United We Stand
Singapore, 5 November 1993
Dear Rahugana das:
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
I think we agree in all respects, except perhaps there is some lingering apprehension due to my use of language and my intentions. I know that Prabhupada wanted his disciples to be gurus. He once said precisely that to me in Sweden. “I am training you to be perfect, I’m training you to be guru.” But on his departing, he saw the training was incomplete, so he made some conditional gurus, “rittviks“, like apprentices or on-the-job training. In fact, I used to think of it in that way, even then. I’m sure in time all will become pure devotees and thus guru, but it will take CATHARSIS—a lot of CATHARSIS for some, less for others.
Regarding Srila Sridhar Swami and Sri Govinda Maharaja, I agree that Krishna can manifest through anyone, and he certainly does so. The real underlying point of my insistence on Srila Prabhupada being accepted as the Sampradaya Acharya is that it is necessary to have a perfect central person, Shaktavesh Avatar, if we want to organize the entire Vaishnava community world-wide into one effective preaching mission. To point out and accept Srila Prabhupada as that pre-eminent Sampradaya Acharya does not mean there will be no pure devotees or even acharyas. That is not the point. There will be gurus, acharyas and sadhus of all calibers, from the highest to the most neophyte. The Founder-Acharya is distinguished from all others inasmuch as he sets a milestone in the evolution or progress of the Sampradaya, as Vyasadeva did by compiling the Vedas, which before him were passed down by hearing and chanting. It was never done before. Similarly, Prabhupada took the essence of those Vedas, Bhagavad-gita, Srimad-Bhagavatam, Chaitanya-charitamrita and Bhaktirasamrita-sindhu outside of India, presented them in such a way that the lowest of human beings could understand and practice them in daily life. Therefore he is Acharya and for all practical purposes (preaching world-wide Vaishnava mission), we must (pure or impure devotees) rally around him, as the great commanders rally around the “Commander-in-chief,” in order to give unity, harmony and direction to the preaching mission world-wide.
Perhaps in my euphoria and new-found life—spiritual life—I may sound or appear a bit fanatic. I have tried to express myself with all logic, reason and authoritative quotations. Your warning about Vaishnava aparadha is well taken. My determination is not to confront or offend. But I also think that if a devotee is actually pure, transparent and without personal ambition, he must recognize the principle of submission and service under the authority of the Sampradaya Acharya. Otherwise, why have a Sampradaya? Everyone can simply conduct their mission individually as they see fit. My impression of Prabhupada’s efforts is always that he wanted a UNITED Vaishnava community, not many small, separate temples or maths without orchestrated cohesion and direction. Without uniting under the Acharya, everyone’s effort remains provincial and without direction. That was how the British took over India. Each prince or king was pulling on independently, sometimes at odds with neighboring princes or kings. So by flattery the British could easily win them over, one by one, setting one against the other. Had they been united under one EMPEROR, this could never have happened. Similarly, what the emperor is to princes and kings world-wide (like Yudhisthira), the Founder-Acharya is to gurus, sadhus and even acharyas. You say Prabhupada is Shaktavesha Avatar, so all the more reason to act under his auspices. That is my real point. I never said there are no gurus or pure devotees (some, of course, are definitely NOT gurus ), but I say they should unite. That is possible under Prabhupada, the Sampradaya Acharya—unless you have someone more qualified. Your letter inspired me. “But united we stand, divided we fall.” Thank you.
Your humble servant,
P.S. I think you have to think a little deeper on what you call “the Christian ideas.” The idea of following Christ under the guidance of an apostle or priest is actually Vedic in every way. In fact, in Seattle (October, 1968) Srila Prabhupada remarked, “One is the disciple of Christ, if he follows his
instructions under the guidance of some priest.”
Perhaps it is my German nature, but the compulsion for world-wide harmony under one Sampradaya Acharya (Führer ) obsesses me. Prabhupada injected this vision into our blood and over and above everything else that is my concern in writing and wrangling with my god-brothers. I could stay holed up in Cloverdale if it was simply a matter of maintaining some semblance of a preaching program. But this is not what Prabhupada wanted from us, at least not from me.
Therefore, having said my piece, I am now going forward positively and doing what I think will bring about unity in diversity, under the lotus feet of Srila Prabhupada. I am not for or against anyone, but I see my function, my service to Srila Prabhupada as our effort to draw everyone’s attention to this important conclusion.
Your letter is great, inspiring, very thoughtful and also kind. Thank you. Continue to be so bold and let me know your thought. ” Dhadati prati grinati.” Revealing the mind, Vaishnava association. There is nothing more blissful than that. Look forward to seeing and speaking with you, Nada, Gauranataraj. Express on the way.