December 3, 1999 VNN5017 Comment on this story
Banned From Leading Kirtan
BY LOCANANANDA DAS
NEW YORK, Dec 3 (VNN) (from VNN Forums) Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!
The conversation I had with Dayananda Prabhu was so revealing as to the state of consciousness of the local leadership that I can still hardly believe what was said to me. Their complaint was that I did not seem to want to cooperate with the leadership committee, but I actually did not even know that such a committee existed. They said they did not want someone whose loyalty to the GBC was in question to lead any kirtans whatsoever, either in the temples or on Harinam. I replied that I was not interested in their politics and will join the kirtan of any devotees interested in chanting the Holy Name. Sectarianism and party feelings have no place in the execution of Lord Caitanya's order to chant the Holy Name in public for the benefit of the conditioned souls.
They said they did not approve of my wierd and spurious ideas, but they could not state what the ideas were that they disagreed with. They said their perception was that my main reason for wanting to lead kirtan was to have the adoration of new devotees.
I explained that Srila Prabhupada himself had asked me to lead kirtan and that he would be displeased with them for trying to take away my service simply because I am not willing to buy into their bogus guru worship program.
They mentioned that I have been seen fraternizing with some of the local ritvik book distributors. Of course, they have no idea what I was speaking with them about.
I was simply encouraging them to continue selling Srila Prabhupada's books.
After insulting me for nearly an hour, Dayananda Prabhu suggested that I try to work with the local leaders by becoming a member of their committee. I replied that I could not condone the harsh manner with which they deal with devotees or tolerate the continuous flow of vaisnava aparadha that spews out of the mouth of the local temple president. As the Goswamis would not stay in a place where devotees were being criticized, following their example, I cannot risk associating with "the leadership committee" in the polluted atmosphere created by their abuse of power.
The most recent examples of their mistreatment of devotees are:
1) The TP will not return the passport of an Indian devotee who cooked for the temple for several years but has been living outside of the temple for two months. He wants to return to India to see his family.
2) Several devotees of the ritvik persuasion were recently threatened with physical violence during a Sunday feast at the Brooklyn temple.
3) The temple now refuses to supply books to one lady whose husband is sympathetic to the ritvik cause. Another devotee, apparently with the approval of the leadership committee, has tried to take over her spot where she has been preaching in her own neighborhood for five years. He also tries to break up her sales by telling people that she is not a devotee of Krishna.
4) Another devotee who has ritvik connections and who had been a congregation member for 20 years before being initiated was told that he can no longer perform Deity service in the Brooklyn temple.
5) And then there is my situation: after leading kirtan for thirty years, I am now banned from Harinam and from giving class because I do not support the current system of initiations in ISKCON. They seem to have forgotten that many members of the GBC have admitted publicly that their system is still in need of reform. I have simply made a few suggestions as to which reforms should be introduced, all in line with Srila Prabhupada's direct instructions to the GBC.
Many godbrothers find these actions outrageous and preposterous, but I have to see this as Krishna's arrangement for me to find engagement with other groups of vaisnavas. Several devotees proposed that we should organize an independent Harinam party in New York City. We will be going out on Saturday, Nov. 27th for the first time. The devotees who espouse the ritvik concept have rented a very nice space in the Lower East Side which will serve as a wonderful preaching center, and they have kindly invited me to visit their center to lead kirtan and give class as often as possible.
I will keep you informed of any further developments.
Your servant, Locanananda Das
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