Our Affectionate Guardians:Chapter Six: Aparadha

Guru Deviation ~ Symptoms ~ Kanak, Kamini & Pratistha

On October 7, 1981 Srila Sridhara Maharaja spoke on guru deviations:

Generally the signs of deviation may be of three types. The first thing is whether or not I can detect that my gurudeva is losing gradually his attraction for his own guru. And sastra upadesa,  his previous way of expressing his advice by quoting the scriptures and quoting the words of his own guru, that is becoming gradually absent in him. His attraction is fading for the higher. Then that is pratistha. Kanak, kamini, pratistha. These are the three tests to be put everywhere for whether one is a sadhu or not, or what degree of sadhu he is. The measurement will be pratistha, kanak, kamini  -- three gross. The first is the deviation of his higher gurus. That should be detected. That is pratistha.  Then more tendency to amass money and not to spend, money may be collected but that must be distributed for the service of the sampradaya, vaisnava;  but amassing money, second. And the third is attraction towards the ladies. Of course he may come in connection with money and women and also with pratistha. Pratistha  means the honor to him from the disciples. That is also necessary but only for the purpose of divine object, divine aim. Not for himself. But if we can detect that for his personal interest and not for the cause of the sampradaya he is utilizing these things then we should be careful. In the beginning we may neglect some occasions, some instances we may ignore. But if we find that more, then we are to inspect that carefully. And we should mention it to persons similar to our own position. After consultation we can put it to higher sources -- other acaryas also -- who are reliable. So we must not make progress in a slumber. But we must go forward with our eyes open, always opened.


11 January 1982:

Yesterday, perhaps for the first time I heard, I can't trust it even, that [name~GBC guru] trampled down his foot on a book named the Gaudiya Kanthahara, the very gist of all the Vaishnava scriptures prepared by our guru maharaja. Gaudiya Kanthahara. How? "We are only to go through the books given to us by our Swami Maharaja, our Prabhupada." I can't trust [believe] that such heinous work is being done by him. I can't believe that that scripture containing the very gist of Bhagavatam, Gita, and all other Vaishnava scriptures, including the Goswamis, that is the most useful weapon of the preachers, the sannyasis. It was prepared for that line. And that has been trampled under foot. I can't conceive-so much so I would be happy if I hear that "No, no, this is false information." I'll be happy. Because I thought him to be a very simple candid person trying his utmost to follow the line of Mahaprabhu. We may have to be converted into stone if we are to hear these things from the acaryas of Swami Maharaja, appointed by direct appointment. I shudder to think. It may be false. I would like to hear that it is false.

And that must have committed a great offense. A heinous offense. And I advised him, it may be intimated to him that he should publish that Gaudiya Kanthahara in a very beautiful way, and with repentance, and with all regard. Otherwise, he will have to mourn to reap the result of such heinous actions, wherever he be. It is not a matter to talk even in such a way. It is nama-aparadha. First nama-aparadha, the vaishnava-aparadha, and the second, then sastra. The sastra, that is giving the devotional process to us. If we dishonor that, then the Name will be dissatisfied. Sadhu-ninda, and sastra-ninda. The sastra-ninda, to talk against sastra, that is maya, and what he has done, that is demoniac, a heinous thing. And he must beg to propitiate the sastra, and he should publish that particular sastra in a very honorable way and distribute that to others. Then he may escape from that sort of offense. Any friend of him may say to him in my name. It is not a trifling thing. If Krsna is concrete reality, then sastra is also so. The rule of Krsna, that is not to be belittled. It is so serious. It is as real as Krsna. We shudder to hear such things. He must do some service to that very sastra, Gaudiya Kanthahara. It is a very favorite book of our Guru Maharaja. We have seen it. He collected the slokas as equipment -- a storehouse of weapons for all the preachers. So, for the preachers, so many vital quotations to support the Krsna consciousness, and that has been dealt with in such a wrong insulting way. If ever I have heard it, my heart is aching to think of that offense. If I did not inform him, I would be under offense myself.

Gaudiya Math GBC

Srila Sridhara Maharaja was portrayed as being against the formation of a GBC in the Gaudiya Math (i.e. 1974 Rupanuga letter) and that now he was trying to ruin ISKCON. A cronology of events in this regard is given in chapter three: A Short History of Srila Sridhara Maharaja & The Gaudiya Math, which provides a higher perspective on this theory -- wherein it is revealed that not only was a GBC formed by the trustees of the Gaudiya Math, membership of which was declined by Srila Sridhara Maharaja, but Srila Sridhara Maharaja helped advise the GBC when requested to. Further he repeatedly helped negotiate between his godbrothers when asked. "None can approach Vasudeva Prabhu, they are very much afraid of his personality. Only Sridhara Maharaja can do. Though he is his greatest enemy, still he has got some affection for him." Vasudeva Prabhu admitted that although Srila Sridhara Maharaja was his "enemy" still he could trust him and wished to meet with him. It was further revealed that even those who were opposed to him, said that his specialty is that of strong common sense and disinterested nature-not partial, not selfish-always open to truth-out of generousity and kindness. In chapter three Srila Sridhara Maharaja relates how in spite of all opposition he was able to bring together the two opposing parties of the Gaudiya Math and reach a compromise. His preaching capacity is wonderfully illustrated therein.

It was revealed in August of 1981 that the GBC fears Srila Sridhara Maharaja's popularity. Looking back now, we can see clearly why they fear his popularity. He is giving such high and perfect Krsna conscious advice at the same time that the GBC gurus are engaged in all sorts of improper activities-many of which can be considered deviation from the line of our sampradaya. We have seen over the years that the GBC cannot tolerate any mention of reform, any constructive criticism even, and especially proper sastric advice which they are fearful will expose their wrongdoings. History has shown their ongoing faults continuing to this day, and this is well known by all the disciples of Srila Prabhupada and many others as well. Substantial documentation also exists for this as well. Additionally they fear Srila Sridhara Maharaja's popularity, earned by his substantially potent preaching. "Many devotees are discontent with the activities of the acaryas and GBC. So, by hearing your (Srila Sridhara Maharaja's) instructions they became more satisfied and wanted to give these leaders the benefit of the doubt. But then the leaders began to speak against you."

Srila Sridhara Maharaja responds to this:
Srila Sridhara Maharaja: I am not going anywhere, to do anything against them. I am sitting here. People are coming, and according to my conscience, what I have to say to them I am saying. I am not an aggressor.

Sudhira Maharaja: This has disturbed many of the devotees who are appreciating your instructions.

Srila Sridhara Maharaja: Is it going against Swami Maharaja what I say?

Sudhira Maharaja: Not according to them. There is a difference of opinion.

Srila Sridhara Maharaja: But, what I said was taped by you all. Was there anything which went against the preaching of Swami Maharaja? I don't think that is the case.

Sudhira Maharaja: No one thinks like that.

Bhakti Caru Maharaja: But it is going against them. Actually many of the godbrothers started to see things from a different perspective.

Srila Sridhara Maharaja: Last time also I told them that what they wanted me to do -- I should give ditto to whatever they will do,. Then I asked them, "do you think that I am under your committee." "No, no, that we don't 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 wholely one with ISKCON and even not wholely 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 thing-that 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.

Relief Work

On January 12, 1982, Srila Sridhara Maharaja responded to devotees that he would be responsible to Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu if he didn't help the disenfranchised, the disillusioned, the disheartened, who are going away from Krsna consciousness. He stated that he has no aspiration, that he is only responding to those who approach him. How can he refuse those in need of help?

Three disenfranchised ISKCON devotees had left ISKCON to hear from Srila Sridhara Maharaja. After hearing from Srila Sridhara Maharaja for some time they were given sannyasa -- a natural spiritual progression in their ongoing intimate relationship. This was taken by the ISKCON leaders as an intolerable attack -- that he was stealing their men. Srila Sridhara Maharaja's sweet and substantal answer to a devotee disturbed by these initiations is presented in Appendix G: Conversation on January 31, 1982.

The GBC found fault with those godbrothers who sought help from Srila Sridhara Maharaja in the same way that they themselves sought help from Srila Sridhara Maharaja in the beginning (1978-80). They also found fault with Srila Sridhara Maharaja for giving advice in regards to the many problems in ISKCON at the same time that the GBC was not properly dealing with these problems, nor were they able or willing to give proper sastric advice or encouragement to the disenfranchised. On the contrary we see that anyone who wasn't 100% their sold out man was made to feel left out of the mainstream of ISKCON. Those who sincerely wanted answers to the many problems were consistently treated as troublemakers. Mostly the disciples of Srila Prabhupada were frustrated that they had no voice, and that the GBC was maintaining tight control of ISKCON, refusing to expand the number of gurus, etc. Finally in March of 1982, the GBC reluctantly added three new gurus (Svarupa Damodara Maharaja, Gopal Krsna Maharaja & Panca Dravida Maharaja) who immediately came to Srila Sridhara Maharaja in search of his blessings. Not until the meeting with godbrothers in 1985 did the GBC decide to add more gurus beyond these three.

March 1981
Dheera Krsna: Maharaja: I am accused of being a trouble maker. When I am mixing with my godbrothers the GBC feel that I create disturbance.

Srila Sridhara Maharaja: They are afraid of you.

Dheera Krsna Maharaja: I am against the policies of the GBC. So, I thought maybe for a short time I should remain here.

Srila Sridhara Maharaja: For the time being you may stay here as you like. But what I understand in you is that you should visit those that are dejected, disappointed and have relief work with them to rescue them. To organize them, they should not leave the movement of Swami Maharaja, or Mahaprabhu, or our Guru Maharaja. This divine movement may not be loved. To keep up the standard. My words may be used to enliven them and to keep them within the fold. Maybe here and there; and the leading persons like Yasodanandana and others such as Pradyumna, who were some stalwarts amongst Swami Maharaja, they are going away, they are going away hither and tither like a ship without a rudder being scattered in different directions. To connect with them, to encourage them in their service to guru-Gauranga, Swami Maharaja, our Guru Maharaja, Bhaktivinode Thakura. And come now and then here and take the necessary directions and similarly theoretical and practical, both sides. To collect some things and to distribute to the patients.

You Are Forcefully Engaging Me

So I am a peace-loving man. Don't try to drag me onto the battlefield. I am of a ministerial habit. Rather a minister than a king That was told to me by Madhava Maharaja, that you can give us good advice but you cannot work as a king. My godbrother Madhava Maharaja told me. You have got foresight. You can give good advice. But you cannot take up anything at your hands direct and go on with the program. The followers of Swami Maharaja who have affection for me, you will combine yourself and do whatever you think good. I am ready to help you theoretically.

Devotee: To us the most important thing is to get the association of your lotus feet.

Srila Sridhara Maharaja: If you think so, you may extort from me. Just as Das Goswami says, "I was blind, I was unwilling but Sanatana Goswami was so kind with me that he tried his utmost and forced me to drink the nectar -- vairagya-yug-bhakti-rasam prayatnair (Vilap. Kusam 6). Not only blind, but also unwilling and I was forced to take the medicine. So I am unwilling. And you come and force, exact from me if you find anything good. What is very akin to your masters gift. If you find that what you have already received from your spiritual master, a similar thing is to be found here, then of course you may come and try to snatch it and distribute it to the world. You have got that right.

Devotee: We are situated in Das Goswami's position and you are situated in Sanatana Goswami's position. You are forcing us to relish the nectar.

Srila Sridhara Maharaja: But you are active, I am passive here. I am reluctant. and you are coming to me.

Jayapatakha Swami Requests Sridhara Maharaja's Help

Jayatirtha Maharaja, a GBC guru, had fallen from the principles of Krsna consciousness, and had been forced by the GBC to take sannyasa against his will. We were present in Los Angeles during the GBC's meeting there when they voted that Jayatirtha Prabhu must take sannyasa -- very much against his will. Later he was found to have again deviated and fallen. Srila Sridhara Maharaja had advised that Jayatirtha should be dealt with delicately, as he had had many problems and continued to have problems. On August 9, 1981 Srila Sridhara Maharaja asked about the feelings of Jayatirtha Maharaja's disciples, whether or not they were favorably disposed and maintaining their faith in their guru. He also asked about the mood of Jayatirtha's godbrothers towards him.

Srila Sridhara Maharaja: Godbrothers are disturbed? Are they of the opinion that once one has left the sannyasa asrama, then he should not be regarded as formerly. Is this their mentality?"

Sudhira Maharaja: Yes. One point that I heard them say is that they did not want to hear that this is some kind of lila. And generally when such a thing occurs there comes doubt about turning over newcomers to such a person.

Srila Sridhara Maharaja: Accepting sannyasa, and leaving that and then accepting it -- that's making trouble. Of course there is such example amongst our previous godbrothers during the time of Prabhupada. Sannyasa was taken up, off, and again sannyasa was given to him by Prabhupada. After the departure of Prabhupada he got recognition in the society and was accepted as an acarya by other devotees of Prabhupada. Sannyasa has got a formal value. But the Vaishnava is seen according to the degree of devotion, not in accordance with the dress; the garment is external.

Sudhira Maharaja: They want to reinstate him in his former position. They want to give the benefit of the doubt. And they have made some objection to his attributing some credit to yourself.

Srila Sridhara Maharaja: That sort of weakness is also on the part of ISKCON because they wrote a letter to me to interfere with this case. A long letter by the instruction of Bhavananda Maharaja and written by Jayapataka Maharaja requesting me to advise and help in this matter and I did so. Fortunately I could convince him. So, I replied to the letter of Jayapataka Maharaja that, I tried my best according to my best understanding to reinstate him in his former position and now it is your duty to adjust him with your institution. Something like that. And they also came, Bhavananda and Jayapataka and Bhakti Caru Swami -- you might have heard.

Sudhira Maharaja: They are afraid that by devotees hearing of Your Divine Grace's wonderful activities and your preaching that many people will be attracted to you. So this has created a fear in them.

Srila Sridhar Maharaja spoke further on August 30, 1981:

"Jayapataka Maharaja wrote a long letter to me, stating that such and such things have happened. He wrote that he had consulted with Bhavananda Maharaja who told him to consult with me. He asked me for my opinion about all the things that have happened in regards to Jayatirtha. I told him that I don't want to say anything before meeting Jayatirtha Maharaja. I want to know what happened. And I had some doubts. They told that Jayatirtha wanted sannyasa. Ultimately, we have not forced. Reluctantly we gave sannyasa. Still I told him that I would like to hear from him [Jayatirtha] first before making any remark. Then Bhakti Caru Swami brought Jayatirtha Maharaja here from Puri, leaving his wife and son in Calcutta, but I also wanted his wife and son to be here. Then they were also brought here and I consulted with them all. I had had some apprehension that Swami Maharaja had delegated him for acarya position as a grhasta. So, he might have thought that ISKCON, the present managing committee has thrust sannyasa upon him and in some uncareful moment he has accepted that. Then that should not be continued. What Swami Maharaja has given, my gurudeva, I must stick to that. I inquired and found his son thinking like that. So, I told him anyhow, once you have taken up this role of sannyasa and so many acaryas are mostly sannyasis, and any way, once you have accepted sasnnyasa you should not go back formally. To go back, that won't look well. So I gave my opinion, that once accepted, you must retain that. Otherwise it will give a bad name to ISKCON, that is, to your guru-maharaja Prabhupada. Then he agreed. I also had to convince his former wife. She is a good lady. She also told in the tapes what happened. And I asked her, 'Did you come [to Krsna consciousness] before your marriage?' Yes. You came to get the grace of Lord Krsna? Yes, then you are to sacrifice for Swami Maharaja, you are to sacrifice your best beloved object for the cause of Krsna consciousness, I think. And Krsna will look after you. You sacrifice, give him up for fighting. He is a general. One of the big generals, fighters in Krsna consciousness. I heard that he has a good name in his propogation. It must not be taken back. In the beginning of course she wept, shed tears. But anyhow, she got encouragement through my words and advice. The boy also said yes-I also encouraged him and the mother. Finally they accepted my advice. Then I asked that Jayatirtha send a letter to his previous sannyasa guru Kirtananda Maharaja stating that he has again taken up the sannyasa order given by him. Then I sent him to Katwa where Mahaprabhu took sannyasa. I sent him with Bhakti Caru Swami and Govinda Maharaja. After taking bath in the Ganges, he again took his former sannyasa dress at the place where Mahaprabhu took his sannyasa."

The GBC however could not tolerate this; especially they could not tolerate Jayatirtha Maharaja's lavish praise of Srila Sridhara Maharaja for uplifting him. Although they had personally requested just this thing themselves, they became extremely irritated at this point and objectively speaking their activities became irrational.

Following this, we see the GBC at its passionate worst. They decided that Jayatirtha Maharaja must "banish Sridhara Maharaja from his heart 100% or leave ISKCON." Jayatirtha was ready to compromise to the farthest extreme but the GBC would not even allow him his private thoughts. Jayatirtha Maharaja made the decision, that considering that he had come up from a very fallen condition and revived his spiritual position as a sannyasi by the sweet and potent preaching of Srila Sridhara Maharaja and considering that he had developed a genuine love and attachment in his heart, that he could not renounce his spiritual connection to reality. Instead, he renounced his very large share of ISKCON to stay with Srila Sridhara Maharaja, who remarked that the ideal represented by Jayatirtha Maharaja's surrender was very noble. At that time, the leaders captured three hundred odd of his disciples in a room and haranged them for hours, revealing his past deviations etc., deviations which they had themselves previously had kept hidden, "convincing" the disciples to give up their guru -- he had abandoned ISKCON, was falled, deviated. The disciples were then told that they had barely a few days to either be reinitiated immediately by one of the other ten gurus or else leave ISKCON. Srila Sridhara Maharaja remarked that they did not understand the principle of the guru-disciple relationship or they would not have so rudely, abruptly and forcefully severed these connections. Further he stated that their absolute power is a bad sign, that they did not show any signs of humility.

The activities and mentality of the GBC in this regard are somewhat unknown to the majority of devotees and further unknown are the feelings expressed by Srila Sridhara Maharaja and his followers,. We have presented four transcripts from March 5, 1982 and March 6, 1982 in Appendix H. These transcripts give us a pulse-beat of the activities transpiring at this time: The GBC forced Jayatirtha Maharaja to renounce any connection with Srila Sridhara Maharaja one hundred percent or leave ISKCON, they legislated that anyone associating with Srila Sridhara Maharaja is severed from ISKCON and any initiation by Srila Sridhara Maharaja must be given up if one wants to be part of ISKCON. All of this follows years of GBC siksa with Srila Sridhara Maharaja and the GBC's continued urgent personal requests to Srila Sridhara Maharaja to encourage, help and reinstate Jayatirtha Maharaja. That Jayatirtha subsequently again deviated does not detract from the truth of the above events. Srila Prabhupada was always ready to encourage his disciples. And encourage, Srila Sridhara Maharaja did time and time again.

Srila Sridhara Maharaja Severed

Srila Sridhara Maharaja replied very kindly to ISKCON's disconnection (11 January 1982):

Devotee: Martial law. Dictatorship, just like in Poland.

Srila Sridhara Maharaja: No, not martial. They are not happy to do that. But on policy they are to do this for the time being, they are to test what effect it may have. They have some affection for me. But still, to save their institution from the present crisis, what they think like that, the present crisis, temporarily they are giving trial to this particular injunction.

Devotee: Temporary injunction.

Srila Sridhara Maharaja: I think like that. I think like that.

Devotee: You are very gracious.

Srila Sridhara Maharaja: They cannot forget me totally. The newcomers may think like that, but the older devotees that have seen me along with Swami Maharaja, there, it will be difficult for them to put such a rigid law between the two, for those older men have seen how intimately Swami Maharaja dealt with me. It will be very difficult for them, but still they have a policy to make a check.

Invited by Affections Force & Driven Out

At this time, March 5, 1982, Srila Sridhara Maharaja commented,

Swami Maharaja very earnestly invited me with affection and you are driving me out. Swami Maharaja had much affection for me, all throughout his whole life. He abused many of my godbrothers, but with the exception of me alone. And he asked me several times, that you are to look after them." "I was forcibly almost, by affection's force taken into the connection of ISKCON, and now, I am being driven out of ISKCON." "I give my good will, but I can't simply ditto their mandates." "I am invited by your Prabhupada in his last days and in my last days I am motivated by some mean interest?" "I differed from the GBC's opinion and they withdrew. Still I am their aloof well-wisher." "They are thousands of men on that side, and you are few: five, six or ten, twenty-five. And they are so much afraid of you? They have the spirit of conquering. No attitude of give and take learning. That, 'we may have to learn something yet.' They have finished their learning, and they are ready only to distribute their own hoarded wealth. Hare Krsna. Alright, He is there. ISKCON does not belong to their committee, but ISKCON ultimately belongs to Swami Maharaja, represents Swami Maharaja, in my opinion." "I see that they are digging their own grave. This is my sincere feeling, but this hurts, and it is objectionable to a certain extent. If they are ISKCON properly, they are promised to a particular ideal. So, deviation from that ideal, that is but a shadow of ISKCON, which was created and designed by Swami Maharaja. It is a very lamentable thing." "Those who are sincere, the victory will be with them: na hi kalyana krd kascid, durgatim tata gacchati. (Bg. 6.40) Kalyana means sincere to their purpose, not power-seeker; coercive nature, for the administration. Hare Krsna." "That will be an atomic bomb to their own disciples. This effect of changing the faith in their guru, of the acarya, will have reaction in the whole of ISKCON, and will shake the very foundation."

I Am Very Much Mortified

"Is it a play? What Swami Maharaja began there, is it a play? The acarya and the disciple, their relation; is it a fun? So lightly to be taken? What reaction will come on the other disciples? They can connect and disconnect in any way? And the charge was made by [ name of GBC guru ] to me, in the case of a single person. And there was such a great difference. And they are doing in a wholesale way, wholesale dealing. It is horrible to think of the future of ISKCON. I am going to faint to think of the future of ISKCON. Let the divine will guide us properly in our ways."

"I am am old man, I am tired, excited, I am very very sorry, (crying) really I say with folded palms that you are ill-treating me. I am very sorry. Swami Maharaja was so affectionate, I also treated with such affection to him. And rudely you are behaving towards me. I am very much mortified for that, but what can I do? I am a small man . . . "

Form Breaker

Srila Sridhara Maharaja, mortified by their mistreatment of devotees and their many-fold abuses of himself, understanding their deviation from the spirit of Srila Prabhupada's ISKCON stated further that he wanted to break their misconceptions, that he more liked the spirit than the form -- that the underlying purpose of the society [which was not being upheld] was more important than the formal structure [which was there to serve this purpose]. Therefore he thought that the deviated form should be broken -- proper adjustments made. This statement that he was "a form-breaker" rather than a "form-maker" was distorted to imply that Srila Sridhara Maharaja simply wanted to destroy ISKCON. In actuality, he wanted to destroy the leader's deviations -- those deviations which are so well known to all of the older devotees-which were intolerable to so many devotees for so many many years. That this is true, is obvious when one studies the many transcripts of Sridhara Maharaja.

"I told them that I am a form breaker--sarva dharman parityaja mam ekam saranam vraja., deviations which they had themselves previously kept hidden, The dharma -- we should regard the form. But what form. You have left the form of the Christain mission. You have somehow left that to come to Swami Maharaja. Why? The material substance is not of real importance. Our importance is to the substance and the form is secondary. Perhaps the reality of this formality we shall try to preserve, but the substance is all imortant. Form is only important according to the substance it is carrying, according to that."

On May 15, 1982 Srila Sridhara Maharaja said, "the GBC is necessary but not whimsical dictations and narrow views." In this regard, Srila Prabhupada stated, "Anyone who has got some power, he must know that 'this power is given by Krsna unto me, and to execute His will, not my sense gratification.' Otherwise it will be a burden, and he will be finished." [ 720618SB.LA ]

Earlier, on January 11, 1982, Srila Sridhara Maharaja had said, "Organization is good of course if it is prepared to render service cent percent to the real principle. That we should remember. Otherwise it is a burden."

Acyutananda dasa, one of the first disciples of Srila Prabhupada, in a letter to the Gaudiya in 1994 wrote, "Regarding sects-I was present (at 26 2nd Ave.) when Srila Prabhupada received the documents that certified ISKCON as a registered, tax-exempt society. 'We are not attached to any organization,' he said. 'It is an instrument we will use and if it becomes troublesome we will dissolve it and go on chanting Hare Krsna.'"

ISKCON: Kanistha Society

Earlier, in chapter five we presented excerpts from Ravindra Svarupa's paper entitled, Ending the Fratricidal War, wherein he substantiates that ISKCON is a kanistha-adhikari society. Therefore the leaders, "due to spiritual immaturity identify spiritual advancement with organizational advancement. Although they know and intend better, the leaders of ISKCON repeatedly find themselves, to their dismay, involved in highly immature patterns of relationships with others. This anomolous situation can only be attributed to an inheritance from the past." Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu repeated in February of 1995 his statement of 1985, that ISKCON is a kanistha-adhikary society. And kanisthas will do what kanisthas are supposed to do. That is, their activities will be of a lower quality, perhaps even detrimental to their own spiritual lives.

It is rather amazing to see the power of maya's covering potency, that even after so many years, the majority of devotees who are critical of the ISKCON administration are critical also of Srila Sridhara Maharaja based on the propaganda of these same leaders of ISKCON that they are critical of, many of when have left in disgrace (as a reaction, in our opinion, to their offensive behavior toward Srila Sridhara Maharaja). Few realize that the predominate reason for the ISKCON leaders generating so much heavy and offensive propaganda against Srila Sridhara Maharaja is that he represented a threat against the leaders' unbridled improper activities and not a threat against ISKCON proper. Srila Sridhara Maharaja was heavily blasphemed from the vyasasana and with papers widely distributed by the GBC.

After all was said and done, many years later when we met Srila Sridhara Maharaja in March of 1987 he expressed the same sentiments that he has consistently expressed for years, that he was proud of Srila Prabhupada's accomplishments and that he was unhappy that ISKCON stalwarts have fallen, that the ISKCON leaders "misunderstand" him and ISKCON couldn't have been helped more. Srila Sridhara Maharaja then proceeded to fill our ears with the sweetest and most nectarean Krsna-katha.

Stalwarts Going Down

March 1987

I am not happy seeing the condition that [name] Maharaja, that [name] Maharaja -- stalwarts are going down. We are so proud of his [Prabhupada's] uncommon, extraordinary activity. In a lifetime I have had experience. A really great sock not only to ISKCON, but to the preaching mission of the West of Sri Chaitanya cult. A setback. One who has got faith and love for Mahaprabhu and our Guru Maharaja. Swami Maharaja means that; Swami Maharaja means our Guru Maharaja, Mahaprabhu, Nityananda. One who can read deeply, he will see it like that. Like that . . . Gouranga Sacisuta . . . All sincere Vaisnaivite that live in India, they felt proud, especially those who have got faith in Krsna-lila, in Srimad-Bhagavatam -- the very gist of the whole Vedic truth . . . veda sarva veda mata , the Mother of Veda is gayatri.  All these pure words contain the whole . . . Gayatri vatsa rupa  also -- I have given that out. It all goes to Krsna-lila. Because the supreme conception of anandam-rasam pleasure, happiness, that is in Krsna-lila . . .

The clear instructions of Srila Sridhara Maharaja in regards to Gurus, godbrothers, disciples, guru worship, and proper vaisnava etiquette amongst all were received by the GBC seemingly in good faith, were partly implemented, partly ignored and later used as an excuse in the GBC's rejection of Srila Sridhara Maharaja. In the end ISKCON followed much of the same advice given by Srila Sridhara Maharaja without giving him credit.

After consultation with Srila Sridhara Maharaja in March of 1978 [Full transcript is given in Appendix C], a paper was presented as the official statement of the GBC, The Process for Carrying out Srila Prabhupada's Desires for Future Initiations, (A paper prepared by the GBC in consultation with higher authorities, March 1978). We present this document in Appendix D, GBC Statement on Guru ~ March 1978. A careful study of this document and the transcript of the GBC's question and answer session with Srila Sridhara Maharaja from which the essence of this GBC position paper was derived reveals many interesting points.

From the impartial viewpoint, tatastha vicar, we cannot but recognize Srila Sridhara Maharaja's high connection with divinity. Without any doubt he is a very very dear servant to Krsna's dearest. He is substantially there-based on his deep understanding of siddhanta and Krsna consciousness, his wonderful qualities and high praise by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta, Srila Prabhupada, Niskincana Krsna Dasa Babaji Maharaja, Srila Bhakti Promod Puri Maharaja, and hosts of other advanced Vaisnavas. We have presented numerous quotes and relative information to substantiate the extremely elevated position of Srila Sridhara Maharaja in chapter one: A Transcendental Friendship. Based on this consideration alone one can conclude that those who have offended him are in a very difficult position spiritually.

Aparadha's Havoc

The example is given of Ramacanda Puri, who disregarded his guru and as a result was rejected by him. This further caused him to criticize many exalted Vaisnavas and he ended up blaspheming the Supreme Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu Himself. Thus the stern warning is there that this path leads to a fatal end for the devotee.

The incident of Daksa's offense to Maharaja Ambarisa illustrates the severity of vaisnava-aparadha. In this regard, the Lord Himself states that, "One's so-called prowess, when employed against the devotee, cetainly harms he who employs it. Thus it is the subject not the object who is harmed." ( Bhag. 9.4.69 )

The example of Daksa can especially be cited. Although he apologized to Lord Siva for his offense to him, nevertheless it is cited in the Vedas that appparently it was not done with proper remorse as he was forced by virtue of this offense to commit further vaisnava-aparadha to Narada Muni eons later in another manvantara-the disease of aparadha remained in Daksa's heart and resurfaced as an offense to the lotus feet of Sri Narada Muni.

Even in the mundane world one who slanders another must retract the slander in the same form that it was given [which we see has not even been attempted], what to speak of an offense to an exalted Vaisnava, which automatically includes, in the case of Srila Sridhara Maharaja-sadhu-ninda (to Srila Sridhara Maharaja as an exalted Vaisnava), guru-aparadha to Srila Prabhupada (acting against Srila Prabhupada's instructions in regards to Srila Sridhara Maharaja and mistreating his intimate friend), guru-aparadha to Srila Sridhara Maharaja (having accepted Srila Sridhara Maharaja as siksa-guru and then rejected him), sastra-ninda to Srila Sridhara Maharaja's books, and vaisnava-aparadha to so many additional associated Vaisnavas. In addition, those responsible for setting the ongoing institutional aparadha in motion are directly responsible for all aparadha committed as a result of this. Indeed the Caitanya-caritamrta Antya-lila 3.164 states:

mahantera apamana ye desa-grame haya
eka janara dose saba desa ujadaya

"Whenever an advanced devotee is insulted, for one man's fault the entire town or place is devastated-everyone in connection with him will suffer."

Further, it is written,

"The most sacred asembly looses its sanctity and religiosity with the slightest Vaishnava-ninda. And even a powerful assembly of sannyasis becomes bereft of religious purity if they indulge in Vaishnava-ninda. In fact a drunkard's party is better than such an unholy assembly. A despicable drunk has still a chance someday to be excused for his unrighteousness, but a Vaishnava offender is bound for abysmal damnation." (Chaitanya Bhavavata, Madhya-lila 13.39-43)

In The Heart of Krsna Srila Puri Maharaja writes,

"If a person witnesses an offense to a pure Vaishnava, he must vehemently protest. If he is unable to do so, with deep regret he must leave the place at once and cut off all connection with the offender. We must never minimize the seriousness of vaishnava-aparadha. Neither should we attempt to defend the offender on the basis of mundane considerations, as this will destroy our spiritual progress and even our material well-being."

Blasphemy Must be Undone With Interest

Srila Bhakti Promod Puri Maharaja states in his book The Heart of Krsna, that "In spite of seeing and hearing about the fatal consequences of offending the Supreme Lord or the devotees, people refuse to become enlightened about it--such is the fearsome cloud of illusion that maya creates to delude everyone."

A Vaisnava easily forgives offenses, however the dust of his feet does not. Srila Sridhara Maharaja when apologized to by Radhanatha Maharaja of New Vrndavana started to cry and and showing genuine Vaisnava humility said, "You have not committed an offense to me." When other devotees approached him he always gave similar answers, exhibiting extreme Vaishnava humility-that they could not offend him since he was not a Vaisnava etc.

From the example of Gadadhara Pandit and Pundarika-total surrender and initiation-what to speak of Daksa-surrender and remorse but not full repentance, we see the type of sincere and deep remorse that is actually necessary to become free of the heinous effects of vaisnava-aparadha. Offenses must not only be undone but undone with interest-that is, one must make a real and substantial effort to correct the damage done, to clarify publicly any misconception or misinformation.

The GBC's improper attitude in regards to Srila Sridhara Maharaja is indicated by their GBC resolution that Srila Sridhara Maharaja is a revered and pure Vaisnava but it is not allowed for anyone associated with ISKCON to associate with him. This is contradictory. We understand that their intention is that, they wish to maintain the stigma they have created towards Srila Sridhara Maharaja and also try to excape the reaction for this offensive attitude. Some apology has been given officially and individually yet we see that the offensive attitude of most devotees in ISKCON toward Srila Sridhara Maharaja has not changed.

Insubstantial Apologies

That we cannot maintain a stigma and at the same avoid aparadha is also indicative that this very idea is against the basic principles of spiritual life-it attempts to impede the spiritual flow. This indicates an anomaly somewhere along the line, and we hope that having read this far, our readers have understood the self-evident truth, that the fault in all of this lies with the GBC and their many mistakes cannot be blamed on Srila Sridhara Maharaja. Many of their policies to this day seem to oppose the very nature of the descending spiritual flow-srota pantha. Therefore we venture to say that the apologies have little meaning. In consideration of Vaisnava history and sastric evidence regarding the effects of vaishnava-aparadha, the future of ISKCON is dire. This premise, as enunciated by Srila Sridhara Maharaja, we have presented earlier.

That apologies were in fact insubstantial has also been stated by Somaka Maharaja in his paper, In Search of Harmony:

At the time this tatastha question [ Origin and Bondage of the Jiva ] came out, there was a newsletter distributed everywhere stating that the idea that we are coming from Brahman is mayavada philosophy and also all kinds of offenses against H. H. B. R. Sridhara Maharaja were broadcast, but the apologies to Sridhara Maharaja were not at all publicized, and the tatastha question was just left in oblivion." Not only were the apologies not publicized but that they were not actually sincere and heartfelt is illustrated by the fact that the offenses were continued after apologies were made for previous offenses.

Show Bottle Reform

Somaka Maharaja continues:

I am quoting this case just to prove that 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 weren't very widely presented, just some new GBCs were made, and some new gurus and that's all. There was no real change of heart. For example in 1987 the zonal acarya thing was recognized to be a mistake. The 'eleven guru only and no more' system was recognized as a mistake, but then why not have a commission of GBCs going to every temple and admit openly all the mistakes? And why not immediately approach all the devotees that have separated and gone away just because of these mistakes and beg pardon from them and invite them back? On the contrary they are still called enemies and are called all sorts of names. So actually there was no real reform, only a show bottle reform; get some of the dissatisfied and opposing men into the group [and thereby shut them up] and that's 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 can't 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.'

Serious Questions, Serious Answers

January 2, 1982:

"You are all serious talkers, not childish. Serious talkers. You are engaging me in serious talk. My center of interest is Mahaprabhu anyhow. And Mahaprabhu has taken me to my Guru Maharaja."

Srila Sridhara Maharaja's policy for any serious question was to ask each devotee involved what was his perspective-what he saw as the problem, then he would give several sastric references, relate episodes from the Vedas of similar occurrances, take into consideration his experience as more than fifty years as a sannyasi during the whole Gaudiya Math history, then he would offer his advise based on all of the above. Manytimes he said that an all encompassing solution was not possible in such a grand and expansive society as ISKCON, therefore they should go with fair feeling and adjust as time dictates. Manytimes he issued warnings and much of his advice (from the very beginning) was that the GBC maintain the spiritual characteristic by doing such things as expanding the number of initiating gurus, giving proper respect to the godbrothers of the gurus, evolving the excessive guru worship to a more reasonable standard and sometimes stating that adjustments will have to be made as time reveals new aspects of a problem. All these advices along with the many complaints of the godbrothers were ignored by the GBC year after year, until they finally had no choice but were forced by circumstances to deal with them.

So many questions were asked of Srila Sridhara Maharaja and he patiently answered them all, yet noticed that manytimes the devotees only interest was to pocket the answers to be used later to show their expertise in the philosophy. Several godbrothers in ISKCON have told us personally that Srila Sridhara Maharaja's lucid explanations of the Gaudiya siddhanta in his books and talks greatly improved their ability to give classes, but "of course I couldn't tell where I received this spiritual boost."

It is almost impossible to be released from the consequences of vaisnava-aparadha. Without feeling deep remorse, and without surrendering at the feet of the offended devotee, one can never be forgiven. Without such forgiveness, the goal of life is lost. It is our understanding that due to the insincere apologies and continued institutionalized vaishnava-aparadha to Srila Sridhara Maharaja that ISKCON is forced to again and again commit offenses to Vaishnavas. We have only to study the stories of Daksa or Ramacandra Puri to understand the very unfortunate significance of these acts.

Atonement-Our Only Respite

We suggest that since Srila Sridhara Maharaja is no longer physically present, devotees who are burdoned by their offenses to Srila Sridhara Maharaja should sincerely repent their offenses with deep remorse and pray for the Lord's mercy. They should make a public statement in print clearly expressing their heartfelt sentiments, recognizing that forgiveness for their offenses will be proportional to the actual inner sincerity of their repentance and admittance of the truth. Further, relief will also depend upon the effectiveness of this public statement in terms of its correcting the offensive mentality in so many devotees minds towards Srila Sridhara Maharaja. They should then take shelter of the holy names of Sri Sri Gaura-Nityananda and pray continuously for forgiveness. It goes without saying that they should avoid all future offenses and avoid the association of those who continue their offensive attitude. A revised style of management is suggested so as to minimize reoccurance of further incidents of offensive activities.