the Governing Body in 1982, by His Holiness Jayadvaita Swami, at that time former editor of "Back to Godhead" Magazine and chief editor of practically all of Srila Prabhupadas books, as follows:
"One of our sannyasi godbrothers has committed suicide, Srila Prabhupadas seniormost daughter has become bitter to the point of frenzy, the man Srila Prabhupada appointed to complete the Srimad Bhagavatam has left us in frustration and disappointment, an enthusiastic preacher has become discouraged and ensnared by lust and ambition, a main builder of our Vrndavana temple is living like a hermit, several staunch brahmacaris have sought shelter in marriage and a depressingly large number of our godbrothers and sisters have quietly or not quietly left Srila Prabhupadas society. Now some devotees are turning in desperation to Sridhara Maharaja. And others are holding on in Iskcon, deeply dissatisfied but nurturing a hope that things will change . . . Somehow or other, large numbers of Srila Prabhupadas disciples feel strongly disturbed, discouraged, bitter, offended, confused, angry, or unhappy because of their relationship with their godbrothers who have accepted the mantle as initiating gurus."
Mistreatment of one sannyasi godbrother by his zonal authority was so blatant that it elicited strong responses from several respected senior Vaisnavas:
21 January, 1985
Dear XX1 Swami,
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to our eternal master, guide and well-wisher, Srila Prabhupada.
I am usually not one to enter political frays, waving banners and storming barricades, but I am so shocked and sickened by your recent blood-cry against XX2 Swamis, sent in the form of a letter and "report" to Iskcon leaders, that I feel compelled to articulate my personal reaction . . . You've come to warn us alldecent citizens of the kingdomof the doom to come, of traitors in our midst, of "conspirators," ''blasphemers,'' "poisoners," "murderers," "honey-tongued snakes," and "demons." We are informed that the Devil has now incarnated as His Holiness XX2 Swami, and that he is to be shunned and disgraced. We must not, you warn, talk with him nor hear what he says, nor let him darken our doorways, for even the best of us may fall under his magic spell, bedeviled by his sweet and confounding lies.
In my fifteen years in Iskcon, I've never heard such dangerous nonsense. Devotees throughout the world who know Bhakti Dayal Swami have the utmost respect for him and will not be stampeded into unthinking condemnation of him, as you seem to insist. I am no controversy monger, and might not even have had a great curiosity to hear from XX2 if not for your hysterical anathemas ("The lady doth protest too much!").
Myself and others recently met your "devil" and spoke with him at considerable length and found him to be not at all worthy of your fervid denunciations. One need not be a highly gifted discerner of spirits to see that Bhakti Dayal Swami is a sincere and benign Vaisnava of high moral character, a devoted disciple of Srila Prabhupada, a loyal supporter of Iskcon and its institutions, and one of our most expert and successful preachers. He is no "international political revolutionary" or sinister conspirator as you claim. Rather, he is a self-effacing, disarmingly humble devotee who, even in the face of the absurd torment you all are subjecting) him to, seems disinclined personally to seek a vendetta.
I have read your version of the events and heard Bhakti Dayal Swami's. Employing my very best instincts for discerning sincerity and honesty, I have to say that I find myself more inclined to believe him than yourself. There is such a tone of frivolous and malicious exaggeration (and who knows how much sheer inventiveness) in your report that you yourself cast serious doubt on your whole case.
This man's only crime seems to be his willingness, after much suffering and silence, to seek rectification for what he sincerely views (I think quite reasonably) as fundamental violations of sacred principles of Krsna consciousness and of human decency.
Whatver the facts of the case, it is clear that you are subjecting Bhakti Dayal Swami to a horrendous campaign of persecution and defamation which is almost impossible to conceive occuring within a society of devotees. He and XX3 Prabhu present what appear to be fairly compelling documented evidence of considerable wrongdoing on the part of the leadership in your zone (including some rather irregular behavior on the part of Harikesa Swami).
To the extent that the movement, especially its leadership, sells its principles short, to the extent that decisions are made on a passionate, expedient, self-serving basis, to the extent that devotees are dealt with inhumanely, to the extent that power and control are exercised through threat, deceit, intimidation, witch-hunts and Gestapo tacticsto that extent it is difficult to represent Iskcon with a clear conscience and with enthusiasm. I cannot be a glorified P.R. cover-up man. Whatever I speak or write about the movement is taken seriously in academic circles only to the extent that I am perceived not as an apologist, but as an objective and honest interpreter of it. Please do not make my task an impossible one . . .
Yours in the service of Srila Prabhupada,
Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu wrote similarly, condemning the treatment of this sannyasi preacher by his GBC authority:
It is with great regret that I have read your 1/4/85 letter (and the accompanying report) to "all authorities in ISKCON" regarding Bhakti Dayal Swami, and I want to register my strongest objections to your procedure for dealing with this issue. You should realize how much you have damaged yourselves by your own actions.
I am not, of course, in a position to adjudicate the disputes that have erupted in your zone. That is a matter for the GBC. Yet you have advanced an aggressive and widespread propaganda campaign in [geographical area] against Bhakti Dayal Swami and XX3 Prabhu thus making the issue a public one. In Vienna alone, XX Prabhu was subjected to two lengthy telephone harangues by XX3 Swami with a follow-up from XX1 Swami. And now this letter and report. In forcing this issue into the public arena, you have proceeded with such passionate unrestrained vehemence and produced such an awesome display of overkill, that many of us became very inquisitive to hear the other side. I went out of my way to do so, and I am at least quite satisfied that there are two sides to this case.
In your letter and report you prosecute, judge, and sentence Bhakti Daya Swami before all Iskcon and at the same time try to frighten and bully us into not hearing him. Any honest devotee will respond to this cheating by wanting to hear Bhakti Dayals side of the case . . .
All intelligent devotees will recognize the perverted logic by which you try to establish your assertion that Bhakti Dayal Swami is part of a demonic plot against Iskcon. The obvious evidence of his loyalitythat he has not left ISKCON like others but is keeping the association of Iskcon devoteesis, you say, only proof of how devious his plot is. I suppose the fact that he is putting his case to the GBC through due process and submitting himself to its authority only show how even more insidiously devious he is! In other words, your assertion that he is part of a demonic plot is wholly metaphysical, for no possible experience could disprove it. The only thing you would accept as proof of his innocence is his confession of guilt. Interestingly enough, this is the same tack taken by the Puritan divines in the Salem witchcraft trials, by Sen. Joseph McCarthy in his communist witch-hunt, and by Joseph Stalin in the Moscow purge trials. However, none of these people should be accepted as models for Vaisnava behavior.
Finally, you proclaim that anyone who "supports" Bhakti Dayal Swami is "falling under the spell of psychological intimidation." Since the letter we have just read is a masterpiece of psychological intimidation, we are lead to wonder whether this whole demon-hunt in Eastern Europe is an egregious instance of the unfortunate practice of scapegoating, i.e., projecting ones own sins onto others and then "purifying" ones self by destroying the others . . . It is especially unfortunate that a devotee of Srila XX5 Swamis stature [GBC Guru] has signed his name to this letter and endorsed the enclosed report. One can only hope that he has been the victim of very bad advice.
I pray that this finds you well.
Your servant in the service
Ravindra Svarupa dasa
Needless to say, this sannyasi was dealt with very harshly by the GBC and forced out of the Iskcon movement. An excerpt from his recounting of incidents follows:
6th January 1985
Respected Privilege Commitee
Dear GBC Godbrothers!
Please accept my humble obeisances at your feet, all glories to Srila 'Prabhupada.
As you are probably all aware already, during the last month we (myself and about 30 other devotees, mostly disciples of Harikesa Swami) have been thrown out of his zone, our temple has been raided by his men, practically all of our things have been confiscated while the devotees have been threatened several times both physically and spiritually. As another criminal act, they broke into our boutique and preaching center (which is owned by one of us privately) stole all the items for sale etc. All this has happened in my absence as a suprise attack and only after this did I hear from others in other zones that I am accused with being a leading figure in a world conspiracy that is meant to destroy the whole Iskcon society and that I destroyed the faith in the disciples of Harikesa Swami etc. These accusations were unheard before. Since this tragic happening I tried to contact Srila Harikesa Swami several times but everyone refuses to talk with me or with the rest of us. I wrote two letters to Harikesa Swami but no reply came. Up til the present day I have not heard from them anything so I do not-know why we were and are treated like this. As at this point I do not have any other choice, I would like to turn to the Privilege Commitee for help. The situation right now is very tense. A big campaign is launched against us with the aim of forbidding us to enter any other Iskcon temple or that we present our case to other devotees. Around 30 devotees have been forced by the violent actions of Harikesa Swami and his men to seriously doubt his spiritual leadership.
The story of the raid: On Christmas day I called our boutique and preaching center. Somebody picked up the phone but did not reply. From the back the-sounds of smashing things and tearing things down came. I thought it must-be the wrong number. I called again.The 5th time finally somebody answered, but didnt speak. Finally, XX1-Swami replied: "This is XX1 Swami. "We broke into your place, got all of your documents and finished off your empire. This is a war and you will be killed." I was so perplexed that the only thing I could utter was "thank you" and I hung up. The worst is that some senior devotees heard the phone conversation and immediatly their faith in the leaders of our zone was greatly shaken. They told me they cannot accept such an unjust and criminal-act. I tried to calm them down and told them that the only thing they should do in this regard is to pray to Krsna so that everything will be corrected. But they should not give up the guru (thats what they wanted to do upon hearing what has happened). They said that only because of our faith in your words that we accepted Harikesa Swami as our guru. If he rejects you and acts so strange then we will follow you instead . . . I went to the apartment of a householder couple (disciples of Harikesa Swami) and there I found all the devotees of our temple. Some were crying, some were devastated and hopeless while others just stared at the walls. They have been all greatly shaken by the (for them unexplainable) behavior of Harikesa Swami especially that he forced them to accept something which is not the truth and when he saw that they hesitated, he immediately kicked them out into the street . . .
They never told me why they did this against me.There are of course some accusations but let me point out that they were never heard before, noone told me anything and all this came up only after this chain of violant actions . . .
This devotee was ultimately forced against his desires to continue his service outside of Iskcon. More recently Somaka Maharaja wrote in his 1994 paper, In Search of Harmony, of other less than ideal managerial policies:
Is the GBC going to recognize that in the letter that Pradyumna Prabhu wrote to Satsvarupa Maharaja in 1978 he pointed out all the defects that in 1987 due to so many fall downs they had to admit? Are the GBC men going to approach Paramadwaiti Maharaja to recognize that all the defects that he was presenting in his letter of 1984 were forcibly accepted in 1987? Vaisnavas do not get stature by bureaucracy and diplomacy, Vaisnavas get stature based on humility, simplicity, meekness, detachment and so many other godly qualities.
. . . the reform of our movement has not begun yet. In 1987 due to the pressure exerted, some mistakes were admitted, but not publicly and things werent very widely presented, just some new GBCs were made, and some new gurus and thats all. There was no real change of heart. For example in 1987 the zonal acarya thing was recognized to be a mistake. So actually there was no real reform, only a show bottle reform; get some of the dissatisfied and opposing men into the group and thats all. Real reform will appear when a preacher that is working hard in a place to get the movement established and to make devotees and spread Krsna consciousness will be recognized as the GBC for that area, not that there are GBC with enormous zone that they cant control and somebody else is doing all the hard work. Please do not take this as an offense, just try to see that our movement is becoming stagnant due to so much centralization and power-trips.
Recently, a godbrother was telling me that he read in a newspaper that in a survey about religious movements it was reported that the "Hare Krsna Movement" was a more impersonal one. It is shocking that the movement with the most personal philosophy is considered to be actually more impersonal. But actually, in reality, I have personally experienced in the last 16 years that this is terribly true; the relations between ourselves are very impersonal, diplomatic, political and generally with no real love. There is no real feeling of family as at the time of Srila Prabhupada. For example, I remember that at the beginning when a young devotee would bloop I would go to look for him and try everything to get him back. Now, if even a stalwart devotee that has twenty or more years of service goes away, it is just a matter of conversation during breakfast.
Just a few days ago I was speaking to a godbrother explaining to him the situation of a devotee who is now very dissatisfied and lacking faith in the institution. This godbrother was telling me of the very wrong mode that the devotee in question has, and also that this devotee was not making sufficient effort to regain his strength. Although I may agree on many points, in the whole conversation he did not consider for one second what we could do to help him regain faith. The only consideration was what he should do to regain faith.
So, always the entire fault is on the dissatisfied, the dissatisfying party is always fully innocent and the dissatisfied fully guilty.
It is also to be lamented that, due to the intractable problems within Iskcon at the time, the revered writer of the first letter above, Jayadvaita Swami, had felt a necessity to resign from his responsible post as the senior editor of BTG, a post which he had faithfully held for at least ten years. So we can see that Srila Sridhara Maharajas comments are simply a sincere expression of his paternal concern for the majority of Srila Prabhupadas disciples, who are non-GBC members. This paternal concern is due to Srila Sridhara Maharajas intimate relationship with Srila Prabhupada. In chapter one we have documented the extent of this intimate relationship as well as the fact that Srila Prabhupada requested Srila Sridhara Maharaja many times to look after his disciples. From the very first signs of dissension (Pradyumna 1978), we find Srila Sridhara Maharaja cautioning the dissenting party to "wait and see," remain tolerant and not do anything that would go against the decisions of the Governing Body:
Pradyumna: Generally, there is one practice in our temples, that every morning in front of Guru Maharajas vyasasana, the disciples conduct Gurupuja. They offer arati and some puspa and pranama. So, just next to Guru Maharajas seat, the new acarya is taking his seat, and at the same time as Guru Maharajas puja is going on, that puja for the new acarya is going on. So . . .
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: One thing you will remember, that to your gurudeva, you give the maximum respect, and his guru, how do you give above him, flower, fruit, our guru maharaja. So his guru maharaja is Bhaktivedanda. How do you praise your gurudeva and Prabhupada and Bhaktivedanta, his guru, Bhaktivinoda Thakura, Gaura Kisora. What difference do you find?
Pradyumna: We do not question the sisya to give respect to his guru. That is granted. But in front of everyone else, there is some public pressure and force that Godbrothers also should worship as the sisya worships. Because it is in the public place of worship, when Gurubhai comes, there is public pressure. Why dont you worship, he is acarya?
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: You should respect that my Godbrother, meaning that they would worship and that also may be formal.
Pradyumna: There is some pressure in that way.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: We are meeting only you, you are non acarya. I want to meet the acarya class also. At the same time I told Svarupa Damodara, the leaders of both the parties may come to me and I shall try to help. As much as I can help you, I shall do my best. Both the parties should be there. Before the big meeting, they must come in a private meeting to me, and there should be some adjustment, then you have the big meeting, otherwise there will be a clash. I have said like that to Svarupa Damodara and others. We must have a private meeting here. And we shall try to help you all to minimize the differences. And having harmony here amongst the leaders, then you will attend the big meeting on Gaura Purnima. It is a disturbing thing. Before that we must have agreement. To save the glory, the good name of your guru and your mission, you must come to an understanding and it must be sincere understanding, good understanding. Then you will go in the sabha. Before that we must compose ourselves . . .
You see, we want two parties to have a say. Then it will be easier for me; that will be good. What are their feelings, what are their demands. They will also say that they dont like this thing, this sort of facility. How can we go on with our service that has been entrusted to us? They are creating hindrances in our way . . .
There are also differences amongst them also. But still we must go on with some differences and we shall try to minimize the differences. Looking at the feet of the great gurudeva will remove any stress of differences. Still we can go out, but we should not leave them. Our guru maharaja asked us, "How will you be able to perform sankirtana? Kirtana means mixing in the company of those of different adhikari. And with the spirit of harmony you have to go on. So dont think others are superior to you, or all of you are of the same category, same mentality. You cant expect that. There will be some differences and difficulties. Still you must go on, looking up. You are given the benefit of going to Him according to status. So, accordingly you must receive others also with sympathy. What is the difference between yourself and the supreme? In that way, the difference between yourself and the other people is very less, very insignificant. I want to have the admiration, the love, the affection of the Supreme Being. And in the case that there is a little difference between yourself and him, you cannot tolerate him, then how can you expect the Absolute to tolerate yourself? Better if the differences can be harmonized . . .
Next day you may be an acarya. What are the facilities the acarya should get minimum? When you and I will be placed in his position, you will feel that necessity is the mother of invention. Then you will see how these things are, this minimum demand, to maintain the position of the acarya. So, the acarya they should also be represented. And before you all what I shall have to speak I shall speak then. They may also complain here. Then I will recommend some sort of adjustment which will help you all and mostly the followers of the mission. All over the world. It is so important, the movement, all over the world, it will be a most valuable thing for us. We could not even think or dream that this type of preaching we shall see in our lifetime, prthivite ache yata nagaradi grama . . .
Pradyumna: One question is, whether the instructions of the new guru-godbrother or acarya, are their instructions considered absolute for the godbrother?
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: The sastra is there, the gurus statements are there, sadhu, sastra guru vakya sistaka koriya aikya. These three things, the guru vakya, the Vaisnava vakya and the sastra, with the help of these three we have to come to a solution, try to come to a solution. sadhu sastra guru vakya cittete koriya aikya, ar na koriho mane asa . . .
I dont think that this is mine, this is my gurus. It comes from gurudeva and you are all his vaibhava. This is also service, service for the whole, the mission. It is a favor to me, given by my gurudeva . . . Try to acquire the position of a Vaisnava. Vaisnava dasa. So, we create this varnasrama, this sannyasa. The fourth order is sannyasi. The sannyasis are servants of the Vaisnavas. They take the lower position, sannyasi preachers, and they should preach to greatness, the nobleness of the paramahamsa Vaisnavas. And what is the object of our preaching? We have to fight with the Mayavadis. Mayavada is the mother of all pseudo conceptions of religion. Mayavada is the foundation and the basis, the mother polluting all this line of thought. And Ramanuja, Madhvacarya, Nimbarka are one in the fight against Mayavada. We also must combine together as Maharaja Yudhisthira had the Pandavas join with Duryodhana to fight Citraratha and the Gandharvas . . . So, for common enemies, Ramanuja and others united. We are common in fighting with Mayavada. And then we may fight one another to adjust our position as Gaudiya Vaisnava. Mahaprabhu gave acintya-bhedabheda. This one is advaitavada, another suddhadvaitavada and we differ here. And then for differences we shall fight with one another. But in Mayavada we are one to fight. We are weeping, we cannot allow it . . .
This is the wonderful characteristic of Krsna bhakti, that externally there is so much burning sensation, but within we are breathing in nectar, taking bath in a tank of nectar. It is the quality that it is so good, that when we get a little we think, "I want more, give me more, give me more." So this is very fortunate, union in separation. Without hunger, any quality of food wont taste good. So, real hunger, that I may get real hunger for the infinite. The infinite is coming in the finite. That sort of hunger should be created there that he can accommodate the infinite in him, being a finite being. The hankering is creating a vision, the will to go there. As much as you can get His touch, the slightest touch you can relish it so much. In the discourse of Ramananda Raya and Mahaprabhu there is so much hunger. As much hunger as there is, so much is the satisfaction by preaching. So, the hunger, the degree of hunger is the cause, necessary cause. So, fill the heart with satisfaction, happiness, anandam. The negative and the positive. The negative in that stage is present is Sri Radhika. To attract Krsna, rasa, the devourer, first place devourer. The highest devourer of that rasa, Radharani. And all is joining the rasa of Krsna . . .
Pradyumna: A question is, that usually in any organization, like maybe this Matha, Gaudiya Sanga, or Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti, whoever is acarya, he is like a pope, he is all-powerful. His word, he is the ultimate spiritual authority.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: Not all-powerful. Madhava Maharaja is also under governing body. This [inaudible] Maharaja is also under governing body. This Audolomi is also under governing body. When the founder acarya expired, then the governing body was formed, and really the governing body is ruling the mission. But when there are many acaryas under one governing body, there will be some trouble raised there . . .
If you can construct different zones with one acarya, then their position will be like that. But you have one governing body to govern different zones, and this position of acarya is minor. There are many. Now the difference between the governing body and the acarya is there, but in near future there will be differences between the acaryas.
Pradyumna: Yes, I think that also. That is why I am not satisfied, there is some difference between us and them, also in the future between them, I think.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: Gradually the acarya will quarrel with one another . . . I was thinking, that just as in India, there should be three phases of government. One, the Vaisnava sabha, another the eligibility government and another the court of justice.
Pradyumna: In America also they have thisthe executive, the judicial and the legislative.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: They are independent.
Always respecting the GBC as the "ultimate managing authority for the entire International Society for Krsna Consciousness," Srila Sridhara Maharaja, as a third party, has most often expertly pleaded the position of the GBC, much to the surprise of the challenging party. Regrettably by the 80s the majority of Srila Prabhupadas disciples were already losing faith in the GBC. Srila Sridhara Maharajas advice was intended to rectify this situation. After repeatedly ignoring all advice and godbrother complaints for years on end, the GBC stated in their 1981 resolutions that
"we agree in principle that we must extend the number of gurus but do not feel the inspiration at this time."
Srila Sridhara Maharaja clearly understood that this was an improper decision and said so without hesitation.
"Let us hope that their decision may help Iskcon, by the will of Krsna it may not bring any disaster to the organization. Let us hope and pray.
Last time also I asked them what they wanted me to doshould I give ditto to whatever they will do. Then I asked them, "do you think that I am under your committee." "No, no, that we dont think." Then the day before yesterday, again the same thing. "We had a meeting and in our meeting we accepted the principle that the number of acaryas may be increased. But we did not receive any inspiration this year for extension. But this was not told to you, so we have been told that you remarked that our decision is injudicious and unfortunate." Yes, I did remark in such a way because I want to clear my position to you now that, I am not wholly one with Iskcon and even not wholly one with Swami Maharaja. I have got my special consideration and inclination and thinking. With other godbrothers also I differ in many ways. So everyone has his special characteristic and I also have such. So, what you think to be srota-pantha, your meeting unanimous verdict, what you think the right thing coming down, I am not bound to pronounce the same thingthat it is infallible. The meaning is like that. According to my consideration your combined decision was a faulty one, but I did not say so clearly.
Nor can one be expected to blindly agree with the wisdom of the 1982 decisions. This does not necessarily imply a loss of faith in Srila Prabhupada or his orders, nor even a loss of faith in the Governing Body. It merely echoes what was felt by so many devotees for so many years that the GBC had serious problems that needed to be dealt with. To not agree with the resolutions1981 non-extension and 1982 severance of Srila Sridhara Maharaja and those taking his siksa, which in retrospect were indeed disastrous, does not mean that one is anti-GBC or anti-Iskcon. Rather it pains the heart of any genuine follower of Srila Prabhupada to see such calamitous activities in his society. And we must not forget that Srila Prabhupada himself rejected many many GBC resolutions when he felt that they were not up to the standard. He even rejected the entire GBC itself on two occasions, as documented earlier in this chapter.
Accusation 7: Against Prabhupada
"Although Sridhara Maharajas followers claim that Srila Prabhupada is speaking through him, Sridhara Maharaja is actually speaking against Srila Prabhupada."
In a conversation between Srila Sridhara Maharaja and an Iskcon GBC guru concerning the relationship of the new Iskcon gurus and their godbrothers, on March 5, 1981, the Iskcon guru remarked at the end of their conversation,
"I take it that Prabhupada is speaking to us through you."
Additionally, Tamala Krsna Maharaja stated on February 26, 1981:
I find no difference at all [from Srila Prabhupada] in how you are blessing us.
Numerous other statements by Iskcons stalwarts have been presented throughout this presentation. So it is the Iskcon leaders themselves who are making such statements. Earlier in this chapter under the section entitled Madhurya Rasa we have presented Satsvarupa Maharajas taped appreciation of the expert guidance of Srila Sridhara Maharaja in troubled times. This tape was distributed at the time to all Iskcon temples in the Mid-Atlantic and New England zones in America.
We have also presented Giriraja Maharajas letter of 16th September 1978 wherein he states that Srila Prabhupada told us we should consult Srila Sridhara Maharaja and that other than himself Srila Sridhara Maharaja was the only one qualified to write Srimad Bhagavatam purports.
In chapter five, in the section entitled Our Swami Maharaja Has Done a Miracle, we have documented the many statements of Srila Sridhara Maharaja demonstrating beyond a shadow of a doubt his absolute respect and utmost appreciation of Srila Prabhupada.
In chapter four we have presented numerous examples of Srila Sridhara Maharajas preaching on behalf of Srila Prabhupada and Iskcon. Repeatedly we see Srila Sridhara Maharaja tirelessly giving expert advice in troubled times. A detailed study of this advice as we have presented throughout this book overwhelmingly shows Srila Sridhara Maharajas advice as consummately perfect and conducive to the well-being of Iskcon.
Additionally, the remark by Srila Sridhara Maharaja, "Swami Maharaja (Srila Prabhupada) and I are not one," should be seen in the light of sastra. For example,
"If one is following the instruction of his spiritual master and that instruction is different from the instructions of another spiritual master, this is called detailed information. But the basic principle of acceptance of a spiritual master is good everywhere, although the details may be different." (Nectar of Devotion, Ch. 6)
Similarly Srila Prabhupada writes in Caitanya-caritamrta Adi-lila 7.37:
"Every acarya has a specific means of propagating his spiritual movement with the aim of bringing men to Krsna consciousness. Therefore, the method of one acarya may be different from that of another, but the ultimate goal is never neglected."
Srila Prabhupada wrote to Upendra on 19 February 1972 that,
"there is no reason why acaryas cannot differ on certain points."
In other words, Srila Sridhara Maharaja or any bona-fide Vaisnava does not have to be a stereotyped carbon-copy of Srila Prabhupada in order to be eligible to uphold the dignity and purity of the Gaudiya Vaisnava Sampradaya. While details and individual devotional moods may vary, the substance of Srila Prabhupadas instructions and those of Srila Sridhara Maharaja are very similar, as we have demonstrated in chapter five in the long section entitled Doubts. No one is saying that Srila Sridhara Maharaja replaces Srila Prabhupada, rather that his instructions embellish those of Srila Prabhupada and that the elucidation of many points of siddhanta by Srila Sridhara Maharaja has been a wonderful addition to so many devotees precarious spiritual lives. Innumerable devotees adamantly credit a revival of devotional fervor to the nectarean krsna-katha of Srila Sridhara Maharaja.
Accusation 8: Sridhara Maharaja Not Advanced
"Sridhara Maharaja is not more advanced than many senior Iskcon devotees. Firstly, in dedication to Srila Prabhupada and his order, Sridhara Maharaja is not more advanced than many devotees in Iskcon."
Since Srila Sridhara Maharaja is Srila Prabhupadas senior godbrother, his param sannyasa guru, it is natural that Srila Prabhupada never expected him to follow any order of his. Nonetheless, we do find that Srila Sridhara Maharaja is dedicated to assisting Srila Prabhupada, as revealed by the following quote:
Swami Maharaja himself requested me, not only once but several times, that you are to look after them. I did not think at that time that I shall survive him, so I did not give much attention to his words then, but repeatedly he told me that you are to look after those that I have brought to this side (Krsna consciousness). This I heard. And his plan was also that I shall live there in Mayapur, construct one quarter there and I have asked that another quarter just side by side for yourself, and you will have to stay there and I shall go abroad . . . you will have to take care. I told him it is not possible always, but sometimes I shall go there and stay there with you. (1977 Room Conversation)
Again, numerous quotes given throughout this publication substantiate Srila Sridhara Maharajas genuine concern and perfect sastric advice time and time again. Giriraja Maharajas quote from the Caitanya-Caritamrta in his 1978 letter to the GBC warns us of just the sort of mentality expressed in this accusation(see next section).
Accusation 9: Sridhara Maharaja Not Empowered
"Secondly, in the matter of spreading Krsna consciousness around the world, he is not more advanced than those empowered directly by Srila Prabhupada to do this and who are carrying it out factually."
We find this accusation offensive as it is not an appropriate comparison. Srila Prabhupada is on record as stating that he considers Srila Sridhara Maharaja as his siksa guru (Ltr Hrsikesa ~ 69-01-29) and that "what Sridhara Maharaja says, I take it on my head." (Ltr Govinda Mj ~ 69-01-29). Additionally, we find the only recorded instances of Srila Prabhupada being corrected by another Vaisnava in the June 27, 1973 room conversation between Srila Prabhupada and Srila Sridhara Maharaja in Navadvipa.
Prabhupada: Both sides [of Viraja] hes a devotee [Lord Siva].
Sridhara Maharaja: This side, hes not such a devotee. But that is pure devotee on the other side, Vaikuntha.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja is the param sannyasa guru of Srila Prabhupada and a senior godbrother of his. Srila Prabhupada said that Srila Sridhara Maharaja was the only one outside of himself qualified to translate the Srimad Bhagavatam and give commentary. In commenting upon statements such as the accusation above:
"Now we have surpassed Sridhara Swami and we are in a position where we can improve upon Sridhara Swamis conception."
Giriraja Maharaja in his 16 September 1978 letter to the GBC stated:
"I am simply reminded of the words of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, swami na mane yei jana vesyara bhitare, tare kariye ganana, that now we must remain faithful to our swami." [otherwise we will be prostitutes] (Cc. Antya-lila 7.115)
This reference by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to the Bhagavatam commentator Sridhara Swami has been aptly applied to B. R. Sridhara Swami by Giriraja Maharaja. This minimization of Srila Sridhara Maharaja amounts to maryada-vyatikrama:
"Although one may be well versed in the transcendental science, one should be careful about the offense of maryada-vyatikrama, or impertinently surpassing a greater personality . . . The rule is that in the presence of a higher personality one should not be very eager to impart instructions, even if one is competent and well versed . . . The Lord never tolerates the impertinence of maryada-vyatikrama. [Bhag. 3.4.26, purp.]
Srila Sridhara Maharaja had more than one thousand disciples at the time of his passing in comparison to Srila Prabhupadas more than three thousand and his widespread preaching and substantial devotional accomplishments have been documented in chapters one and three. Srila Sridhara Maharajas penetrating devotional realizations presented in his Brahma Gayatri Commentary are unparalleled in the entire history of our sampradaya. That Srila Sridhara Maharaja was himself also capable of giving a unique contribution in no way diminishes the position of Srila Prabhupada. And just this type of comparison as given in this accusation is condemned as offensive by Srila Prabhupada himself,
"One should not be envious, considering one preacher to be very great and another to be very lowly. This is a material distinction and has no place on the platform of spiritual activities. Krsnadasa Kaviraja Goswami therefore offers equal respect to all the preachers of the cult of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, who are compared to the branches of the tree. Iskcon is one of these branches." (Caitanya-caritamrta Adi-lila 10.7, purport)
Accusation 10: Iskcon the Best
"Thirdly, the community of Iskcon devotees is more advanced in carrying out the central desire of our founder-acarya, to keep our movement from being split. Sridhara Maharaja may consider it a good principle to divide and have small movements, but this was neither the desire of Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati or Srila Prabhupada."
On no less than three occasions Srila Sridhara Maharaja assisted Iskcon in averting the calamity of splitting, involving the difficulties faced by three initiating gurus. Finally, the GBC by their 1982 resolution, disconnected themselves from their previous cordial relationship with Srila Sridhara Maharaja. This disconnection was actually the cause of Iskcons splitting into two camps. Out of dire necessity, because of this resolution, those who remained loyal to Srila Sridhara Maharaja formed separate institutions. It should also be pointed out that, as previously described, Srila Sridhara Maharaja does not have a history of instigating factions, as was being propagated. In fact he was appreciated by all the various members of the Gaudiya Matha as a principle unifying force. Many quotes substantiating this are given in the first three chapters of this book. Srila Sridhara Maharaja was held in such high esteem by his godbrothers that when he left the Gaudiya Matha amidst its turmoil many many stalwarts such as Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Maharaja, Bhakti Saranga Goswami Maharaja and Madhava Maharaja, to name a few, followed him. Srila Sridhara Maharaja never quarreled over the disputed properties and buildings of the Gaudiya Matha, and in fact to avoid such quarreling he left.
We refer the reader to the numerous examples previously quoted in chapter four, relating Srila Sridhara Maharajas help both to Srila Prabhupada and Iskcon.