"Q&A on "Sampradaya Acarya" Paper"
by Rocana dasa
July 25, 2004
For those who are interested, please see the new document just posted:"Questions & Answers on Sampradaya Acarya"
The original paper is located at:
Replies: 5 comments
Posted by Jai Chaitanya Das @ 11/08/2004 02:49 PM PST
I read with intrest your "Sampradaya Acarya" paper. I am a grand-disciple of Srila Prabhupada, and have pondered these questions from many angles for quite some time.
I have heard preaching first-hand, and studied liturature from most groups of thought, from the Babajis of Radha Kund, to most branches of the Gaudiya Math, to the ritvik theorists.
Your paper is level headed and realistic, and I have many comments , but little time to write at the moment.
I tend to think many problems can be traced to the fact the movement's management and internal 'cultural development' if you will, was left (justly or unjustly) to neophyte devotees, not free from mixed intentions. (I think this is a mute point these days).
Mainly what I would like to say is that it seems most of us want to have Guru do our bhajan for us. The point in the Siksha sampradaya in my understaning, is to provide Hari Nama and the proper understanding for its cultivation. The previous Acaryas (or any bonafide guru)never say, "just worship me and I will deliver you" they say Harinama and Bhagavat Katha is the essence of life. This is Shiksha. Jiva Gosvami and Bhaktivinode both say the potency in the Diksha mantra is Harinama.
The Guru, no matter his adhikar, should preach pure Harinama and Harinama will deliver us. This is the bottom line of Mahaprabhu's message, no matter what other variables exist. To achieve prema with no personal qualification or effort, simply by the mercy of Guru is possible in the case of extremely potent persons but it is not the prescribed method. Somehow many of us let our sentimentality distort our understand of Guru, Shastra and Sadhu.
Prabhupada was indeed Sampradaya Acarya, and gave the unobstructed road to Krsna and whatever obstructions we find are either placed by us, or by others knowingly or unknowingly.
It is a pretty nice idea that every Guru should be completely pure and Uttama Adhikari, but it is not and I suspect ever was the case in the history of any Vaisnava Sampradaya.
It is much easier to fight about philosophy and shop for Gurus than confront the fact I don't have attachment for the Holy Name (I know this from personal experience). Furthermore whether the whole Gaudiya world or the whole planet understands Prabhupada to be the Sampradaya Acarya is immaterial in one sense, as long as we understand his purpose (which is not always same purpose some of his disciples expound). I hope my comments came accross the way I intend to not incite anyone (its so difficult nowadays!) Keep up the good work. Hare Krsna.
Posted by Rocana dasa @ 11/20/2004 02:44 PM PST
Dear Jai Chaitanya das,
Obeisances and all glories to Srila Prabhupada. Thank you for reading my Sampradaya Acarya paper and taking the time to make the comments that you did. Iíll try to address some of your points, as best I can.
The observation that the movement was left in the hands of neophyte devotees is certainly, as you say, a mute point in hindsight. Iím not sure when you actually joined ISKCON, so I donít know how familiar you are with the mood that pervaded at the time Srila Prabhupada left. I assume youíve heard some of the stories. Truth is stranger than fiction.
ISKCON and its authorities, especially those directly involved in introducing the Zonal Acarya System, like to play down the philosophy that they were preaching, as well as the resultant actions. Needless to say, it was very strange. One is left to conclude that only neophytes could come up with such a bizarre conception. Nowadays, they like to relegate the Rtvik conclusion to being contrary to sastra, which I agree that it is, in many respects. However, the Zonal Acarya System was far more of a sastric deviation. Let us remember that this went on for over 10 years, and it was not brought down Ė was not stopped by the benefactors coming to the realization that theyíd made a mistake. Change was forced upon them by the middle managers, and the Zonals scrambled to come up with a different program that would allow them to maintain as much power as they could. Since the time of the so-called Ďreformationí, the philosophical basis for their present circumstances has gone through numerous changes, but the essence is that they preach and believe that the GBC is now the aggregate equivalent of the present Acarya, which is another philosophical deviation.
I believe that your point that harinam is the proper understanding should be more emphasized and cultivated. This is undeniable. Of course, our philosophy is such that itís very easy to explain because the truth is simple, but at the same time itís very difficult to actually implement. To purely chant the Holy Name of the Lord free from any offenses, with a genuine attachment, is the ultimate goal and is the most difficult of all things to achieve.
As far as the guru preaching of pure harinam, thatís very good, although we find that a lot of gurus have a hard time just chanting their rounds and donít seem to be too enthusiastic for kirtan. I suppose one can use that as a litmus test of how advanced a person is, as to how much genuine desire he exhibits to chant the Hare Krsna maha mantra. But whether itís chanting the maha mantra or following the regulative principles, or being 100% in line with Srila Prabhupadaís mood and desires, all these points are somewhat subjective. Unless one spends 24x7 associating with somebody, itís hard to determine whether or not they are doing what they say they are in terms of following. The qualities of the devotee and whether a devotee is chanting offenselessly, etc., is very subjective. Still, as devotees, we should be able to intuitively recognize how pure a person is by their enthusiasm for following the process and the philosophy. Frankly, I donít see much of that these days. Certainly not anywhere close to what Srila Prabhupada exhibited, which was symptomatic of his potency.
As far as fighting over the philosophy, for those of us who are conditioned souls there will inevitably be some disagreement over the philosophy. One hopes that a certain amount of logic, reason and sastric evidence can be brought to bear. But my personal observation is that most devotees arenít really interested in the philosophy. They come to certain philosophical conclusions early in their Krsna Consciousness, and doggedly stick to those conclusions when theyíre supposedly defending some philosophical position. You soon discover that their position is not really based on a firm believe in some philosophical stand, but rather is due to an attachment they have to some group or their own mental conceptions. Itís very hard to change them by preaching a different line of thinking about the philosophy.
To date, no one has really challenged me on my concept of the Sampradaya Acarya. Although there are obviously people who disagree, they havenít presented any strong arguments on how or why they disagree. Even the Gaudiya Matha representatives such as Narayana Maharaja have little of substance to say on the matter. Narayana Maharaja uses the terminology ďbhagawat paramparaĒ to identify what I call the Sampradaya Acarya parampara. In a recent paper, he recites many examples that support how my arguments are true. But at the same time, Narayana Maharaja chooses to identify with what he calls the ďguru paramparaĒ, which is what I call the diksa parampara. He says theyíre sort of going along on a parallel track, but in the end, he doesnít accept Srila Prabhupada as the Sampradaya Acarya. He accepts him as being part of the Bhagawat parampara, but he also accepts his guru and all the Gaudiya Matha gurus as being on the same standard level as Srila Prabhupada. The only verification that they are on the same level or standard is his say-so, and the fact that theyíre also disciples of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur.
Iím look forward to any further comments you might like to make, as time permits, or other questions you might have. Thanks for your association here.
Posted by Antariksa @ 03/06/2005 02:45 AM PST
Please accept my humble obei-
sances. All glories to our sweet-
est ocean of mercy, Srila Prabhupada.
Darn the technology :>) When I'd been typing for quite a while, a
comment to you, I seemed to have
typed one word too many, and all
that I'd typed, quite suddenly,
I'll try to paraphrase my own comment. I praised you and thanked you for your writings
which have been blessing me so
much and truly, even making me
feel great satisfaction. Thank
you very much. I mentioned how I'd read your writing on the idea
of Sampradaya Acarya, probably,
more than three times, learning something new each time. And I
told you that I was very inter-
ested to hear your thoughts on
how us conditioned souls might
best work together to serve our
dear Gurudev's great mission. The
comments you make on the distinc-
tion between religiousity and,
for example, the historical pro-
blems of ISKCON, as an organiza-
tion infected by such propensi-
ties, and spirituality, and how we
might be able to use our experi-
ence with the methods of democracy
to help us form a more truly spir-
itual Vaisnava local, global and
Vaikunta like, community, seems to
me to be an idea whose time has
come. And, I'd shared a story with you to the point of where I
was about to reveal that I've
been blessed to be able to be try-
ing to serve and worship Sri Panca
Tattva in the form of the paint-
ing by Jadurani, which graces the
cover of Sri Caitanya Caritamrta,
Adi v1, where Lord Balaram is
wearing a red dhoti and Sri Gadad-
hara is wearing a blue dhoti. I'm
afraid to type much more for fear
that it will all go away :>) I hope to hear from you at your earliest convenience.
your humble servant,
Antariksa dasa / aka Eric Crosley
Posted by Antariksa @ 03/06/2005 02:56 AM PST
I forgot to share with you a re-
cent poem I'd written, in large
part inspired by our President
Bush's folly of creating and push-
ing such a slogan as, "the owner-
ship society." (please forgive our mis-spelling of any transli-
in this mrtyaloka
realize your vigrahah
in sat cit ananda........
Although, it is a very light-hearted little poem, the intent
is far from that, of course. I'll
use it as a teaching/preaching
tool, to try to help spread a
little of the knowledge that Srila
Prabhupada teaches us so clearly
and effectively. Om Tat Sat.
again, your humble servant,
Posted by Rocana dasa @ 03/30/2005 09:12 PM PST
Dear Antariksa dasa,
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to our sweetest ocean of mercy, Srila Prabhupada.
I appreciated your contribution to the Blog. Sorry itís taken me so long to reply!
Your questions and comments get at the heart of the matter. The most recent Sampradaya Acaryas have emphasized a concerted cooperative effort amongst the sincere servants of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu to spread the glories of chanting the Holy Names throughout the planet. This desired atmosphere of working harmoniously together has been counteracted by the pernicious effects of Kali yuga -- both quarrel and hypocrisy. The true Acaryas were mostly looking for positive, tangible results rather than upholding traditional governance scenarios such as Guru/Disciple, Varna Asrama, or the institutional model wherein the physically present Sampradaya Acarya is heading-up the mission.
The question is what sort of arrangement is best when there isnít an absolutely pure leader, admired by all, in charge? Judging by historical hindsight, we can see that democracies seem to work the best over and above other forms of governing methods. The present ISKCON GBC will strongly disagree, no doubt. They have an internal form of democracy within their own ranks, but refuse to extend this concept into the rank and file membership for obvious reasons. They have granted themselves uncontested lifetime membership. This seems to work best in areas of the world where the people are used to such arrangements, like in Eastern Europe. Western Europeans and especially Americans and Canadians have a hard time cooperating under these conditions, thus we see a very big drop in cooperative efforts here. And, as the original youngsters grow-up they are not inclined to submit to what appears to be autocratic impersonal governance. Add to this the Diksa Guru blind obedient disciple model, and you have a really impossible hybrid system that doesnít work on either level.
Thatís a brief analysis, but just how to revamp this unworkable monstrosity is not something I have answers for, beyond what Iím doing now -- expressing my opinion and communicating with others is all that I can do. Most of the ISKCON preaching centers in the west have basically become churches servicing those devotees who have a religious outlook on Krsna Consciousness. This seems to be mostly Hindus and householders who attend weekly, with a very small contingency of strict brahmacaris and brahmacarinis. Srila Prabhupadaís vision of complete communities has been morphed into what we see today, primarily because the powers that be canít bring themselves to share power and change the system so as to accommodate more active participation.
Individually, according to time place and circumstance, we can only use our intelligence to make the best of a far from ideal situation. Itís encouraging to hear from you and witness how you are reading and thinking about these matters. I enjoyed your poem, kind words and thoughts of Sri Caitanya Caritamrita.
Your humble servant,