Maintaining the Purity
BY: MURARI DAS
Sep 15, 2012 INDIA (SUN) This article was written as a response to the article "Clarifying Radhanath Swami's Preaching Strategies", which appeared on the Sun a few days ago. However, I would like to stress that this article is not aimed at any individual or group, but rather just at different ideas and conceptions which the author sees as erroneous and not in line with the instructions we were handed down by His Divine Grace.
In the article, in the sub-section entitled 'Preaching according to time and place: Gaudiya precedents', a long list of Acaryas appear and their adaptations, with the idea that it is OK to make adaptations. Last on the list with a single entry is Srila Prabhupada. Being Prabhupadanugas, are we not supposed to be following Srila Prabhupada? Is it not improper etiquette to ‘jump over the Guru'? Srila Prabhupada said that his books will be the lawbooks for mankind for the next 10,000 years. So within a few years of his Divine Grace's unmanifestation, how is it that we have found so many other sources?
Yes, we may study and draw inspiration from the previous Acaryas, but our practise should be strictly based on Srila Prabhupada's teachings. This is what it means to be an ‘ISKCON' member. A follower of Srila Prabhupada.
If the author of that article were to indeed draw on teachings from Srila Prabhupada, he shall see that with respect to preaching, Srila Prabhupada repeatedly warned us not to change anything and to simply do as he did:
"Now you must all three, along with the other sannyasis, GBC members, and other leaders become very serious to actually give the human kind the greatest welfare, namely, this Krishna Consciousness movement. Your task ahead is very huge, but it will be quite simple and easy if you simply do as I am doing."
(Letter to Hrdayananda -- New York, July 9, 1972)
"The standards I have already given you, now try to maintain them at all times under standard procedure. Do not try to innovate or create anything or manufacture anything, that will ruin everything. Simply do as I am doing and be always serious and sincere to serve Krsna, and He will give you intelligence how to do everything."
(Letter to Bali-mardana, Pusta Krsna -- Los Angeles, September 18, 1972)
"So you are sannyasi, but if you have to stay there for some time to manage, that is all right. Sannyasi simply means to do as I am doing"
(Letter to Satsvarupa -- Vrindaban, November 5, 1972)
"So we shall not like to take the credit in that case, therefore I am praying simply that all of you, my advanced disciples, GBC men, sannyasis, temple officers, like that, that all of you will become sober-minded and feeling always very much responsible how the things will go on as I have given them. If you simply do as I am doing"
(Letter to Pusta Krsna -- Bombay, December 29, 1972)
"His voice became stern. "All of them are my disciples. They have accepted me as their spiritual master and they should follow me and do as I am doing. We accept a guru, we should accept his order. Why he is going here and there? Why he is going to meet big, big gosais?"
(TD 4-5: Sri Vrndavana-dhama)
The point here is that one should simply follow the Guru and not make up anything new. Srila Prabhupada would say that the modern disease was always to try and adjust, change, modify. But the Vedic system was simply to do the same system. sa evayam maya te 'dya yogah proktah puratanah (Bhagavad-gita 4.3). In this verse Krsna mentions how He is explaining the same ancient truth to Arjuna. Not a new and improved way for this age. The Truth doesn't change.
It is not that we don't sometimes try to resort to these indirect methods of preaching. It is done sometimes when required, for example in the Middle East or Far East. But in most cases these new fangled schemes and innovations are not really required. If one has faith in Krsna and acts under the order of his guru as a menial servant, then he will be empowered by Krsna to preach the Absolute Truth. Simply by repeating Srila Prabhupada's words and method there can be success.
"We simply repeat what previous acarya have said and that is our merit. Therefore it is being accepted all over the world."
(Letter to S. K. Roy -- Bombay, December 16, 1974)
"I have read the text of your speech delivered to the Rotary Club and it is very thoughtfully prepared. Try to arrange as many speaking engagements like that, and simply repeat what you have heard me say in lectures and in our books, and the spiritual effect will be very potent. I am very pleased with your preaching attitude."
(Letter to Giriraja -- Bombay, January 3, 1972)
In the sub-section, 'Post-modernism: The Contemporary Intellectual Ethos', the author wrote:
"The intellectual ethos of the times we reside in has been called post-modernism. In modern times (which are now considered outdated in the West), people had faith in reason and science…."
Who has called it that? What is he basing his knowledge on? And does that change anything? Wet stool and dry stool is still stool. This is the material world, devi dham, where Maya holds sway here. It has infiltrated everything, even our senses, mind and intelligence (see BG 3.40). That means these people who are giving all these fancy names are also in maya. The Vedic knowledge is transcendental. The fact that it was planted successfully in mlecchadesh and yavanadesh should be proof enough that it can be propagated anywhere.
The only qualification is that we have to please our Guru and follow him and thus get Krsna's mercy and empowerment (yasya deve para bhaktir…..yasya prasadad bhagavat prasado…krsna sakti vina nahi tare pravartana). This post-modern, neo-liberal etc. is on the mental platform. We should just understand that we are in the age of Kali yuga and there is no Dharma, knowledge etc.. as per sastric reference:
kalau nasta-drsam esa
This Bhagavata Purana is as brilliant as the sun, and it has arisen just after the departure of Lord Kåñëa to His own abode, accompanied by religion, knowledge, etc. Persons who have lost their vision due to the dense darkness of ignorance in the age of Kali shall get light from this Purana."
(Srimad Bhagavatam 1.3.43)
In this age of Kali, it's better that we get our knowledge and vision from Srimad Bhagavatam, Bhagavad-gita, etc. rather than the philosophers, sociologists and confusedologists, since they are also in maya. The problems are the same, janma mrtyu jara vyadhi and the solutions are the same; bhakti (mainly kirtanam, chanting the Holy Name) introduced by the teachings of Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Srimad Bhagavatam, etc.
We should just go out and do harinams, distribute some books, just plainly explain to people that this modern civilization is made up of the cheaters and the cheated and that the blind are leading the blind. Believe me; even by just being direct we can influence people. But, you might say that, how many people can we get like that? We want thousands to join and we are influencing so many with our new innovations.
The author states that:
"Ultimately, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Or in Vedic parlance: phalena parichayate (a tree is known by its fruit). The Radha-Gopinath temple community that Radhanath Swami has developed has become one of the greatest success stories of ISKCON in the post-Prabhupada era. Despite being a project that was born after the departure of Srila Prabhupada, its outreach has surpassed that of many older projects. Every Sunday, more than a thousand devotees come to the temple for a program of pure Krishna consciousness: hearing, chanting, dancing, darshan and prasad. This Sunday feast program turnout is more than that of any other ISKCON temple in the whole world."
However Srila Prabhupada's mood regarding preaching was somewhat different. He placed greater emphasis on having ‘one moon' instead of so many stars, or as mentioned in another quote, he preferred to go for the classes rather than the masses:
"Better to develop the small number of devotees we have, make them truly Krishna conscious boys and girls than to go on getting many followers who do not understand and practice the real principles. Better one moon that many stars."
( Letter to Damodara -- Honolulu , May 9, 1972)
"Consequently I do not have many followers, but I do have a select few. Because they are select, they will bring about a revolution in the world. One moon is sufficient to dissipate darkness. If there is one moon, there is no need for millions of stars. It is useless to expect a large number of followers. We want only one good follower. If I can get one man to become Krsna conscious, I will consider my mission fulfilled. If you talk to whatever small number of followers I have, you will find that they speak better than any great philosopher, better than any scientist or politician."
('The Choice is Yours', BTG # 10-04, 1975)
"The Krsna consciousness movement, for instance, cannot be understood by the masses. Only a few who are fortunate can understand. There may be millions of stars in the sky, but there is only one moon, and that is sufficient to drive away the darkness. It is not possible to have many moons, although there may be many glowworms."
(BID 10: John Stuart Mill)
Of course we will aim for as many people as possible, but we should not try to change anything just to attract these extra followers.
"I am not much fond of the idea of changing things to accommodate the public -- better to change the public to accommodate us."
(Letter to: Bali-mardana -- Bombay, December 28, 1971)
Some of the points and arguments that are in contention are surprising, as anyone who reads the Bhaktivedanta Purports or hears Srila Prabhupada's lectures daily will get a very clear understanding of where we stand in relation to Mayavadis, welfare work, ‘innovative preaching methods', etc.
In the sub-section, 'Srila Prabhupada friendly dealings with Mayavadis in Preaching':
Almost all the quotes were taken from the early days of the movement. In the early days of the movement, Srila Prabhupada used to be in the kitchen alone with women disciples and followers showing them how to cook. So can Sannyasis do that now? There is an expression in Bengali that: "Just because my mother was naked when she was young it doesn't mean she is naked now". In other words, certain practices were done in the early days, but we can't live like that forever. We are supposed to raise the standard. For example, a lot of compromises were made with respect to roles of women and interactions between men and women for services. But we cannot continue those standards now as Srila Prabhupada wanted us to move towards Daivi Varnasram, with specific roles for genders, castes, varnas, etc. So if we want to see Srila Prabhupada's view on Mayavadis, it's better to focus later on when His Divine Grace had established ISKCON and was directing his followers how to preach.
Instead of me trying to formulate an opinion on how we should relate to Mayavadis and impersonalists, lets take a look at some quotes of Srila Prabhupada to get an idea of how ISKCON members should deal with them:
"Regarding the impersonalist swamis, don't try to mix with any Swami who has no knowledge of Krsna Consciousness. So their speaking is simply maya, therefore they are called Mayavadis. Lord Caitanya has warned us that anyone who listens to or tries to understand the impersonalist philosophy is doomed, his devotion will become dried up.
"Regarding worship of demigods, the whole Hindu society is absorbed in this business, so unless our preaching work is very vigorous it is very difficult to stop them."
(Letter to Upendra -- Amritsar, October 26, 1970)
"No compromise -- Ramakrishna, avataras, yogis, everyone was enemy to Guru Maharaja -- he never compromised. Some God-brothers complained that this preaching was chopping technique and it would not be successful. But we have seen that those who criticized, they fell down. For my part I have taken up the policy of my Guru Maharaja -- no compromise. All these so called scholars, scientists, philosophers who do not accept Krsna are nothing more than rascals, fools lowest of mankind etc."
(Letter to Karandhara -- Bhaktivedanta Manor, July 27, 1973)
"If one desires to make a compromise with the Mayavadis, he is also engaged in material activity. A devotee should never make compromises with nondevotees."
(Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya 12.135)
"He said his Guru Maharaj, Sri Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami, liked daring devotees who did not compromise. Those who compromise he called good-for-nothings ."
(Notes on the teachings of a pure Devotee ... taken by Satsvarupa)
"I must be hard. The whole world is falling for this mayavada philosophy. Therefore I am very much hard. I don't make any compromise with these mayavadi rascals. No. I'll never do that. Even if I don't make any disciples, I'll be satisfied, but I cannot make any compromise with these rascals. I cannot. If I make one moon, that is sufficient; I don't want many stars. That was my guru maharaja's principle, and that is my principle. What is the use of any number of fools and rascals? If one man understands rightly, he can deliver the whole world."
(Conversation between Srila Prabhupada and Dr. Patel, March 1974)
"So we are preaching the highest principles of loving service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and as such, there is no scope for compromising with any of the kinds of philosophies of the impersonalist school."
(Letter to Hayagriva -- Montreal 10 July, 1968)
Bold preaching is required. However we should not be reckless or brash in our attitude. Preaching is like a surgery in that anarthas and attachments have to be removed carefully. If we apply too much force we can cause harm, or if we apply to little force we can also cause harm by not delivering the full message. The case for strong preaching is being made now more than ever, especially by HH Bhakti Vikasa Swami, since the case for ‘soft and subtle' and bridge preaching is being pushed more and more even when it is not required, or even when it would cause harm to do so. Devotees are increasingly afraid nowadays to:
distribute books (we might annoy people)
do harinam (again we might annoy people)
say that Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead (they'll think we are fanatical)
say demigod preaching is not required and in fact, is for the less intelligent (BG) (we'll scare away the donors)
wear Vaisnava dress (people will prejudge us and not listen to our message)
Therefore a lot of forward, direct, bold preaching as it was in Srila Prabhupada's time has stopped or drastically reduced. In one large temple in India, new devotees are even stopped from reading Srila Prabhupada's books and are instead given other books first to read, so as not to scare them away. In this unhealthy environment the case for direct and bold preaching has to be made more and more.
"Our presentation of Krishna Consciousness must be always very bold-if we are king, we must act like king. The idea is if we speak the truth, those will hear who are intended to hear by being qualified or prepared. It is not that we should compromise to attract the mass -- we are after the class."
(Letter to Lalita Kumar -- Delhi, November 15, 1971)
"My Guru Maharaja never compromised in His preaching, nor will I nor should any of my students. We are firmly convinced that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and all other are His part and parcel servants. This we must declare boldly to the whole world, that they should not foolishly dream of world peace unless they are prepared to surrender fully to Krishna as Supreme Lord."
(Letter to Giriraja -- Bombay, January 3, 1972)
The book by HH Bhakti Vikasa Swami titled On Speaking Strongly
in Srila Prabhupada's Service is therefore a panacea for this state of affairs and inspirational for devotees who would like to preach and propagate Krsna consciousness in the mood of Srila Prabhupada, without any compromises. It is highly recommended that anyone who would like to study and emulate the mood of Srila Prabhupada in terms of preaching should study this book. (www.SpeakingStrongly.com)
Hospital, Mundane (Bodily) Welfare Work, Prasadam distribution
An article was recently written by the mercy of Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga with extensive quotes of His Divine Grace, mentioning clearly how and why the above three activities were not only not approved by His Divine Grace, but also regularly denounced in so many lectures, classes and conversations. The article can be found here. It was also published on the Sun, as well as Dandavat.com. In fact it is still being displayed on Dandavats. It is recommend that this article above be read by all, as it contains numerous quotes by Srila Prabhupada on the topics of: hospital and medical-aid oriented activities, mundane (nodily) welfare work and Prasadam distribution. A lot of the views and points that came up during research seemed to be not so prominent and not expressed by our leaders of today, and yet they are very important for us. Two such quotes:
"In Bhagavad-gita there is no such statement that you take care of the eyes of the people. There is no such statement. That is your manufactured idea. But we are preaching Bhagavad-gita as it is. That is the difference. Our preaching is that instead of giving relief to the eyes, give him relief in such a way he hasn't got to accept any more this body with eyes. You cannot make a solution of the problem. Somebody is taking care of the eyes, somebody's taking of the finger, somebody of the hair, somebody of another, genital, and so on, so on. This will not solve the problem. The problem is, as it is said in the Bhagavad…, janma-mrtyu-jara-vyadhi-duhkha-dosanudarsanam [Bg. 13.9]. This is intelligence. As soon as you take birth, then you'll have eyes, you'll have eye trouble, vyadhi. Janma-mrtyu-jara-vyadhi. If you accept janma-mrtyu, then between janma-mrtyu there is vyadhi and jara. You have to accept. You may give some relief, but you have to accept. So that is not solution. The solution is how to stop this janma-mrtyu-jara-vyadhi. That is solution.
(Room Conversation — Bombay, January 8, 1977)
Hrdayananda: You're the only one, Prabhupada, who dares to criticize hospitals and schools. (laughter)
Prabhupada: Yes, so many people came to request me… Even Dr. Ghosh. Eh? You know.
Satsvarupa: He wanted you to open a medical dispensary.
Prabhupada: "No, no, we are not going to waste our time in that way." I frankly told him. We have no extra time to waste like that. What he thinks very big project, we say it is waste of time. (laughter)
Hrdayananda: Jaya. It is a completely revolutionary idea.
Prabhupada: Yes. I cannot allow anyone he's waste his valuable time of human life.
Guru-krpa: You said before that the more hospitals they open that means the more people have to become sick.
Prabhupada: That, more… Yes.
Guru-krpa: To get in the hospital.
Prabhupada: They are very much proud, "We have opened fifty hospitals." That means fifty thousand people have become sick. "We have increased so many beds." That means so many people have more increased their disease. But they're proud of doing this.
(Morning Walk — Los Angeles, July 9, 1974)
There is nothing wrong per se with devotees working in hospitals and making it into a Krsna conscious environment. However this should not be carried out by any ISKCON centre, and neither should it be given a name which would confuse people into thinking that this is part of ISKCON. This causes confusion in the following ways:
new devotees start thinking that this is part of devotional service
other centres also start thinking that we should have a hospital also
after some time the devotees themselves also get affected by thinking that they are really doing a great service for Srila Prabhupada by doing medical services for people
people who join the movement think that they can continue with their mundane education, career and medical degree and be part of mundane society, and not join fulltime since this is also a way to serve (although it is at a lower level, since we dovetail our desire by dedicating it to Krsna rather than listening to what Krsna wants)
The solution is that the hospital should not be given a name that would associate it with ISKCON and it should not be guided, administered etc. by the temple, since this is not one of the 7 aims of ISKCON as laid out by Srila Prabhupada. Also, full-time devotees or any devotees who are not working there should not be involved in promoting or collecting for it.
Anyway, it doesn't seem right that Srila Prabhupada preached AGAINST the opening of hospitals by sadhus and spiritual organizations his whole life, and then after his manifest presence we name a hospital after him.
If devotees are keen to preach and alleviate the suffering condition of the living entities in this world, then we should follow Srila Prabhupada's direction and perform the following activities:
Book distribution – the best way to preach according to Srila Prabhupada
Preaching in villages for people to not move to the city
Develop self-sufficient farms with Daivi Varnashram societies – Long overdue. Srila Prabhupada said towards the end of his manifest presence that if he had hope to live on he wanted to organize the farms. Srila Prabhupada mentions that :
"Unless in the human society the varnasrama system is introduced, no scheme or social order, health order or any order, political order, will be successful.
(Room Conversation Vrndavana, October 18, 1977)
Remember Srila Prabhupada kept stressing that we do as he does and not make up new schemes. So we should simply find out what he wanted of us and do his work instead of finding new ideas. The things that we should all be working towards now are increasing book distribution, establishing Varnasharam colleges, self-sufficient farm communities, preaching to the scientific community, diorama exhibitions, to name a few.
Simply by repeating and following the Guru success is guaranteed. The moment we try to concoct or change it, this is deviation.
"When disciples do not stick to the principle of accepting the order of their spiritual master, immediately there are two opinions. Any opinion different from the opinion of the spiritual master is useless. One cannot infiltrate materially concocted ideas into spiritual advancement. That is deviation. There is no scope for adjusting spiritual advancement to material ideas."
(Caitanya-caritamrta Adi 12.9)
Finally, at the end of "Clarifying Radhanath Swami's Preaching Strategies" it was written that:
"While HH Radhanath swami takes a SENSITIVE APPROACH, suitable for POST MODERN YOUTH OF AMERICA and INDIA, Your Holiness DEMANDS that he take a BOLD COURAGEOUS APPROACH involving LOGIC & REASON without paying attention to hearts of people. Thus the tussle that has come about in these discussions is one of Boldness vs Sensitivity."
However, I beg to defer. Maharaja doesn't say that we take the BOLD COURAGEOUS approach. He just mentions that when it is required to be direct or bold, we should do that. In many cases it is better for the conditioned jiva if we speak forcefully than if we try to be ‘nice and sensitive.' What is the benefit if we are very polite and nice to a person while trying to preach, and after he dies the person goes to hell or becomes a dog due to not having taken up Krsna consciousness?
Our role as preachers is to try and save the conditioned souls from material existence and no to be considered ‘nice' by them. Of course we shouldn't be brash or arrogant. But if in our effort to not hurt their feelings we refrain from disclosing deeper aspects of sastric knowledge for fear that they will take offence, then we become their enemy. Therefore the preacher that risks being not liked for having spoken forcefully has done a better service and is the conditioned soul's true friend. The following story from the book, My Memories of Srila Prabhupada by H. H. Bhakti Vikasa Swami, communicates this idea:
"Srila Prabhupada gave the example of a man flying a kite at a cliff's edge. Totally absorbed, his eyes fixed in the sky, he does not perceive the danger of imminent death. Seeing his precarious situation, any commonsensical observer would call out to warn him. Only a madman would think, ''He is enjoying flying the kite. Why should I disturb him?'' A sane man must call out, ''Watch out!'' If the kite-flyer is a fool and a rascal, he will not heed the warning. Rather, keeping his eyes determinedly fixed in the air, he will rebuke his well-wisher, ''Why are you disturbing me? Can't you see I'm flying my kite? Do you think I don't know what I'm doing?'' Or, in arrogance, the foolish kite-flyer may simply ignore his well-wisher. Just to shock the rascal to come to his senses and save him from certain doom, the observer may urgently berate him, ''You fool! You rascal!'' The kite-flyer may not like such insulting words, although meant for his benefit.
The above example nullifies the objection that forceful speaking makes us unpopular. To be unpopular among fools is not bad; what is bad is to acquiesce to their foolishness by not speaking against it. We have to try to save people, even against their protests.
Our Krsna consciousness movement is a protest against all this nonsense. And therefore we are unpopular. But we don't care for that. Popular or unpopular, we must go on with our business."
(MMSP 7-2: 'And Fought Prabhupada Did')