10/21/1998 - 2392
Let The Senior Vaishnavas Have Their Say
Editorial (VNN) - by Parama Seva dasa
This is a reply to articles by Rishi Kumar dasa and Dhira dasi who wroteresponses to Locanananda Prabhu's heartfelt expositions on the subject ofinitiations in ISKCON.
Before getting into the heart of the matter, I'd like to make it clear justwho Locanananda Prabhu is. His Grace joined ISKCON in 1971 and offered hisapartment as the first temple in France (and perhaps continental Europe, I'mnot sure), a fact appreciated greatly by Srila Prabhupada in his letters. Thenhe donated funds to publish the first BBT publication in France, SriIsopanishad. He was also the first devotee to preach in Israel. Later heremained a staunch sankirtana devotee and served as temple president inAmsterdam and New York.
That being said, I have a few points to make. First of all, there is no use ingoing through a point by point dissection of your articles. When a seniordevotee offers his opinion on the matter of such a complex topic as Guru-tattva, we should not try to find faults. We are all eternally individuals andare entitled to our own thoughts and ideas. If you shout anyone down forexpressing his opinion then you will be engendering an atmospherecounterproductive to open forums. I could also find faults in your essays, butI am not going to quote myriad slokas to prove my point and show off how muchI pretend to know about the subject. By the way, Rishi Kumar's philosophy iscertainly controversial and he should not put it forth as an unquestionabletruth. I am not disclaiming his ideas, just saying that he should be carefulwhen he criticizes another and then proposes what is considered by many to beheresy. Is he so infallible that we should all disregard another vaishnava'sview and accept all that he says as gospel?
A proper forum for such ideas is a positive step and should be supported. Donot discourage devotees from expressing their convictions. Then you becomelike Nazis (no, there is no "t" in that word). Who are you to put yourselfforth as an authority? Do you really think that you fully understand Guru-tattva? Locanananda Prabhu certainly wrote in proper vaishnava form, so whyare you acting in such a haughty manner? We may not agree on all points, butlet's talk openly, truthfully, and honestly; then maybe we can come to anunderstanding.
Just to make a quick point, you say that HH Gaura-Govinda Swami's disciplesmay understand him to be a pure devotee and that we have no right to stopthem. That may be true in the present context, but a few months ago HarikeshaSwami's disciples felt the same way about their guru, so was it proper toencourage them to worship him like that? I feel that we should only encouragenew devotees to worship Srila Prabhupada as a pure devotee. Why should they beencouraged to accept a conditioned soul as infallible? Then what will happento their faith if such a person "bloops"? Frankly, when I participate inMangol Aroti or Guru Puja, it is Srila Prabhupada upon whom I meditate. Thepurports to those songs is so incredibly sublime, not just anyone fits thebill. Simply because Harikesha Swami's (or whoever) disciples wanted to viewhim as a liberated personality did not elevate him to that status.
I get the feeling that Dhira Mataji is suggesting that we find a pure devoteeand surrender to him. We keep hearing this over and over, first Jayatirtha,then Kirtanananda, then others outside of ISKCON. The list goes on. If you wish to find your shelter there, please be happy doingso. I wish you all success in your endeavors. However, I do not feel that thisis appropriate for ISKCON. Srila Prabhupada is the one who fulfilled SriCaitanya's prophecy of "Pritivite acche yata nagaradi grama" and frankly, hehas saved us. So, just twenty-one years after his departure, I do not see theneed to "replace" him with anyone else. After all, his vani was direct, easyto understand, and not in the least bit ambiguous. He also left us so manybooks, lectures, videos, letters, etc., to answer any conceivable question youmight have. How is it that devotees who enjoyed so much direct associationwith Srila Prabhupada suddenly need another guru? That doesn't seem like avery advanced mentality to me. "He lives forever by his divine instructionsand the follower lives with him," as Srila Prabhupada said about his GuruMaharaja.
I do not pretend to know just what was meant by "The War is Over" and I willnot speculate. It does seem obvious to me, however, that my Prabhu was puttingforth his convictions as a possible solution to the fratricidal war whichseems to be breaking apart our society. His purpose is without motivation andfor a good cause. Srila Prabhupada is the Jagat-Guru and we must alwaysremember that. Locanananda Prabhu once told me "The present gurus in ISKCONmay deserve some degree of respect -- but no matter how much you worship andglorify Srila Prabhupada, it could never be sufficient." So I am going to stayhere -- grand-disciple, second generation-disciple, fool, or whatever youchoose to call me -- and stick with Srila Prabhupada, the Patita-Pavana. WhenI read HDG's books, listen to his tapes, or see his Moonlike, smiling face inmy dreams, I know that he wants me to surrender to him and become Krishna-conscious that way.
Just one more thing, the "a" at the end of "Prabhupada" is purely semantic. Ifyou wish to write it correctly, then you should use the diacritics (or inDevanagari, preferably). Srila Prabhupada himself wrote letters to "Woomapatidasa " on his old typewriter. And we sometimes write Krishna with an "h,"which doesn't change the fact that it is a transcendental sound vibration.When we write in English, we are always approximating the Sanskrit anyway. Forexample, you seem to write "Rishi Kumar" with an "i" and an "h" although it isnot found that way in Srila Prabhupada's books. Is it that you are completelyignorant of the meaning of your spiritual name? We won't accuse you in such acondescending manner; it's just a different way to express one word in aforeign language. I, for one, have no idea who you are and what is yourauthority to criticize such a longtime follower of Srila Prabhupada. He willnot take offense, but I may. It seems as if you are really fishing foranything to support your ritvik philosophy. If you want others to listen toyou, it behooves you to put forth your ideas in a humble, vaishnava manner.That is what Locanananda Prabhu has done and that is why people are payingattention to him. Your holier-than-thou attitude undermines your efforts andonly reinforces popular misconceptions of the ritvik-vada.
Please take no offense to my observations, as none is intended.
Your most humble servant,
Parama Seva das(a)
PS. Locanananda Prabhu always expressed his desire to leave his body while onHarinama. Last year he almost had that opportunity when he suffered a heartattack in Bryant Park, NY. Even the doctors were surprised; "What was a man ofyour age doing dancing in the street?" So when such sincere devotees expresstheir opinions, they should be heard. I am sure all of these differences couldbe settled if we just pick up some cartals and have kirtana together. I knowthat Locanananda Prabhu and I are always game; are you?
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