Danger of Overstepping Authority
San Francisco, November 4, 1993
Dear Hansadutta Das:
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada and all Vaishnava Preachers.
Thank you for your letter. I have already forgiven you, if I have any forgiveness to offer. I always pray for your spiritual satisfaction and advancement, and I continue to do so. I do not completely share your opinion of how terrible you have been. Please do not throw your baby out with your bath water. While your realization that you are acting of Prabhupada’s representative maybe deep and profound, I personally find that it may not be the final or complete foundation for your continued spiritual progress. In your capacity as our spiritual master you were a medium for many divine and spiritually enlightening instructions. If I may be so bold as to say your achar, or activities, did not always live up to that divinity. Most prominent, though, in impacting your spiritual life, I feel, again if I may be so bold as to say, was not thinking yourself guru but rather Vaishnava aparadha. Every spiritual teacher, guru, etc. confirms the danger of pride and offending of a Vaishnava. This is the single most dangerous thing to one’s spiritual advancement.
While I believe that your current consciousness and realizations are true and significant progress for you, I strongly feel that they are only a stepping stone for some higher and broader realizations yet to manifest themselves. That fertile ground is our humility and submission. Srila Prabhupada is a shaktavesha avatar empowered to fulfill the mission of Lord Chaitanya and the desire of Thakur Bhakti Vinod and Srila Bhakti Siddhanta. There is no contention of his exalted position. However, it is dangerous for any Vaishnava to adopt a bold mood and boldly state that no other guru or acharya has the purity or is a bona fide via medium for the absolute truth, Sri Krishna. Please be careful not to adopt this dangerous assumption but rather maintain the humble posture that you may not be such a person or be qualified at this time. Please also remember that it is within the power of the Lord and Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to make you qualified. I do not feel that Srila Prabhupada wanted only that you become a rittvik. I think he very clearly wanted you to become guru. He wanted all his disciples to become guru. Of course we all know that this will not be the case. I feel that it is clear and not in contention that Prabhupada appointed rittviks; but that does not mean that he did not want one or all of his disciples to become guru. This is the challenge. I agree, of course, that no one should falsely adopt the position of guru, and that madness has created insurmountable turmoil and anxiety to the devotees and needs to be corrected. However, in the process we must protect our Vaishnava tradition and siddhanta and not, as you mention, adopt Christian ideas. The whole process of spiritual evolution and advancement depends on sadhu sanga. Based on the quality of that sanga, our opportunities to access the spiritual world and develop the qualities necessary to travel there rest. Lord Chaitanya states one should chant the holy name of the Lord in a humble state of mind, thinking oneself lower than the straw on the street, devoid of all sense of false prestige and always ready to offer all respects to others. If this is the consciousness we are trying to adopt, then surely there is association which can help guide and nurture our spiritual lives, and that should be our focus. That association will naturally reinforce, extend and broaden our faith in Srila Prabhupada. We cannot limit Chaitya Guru as he is above our boundaries. We must adopt a warm and open heart. Perhaps we can discuss this further in Vrindavan.
By the way, Nada and my daughter are accompanying me with Gaura Nataraj and his wife and sister-in-law. We look forward to seeing you there. In the meantime I also ask you to keep an open heart and mind, and please do not directly or indirectly or accidentally commit offenses to Srila Sridhar Maharaj or Srila Govinda Maharaj whom in all honesty and humility I feel to be also representing Srila Prabhupada and the Sampradaya. This is my humble request. Please forgive this letter if I have been bold or assertive. My mood is that actually I am your servant, but in all honesty my service now, may be to repay some of my previous debts to you by sharing with you some of the good fortune I have received by the mercy of Srila Prabhupada, Srila Sridhar Maharaj and Srila Govinda Maharaj. Although I am extremely fallen and unqualified, I have received a causeless mercy of their association and my path to advance in Krishna consciousness has never been so clear by their mercy.
I wish you well. May Srila Prabhupada continue to bless you.