Translate Talk to Action
From Dvarakadhisa das
7 December 1994
Dear Hansadutta das:
Hare Krishna. Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
Thank you for the Srila Prabhupada, His Movement and You publication. As far as I understand, I agree with your argument. After reading Srila Prabhupada’s books, I had accepted him as my guru. I viewed taking initiation from you as the appropriate, personal way to link up with Srila Prabhupada, the parampara and Krishna. I am grateful for all that you taught me, and your honesty in trying to preach according to your realisation. I appreciate your efforts to uncover the truth about the qualifications of a bona fide guru.
- Srila Prabhupada is the one guru we can all agree to serve.
- It is mature to see one’s self as the servant of Srila Prabhupada, rather than his successor.
- Devotees attracted by Krishna and Srila Prabhupada have been exploited by ambitious “gurus.”
- Srila Prabhupada’s assets are being misused—they are not being used to serve Srila Prabhupada.
The conclusion is that everyone, under all circumstances, should be encouraged to dive deep into the transcendental flow of the river of Srila Prabhupada’s instructions. If someone helps us in this endeavor, we should offer the appropriate respect due. But we should always remember that for such assistance we are not obliged to become blind followers to be exploited by such helper gurus for money, prestige or other material enjoyments in the name of Prabhupada and ISKCON. (Srila Prabhupada, His Movement and You, “ISKCON is like the Great Holy River Ganges”)
Pointing to the guru problem is not too difficult. Immature devotees have tried or are trying to fill the shoes of Srila Prabhupada, rather than trying to continue to follow in his footsteps. The rittvik solution you describe makes sense to me. I see guru as teacher, not boss. Devotional service is not limited to the authorization of ISKCON’s officers. We need a guru to understand what devotional service is and to help us apply the philosophy in our lives. A guru helps his disciples graduate from gurukula. “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; teach him how to fish, and feed him for a lifetime.”
I had not been around ISKCON “leadership” for a long time. I came away as expected. There seem to be some who recognize past mistakes about authority, devotee relationships, sankirtan and congregational development, but there also seem to be a few who won’t let go of their dying bureaucracy.
One devotee paraphrased your position, saying, “Hansadutta is saying no one can be guru, and Kirtanananda is saying only he is the guru.”
I hope that preaching will be re-focused to practical, congregational development, such as the Nama Hatta program. Our goal is not to get someone to follow our orders; rather, it is to train people to apply Krishna consciousness in their own lives. The western psyche is based on rugged individualism, free enterprise and material success. Most Westerners want the freedom to lead a self-determined life. “What’s in it for me?” is a legitimate question. People are seeking practical solutions, not philosophical debate.