From Kelilalita devi dasi,
Port Angeles, Washington
23 March 1994
Dear Hansadutta das:
Hare Krishna! Please accept my obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!
Thank you for your letter. I was happy to read how enthusiastic you are for purely distributing the holy name and glorifying Srila Prabhupada. Your ideas for preaching seem practical, and I’m sure Krishna will give you all intelligence to carry out your plans.
As far as my mailing list goes, I promised everyone that I wouldn’t give out their names. In the past, several others had also requested my list, so I wrote my subscribers to see if they minded. A large enough majority said no, so I just decided not to give any out. It’s not so hard to understand why. I’m sorry I can’t help you in this way.
I’m doing fine. I feel Krishna has something planned for me up here in the far Pacific Northwest. It’s exciting and scary at the same time to see how things are all going to come out.
Last weekend I went to Victoria to visit the devotees. They have a big house close to the university. There are 7-8 people who live there. They go on hari-nama every Saturday and have a Sunday feast with about 40 guests. It’s a homey, personal atmosphere—nice preaching.
I hope this finds you and your family happy in KC and always at the lotus feet of our beloved spiritual master, father, friend and guide, Srila Prabhupada! I wish you well in your efforts.
Kelilalita devi dasi
From Dhanesvara das
5 May 1994
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada. Thanks for your participation in the Directory. I am happy to run your personal listing, but I cannot run your ads. I am keeping the editorial content to that which is in keeping with the “official” ISKCON. Sorry, I know you won’t agree, but although I like you as a friend, I disagree with the tactic you are taking on all this. I also do not subscribe to the rittvik philosophy. I hope that you will reconsider what you are doing.
I offered some advice to you several years back when we talked in LA sitting in your car. Remember? Why not just try pursuing a low profile and simple sadhana? Stop crying “poor me.” After all, you’re the one who has created the whole situation! Try to re-read Srimad-Bhagavatam Fourth Canto about Lord Shiva’s rift with Daksha—maybe some lesson in there that you can appreciate.
From Hansadutta das,
3 September 1994
Dear Dhanesvara Prabhu:
Please accept my most humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
Thank you for including our personal listing. I did not think you could publish my two advertisements for Srila Prabhupada, His Movement & You and Excommunicated, Uncommunicated, Incommunicado, because of your official ISKCON editorial policy.
I also think of you as a good friend and well-wisher. You are correct when you say, “After all—you are the one who has created the whole situation.” Therefore I am trying to rectify that unfortunate creation by publishing Srila Prabhupada, His movement and You.
To accept Srila Prabhupada’s last written doctrine to his leading disciples—”Act as rittvik of the Acharya”—means to be on the safe side, following the order of the spiritual master verbatim, without interpretation, speculation or doubt. But to interpret and presume to know better than the spiritual master is dangerous. In other words, it is safer to be foolish before the spiritual master than to think one’s self over-intelligent. Even Lord Chaitanya posed Himself as foolish and accepted the order of His spiritual master to simply chant Hare Krishna as if He were a neophyte devotee, unfit for study of Vedanta. What harm can there be in being humble and accepting Srila Prabhupada’s order to act as rittvik of the acharya?
It worked well while Srila Prabhupada was with us, and now that everyone has assumed the role of guru-acharya. everything is in chaos and confusion. I hope you are well.
P.S. Yes! I did read, as you suggested, the incident of Lord Shiva and Daksha, and it has reinforced my conclusions and convictions.
From Basu Ghosh das, Bombay, India
8 May 1994
Dear Veda Guhya Prabhu:
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!
It has been many months since we met at Vrindaban on the occasion of the annual observance of Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance. Since then, I honestly had meant to write to you many times, but it didn’t happen. I hope you will pardon me for that. Not only did I want to send you the enclosed pictures of yourself that I took at the temple, but I wanted to express my “humble” (I know I’m a puffed-up rascal) opinions on the “rittvik idea.”
I continue to hesitate to accept the idea, not based only on my own reflection on the issue, but also from discussions that I have had with learned scholars (some of whom are not in ISKCON and not in our Sampradaya) and devotees.
Of course, it is a fact that Srila Prabhupada never appointed a successor. It is also an unfortunate fact that many unqualified persons became “guru” in ISKCON and created havoc for their “disciples” as well as themselves.
I know that there are logical points on both sides of the issue. But from my philosophical inquiries and “investigation” into this, the conclusion seems to point to some kind of “living guru,” one who is present or “prakat” before our vision (although it may be material vision). The reasoning is that:
1. It is the accepted tradition to accept both “diksha” and “shiksha” from a “prakat” guru. It is accepted not only in Gaudiya Sampradaya, but in all of the other three Vaishnava Sampradayas. We have no example of a “rittvik” guru in Vaishnava history.
2. Srila Prabhupada’s writings “taken on a whole,” quite clearly indicate the need of a “prakat” guru. It is therefore that he has written in the Upadeshamrita that a kanishta or a madhyama devotee can also initiate. Otherwise, he would have, in all his wisdom, clearly indicated that a “rittvik guru” would have been the most acceptable alternative.
3. A great, powerful acharya adapts Krishna bhakti and Krishna consciousness to desh, kal and patra (time, place and circumstances). Agreed. However, the basic tenets (viddhis or methods) are not changed. There are many examples in history of this.
Srila Prabhupada was quite clear on how a disciple should “surrender” to the guru and how he must “follow his instructions.” To the best of my very limited understanding, the problems (that have created a doubt about the position of the guru) have arisen from a violation of the “position” and/or “responsibilities” that go along with being a guru. Sorry to use this corny cliché, the rittvik guru answer to this problem seems to be the case of “throwing away the baby with the bath water.”
How, then, to stop the abuse of the position of guru? This would seem to be the question. Of course, the GBC is charged with the responsibility of “monitoring” the ISKCON institution. The ultimate responsibility seems to rest with them. On a subjective level, we must be able, by “composite” understanding of Vaishnava Siddhanta, to distinguish between someone who is sincerely guiding innocent and ignorant souls on the path of Krishna bhakti and a cheater who is only after name, fame and sense gratification and makes a show of being a guru to obtain these material objects.
The “cheating guru” profession seems to be as old as any other profession. Hence Srila Prabhupada’s pointing out that a sincere person is sent to a sincere guru (by Krishna within the heart as Paramatma), and one who wants to be cheated will be sent to a “cheating guru.” But why eliminate the guru? There may be different levels of teachers in the educational system—but teachers are required nonetheless for all types of students. The function of the guru is like that, is it not?
Anyway, Prabhu, I very much enjoyed visiting with you last year—especially the nice prasad. Once again I am coming to the USA. I am leaving tomorrow from Bombay to the Middle East, London and then Washington D.C. is my first destination in the US around the end of June. Maybe I can visit you at that time, and then you can really give me the sauce!
I hope this meets you and your family in the best of health and jolly spirits.
Basu Ghosh das