Answer the Challenge or Step Down
From Bhakta das, Bangkok, Thailand
8 September 1994
Dear Srila Trivikram Maharaja:
Please accept my most humble obeisances at your feet. All glories to His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada!
In connection with the final point in your last letter, i.e. “You will show your love for me by how much you co-operate together” [Srila Prabhupada’s words], isn’t it important to consider why 90 percent of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples have NO CONNECTION with their father’s house any longer??
I mean, Maharaja, I did not willingly leave the shelter of ISKCON. I was told to get out and “die” by one of the eleven appointed acharyas. Another condemned me to become a mouse. Another told me that if I did not hand over my business interests and work under him, I would have no connection with Srila Prabhupada. Another told me that he was the only bona fide representative of Lord Chaitanya on this planet. Want me to go on?
I mean, Maharaja, how can I have confidence in the leadership of today’s modern ISKCON society when some of these same men are still in the positions of power that they have held since December, 1977?
Is it not important to see the history and answer the doubts expressed by Yashodanandan, Puranjana, Guru Kripa and even Hansadutta? I have never seen a complete, coherent rebuttal of their clear arguments. I have seen partial rebuttals to some points, but it seems that those in power have no interest in actually doing their homework on the questions which cause so many of us to keep our distance from the mainstream of ISKCON.
I mean, right now the GBC says that active homosexuals, child molesters, drug abusers, etc. were part of our perfect and pure sampradaya. How does this philosophy fit in with the PARAMPARA which preceded us? I have never seen a single reference to a bona fide acharya being implicated in child sex, young boy sex and so many other activities one would expect from an ordinary, conditioned soul, but not from a self-effulgent, realised soul residing at the lotus feet of Sri Sri Radha Krishna.
Last year, you may know, we offered $108,000.00 in cash to any member of ISKCON’s governing body to step forward and publicly debate with Yashodanandan, Hansadutta, myself and Guru Kripa, the validity of the guru-tattva philosophy now popular amongst the governors of legal ISKCON. We had the cash, but not one of your acharyas showed up for the challenge. I believe the challenge is still open, but no one of these perfectly realised men is willing or able to defend their own position in a public forum. There are examples in our history of acharyas being challenged and even their young disciples were able to kick the butts of the challengers and make them run away in shame.
I do not claim to be a great debater or even a “shastra chakshu”, but I know that Yashodanandan, Puranjana, Hansadutta, Guru Kripa and numerous others far more learned than I are ready at any time. If they are defeated, then they are ready to submit themselves at the feet of the conqueror and become his menial servants.
Mostly the points they make are ignored completely, and sentimental ideas about “co-operation” are espoused.
It seems logical that if Srila Prabhupada is our father, then his estate should have been equally distributed amongst all his sons and daughters. Instead, a few men seized the entire estate, killed their family members and now say, “Why don’t you co-operate?” Is it not ludicrous?
Don’t tell me Yashodanandan is not a sincere soul. Don’t tell me Guru Kripa is not a sincere soul. Hansadutta fell down badly, but he’s dragged himself back. He’s publicly admitted his mistakes, he has publicly begged for the forgiveness of the devotees, and I am convinced that he has been blessed again by the Vaishnavas and by Srila Prabhupada, Lord Chaitanya and Sri Sri Radha Krishna.
His point, and the point of all of us, is that ISKCON’s gurus have the tendency to think too much of themselves and to diminish and negate the incredibly exalted position which Srila Prabhupada has for the next 10,000 years.
We don’t really care if you want to call yourselves guru, buru, rittvik priest, servant of the servant of the servant or whatever, but to see yourselves as being as good as the sum of all the demigods when you are still under the influence of the three gunas is insane.
I see the disease of desire for profit, recognition, distinction in my own heart, and it is poison which kills bhakti. I fight it day by day by performance of very straight-laced sadhana bhakti. I dread those days when someone is flattering me and my silly mind starts to take myself seriously. I mean, who are we, Maharaja? Where did we come from? Srila Prabhupada never singled any one of us out, saying, “He is a paramahamsa. Everyone may follow him when I am no longer with you.” He never said anything like that. He said that we are all more or less the same. Knowing my own mind, I can understand somewhat that others must face the exact same challenges on the road as I do?
For the last two years, I have listened every single morning to one hour of classes by Srila Prabhupada. His beautiful life-size murti sits in front of me, with the tape player directly behind him. He has his garlands and tilak. I have his lectures in book form, which I can read as I listen. I know that today I am getting far more direct association and direct instruction from Srila Prabhupada than I ever did between 1969 and 1977, when he departed for Goloka. How can anyone say that he is not the guru today as he was then? Isn’t our whole process based upon hearing from the perfectly realised soul and repeating and acting upon what we hear??? Is not this the process? Is not this submissive hearing in fact DIKSHA, or the imparting of divya-jñana?? Where in any shastra, any lecture or any letter does Srila Prabhupada say one must have a flesh and stool guru? I have never heard it, and I have heard the contrary repeatedly. It is a myth that one must have a flesh and stool guru. He must accept a guru, no doubt, but not an imperfect guru who is subject to the four defects. No, that kind of guru cannot take us to our destination.
I am daily seeing how people’s lives are changed forever by simply sitting with Prabhupada’s lecture books, reading the class and listening to him simultaneously. It is extremely powerful preaching. I would suspect that were ISKCON “gurus” focusing their energy on how to bring millions of souls to do this, instead of how to bring them to hear their own imperfect lectures, how fast the Krishna consciousness movement would spread!
Why can’t we all do what we always did?? That is, bring the conditioned souls to hear from Srila Prabhupada, teach them how to obey Srila Prabhupada, and become his humble servants???
Always begging for your kindness, tolerance and mercy…
Your humble servant,