01/08/98 - 1479

Letter from Suhotra Swami

USA (VNN) - (Update VNN Story #1462) Letter from Suhotra Swami:

Hare Krsna. The exchange of letters Gauridasa Pandita Prabhu refers to, in which he says I apologized to him for an article I wrote that appeared in an ISKCON Journal of some ten years ago, was not just a simple matter of him writing me one letter and me replying with one letter. Though I haven't retained them in my files, I recall we exchanged three letters between us. And I recall that Gauridasa Pandita broke off the exchange because I maintained that I could not take seriously his claim that Srila Prabhupada wanted the posthumous rtvik system. I have to admit that my recollection of this exchange is not very clear.

It is quite possible I did apologize to Gauridasa for something like my having come to a conclusion about him from a distance in that ISKCON Journal article. I relied upon correspondence that Tamal Krsna Maharaja showed me, but I did not seek out and include Gauridasa's response. Even though I believe him misled--probably by a "false memory" (a term used to designate a psychological phenomenon that is getting quite a bit of attention these days; see for example the bestselling *Victims of Memory* by Mark Pendergrast)--I still feel unhappy about treating Gauridasa Pandita or any Godbrother impersonally and dismissively. I would much prefer meeting devotees like him in person, away from the media stage, to discuss their differences with ISKCON privately. But Gauridasa had already made public his views in *Vedic Village Review* and other forums... so as Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura said, once the dance has begun, there's not much use in drawing the veil.

Anyway, though it is likely that I did extend him some sympathy, I did not retract the basic logic of the article, which was: it is very curious that in the years of Gauridasa's exchange of correspondence with Tamal Krsna Gosvami--an exchange that concluded only days before Gauridasa publicized his claim to have personally heard Srila Prabhupada tell Maharaja that he wanted the posthumous rtvik system established after his departure from this world--there is *no* mention of this monumental instruction of His Divine Grace that, of all disciples, *only* Gauridasa and Tamal allegedly received together in 1977. All the letters I saw from Gauridasa to Tamal expressed Godbrotherly fondness and respect. How is it that suddenly, only days after writing the last such letter, Gauridasa went public with a portrayal of Tamal as a suppressor of the truth and a misleader of ISKCON?

Though I do not support holding Gauridasa up to public ridicule, logic impells me to retain serious doubts about the objective reality of his memory of what Srila Prabhupada said to Tamal and he in 1977. I can readily concede, on the basis of what I know about FMS (False Memory Syndrome), that Gauridasa may sincerely believe his memory to be veridical. But there is good reason for me to view his claim in terms of psychology rather than factual history.


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