Dear Sripada Candrasekhara Swami,
Please accept my humble obeisances in remembrance of my Divine Masters.
It was kind of you to call me and follow up with your written invitation to celebrate Srila Prabhupada’s avirbhava with you at 26 Second Ave. I appreciate this gesture initiated by His Holiness Sripada Jayadvaita Swami, one of my long time friends.
If I had been asked to speak to the participants I might have considered this a preaching opportunity. But I was not and, therefore, hardly see the point of my attending as I already know what to expect and do not see any benefit for myself or Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math Global, the Mission I represent. I will extend these remarks by asking, in light of them, what benefit would there be for others should I attend?
When we spoke by phone I inquired a bit into the history of your sannyasa which, as it turns out, is a confused state of affairs where no confusion should be present. One should have a clear conception of his sannyasa guru and the quality of the mantram he has received as it is intended to elevate one to the highest stage of devotional service. And yet you were unconcerned and uninterested in clearing away the doubts and confusion that would naturally be invested in any person of conscience. Thus, I perceive you as being content to continue in this way, as are your fellow travelers in ISKCON[*] who have adopted the policy that the society will save them when, in fact, the only salvation lies in hearing from and following the direction of pure devotees. There are, to be sure, counter arguments to the one I’m making. I think I have heard them all and with each hearing find them substantially misleading, deficient and defective. They do not support the sort of surrender and dedication expected of one like yourself who, having accepted the order of sannyasa, should exemplify the “all risk, no gain” policy enunciated by our Lord when He told Arjuna “sarva dharman parityaja . . . .”
Most likely you will recoil, possibly with anger, at these remarks of mine. That is the usual reaction when I speak things such as these to members of ISKCON. They immediately respond by ousting me from their association and then shunning me. This leads me to offer a bit of my own history for your consideration as you seem to be unaware of it.
I received first and second initiation from Srila Prabhupada. In 1981, after learning of the close relationship and mutual respect enjoyed between Srila Prabhupada and Srila Sridhara Maharaja and hearing Srila Prabhupada’s direction to go to Srila Sridhara Maharaja for further spiritual guidance after his departure, I did as he directed. I also resolved to seek sannyasa initiation from him after learning he had given sannyasa to Sripada Keshava Maharaja who, in turn, gave that same mantra to our Srila Prabhupada. In the latter part of 1981 I received the sannyasa mantra from Srila Sridhara Maharaja. When this became known to the GBC they reacted in the ways described above, ousting, shunning, etc. The same happened with others who, soon after me, received sannyasa and/or other initiations from Srila Sridhara Maharaja. The GBC carried their actions too far by speaking lies about and making offenses against His Divine Grace Srila Sridhara Maharaja. While they readily approved the reading and publishing of books authored by their peers (Maharaja’s Satsvarupa, Hrdayananda and later others like Maha Niddhi, Banu, etc.) they forbid the reading of books by Srila Prabhupada’s esteemed Godbrother, Srila Sridhara Maharaja about whom Srila Prabhupada had said, for example, (paraphrasing) “Others may translate Srimad Bhagavatam, but only Sridhara Maharaja can comment.” The absurdity and offensive behavior of the GBC knew no bounds and naturally permeated through, and became ubiquitous within, the whole of ISKCON.
Those of us who had faith in both Srila Prabhupada and Srila Sridhara Maharaja could no more tolerate offenses to the latter than we could to the former.
After Srila Sridhara Maharaja’s disappearance the GBC adopted a more moderate posture but the poison had already spread too far and they had no antidote to offer. Thus, even as recently as the last year and a half I was informed of these words written by an ISKCON guru to one of his disciples:
“In my last email , I clearly told you that iskcon members are not to associate with , or read the books of the Gaudiya Math. It seems you do not accept my instructions in this regard.
You should know that Sridhar and Govinda gave initiation to disciples of Prabhupada and his disciples in good standing.
By association of these persons, your Bhakti Lata Bija will be destroyed and, as your guru, I would be implicated also.
The choice before you is simple, stand by your diksa vows by maintaining chastity to the real parampara that you belong to or, leave iskcon and that connection behind.”
In February of this year I was invited to join a facebook group known as “Srila Prabhupada’s Disciples, My Godbrothers & Godsisters”, which advertised itself as being “a FB Directory for all of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples.” Apparently “all of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples” did not include me. Within 48 hours I was informed my comments would no longer be posted and I was banned from the group.
Perhaps now you can understand why I see no profit in attending your function. You are, no doubt, well intentioned, as is Sripada Jayadvaita Maharaja, but I think you are not aware of or have not carefully considered our histories (mine and ISKCON’s) and the tendency for history to repeat itself.
If you think I am in error in my analysis, I will consider any rebuttal you, Jayadvaita Maharaja or any other person would like to offer.
I also invite you to call or visit me at any time of our mutual convenience.
I pray this finds you well in health and spirits.
Swami B.K. Giri
Cc: Sripada Jayadvaita Swami
[* ISKCON requires its members to remain in doubt and confusion throughout a wide spectrum of spiritual subjects ranging from the original position of the jiva soul to Sri Guru, whose function is to deliver the jiva from all doubt and confusion. Those who seek out or actually achieve clarity on these matters are banished and barred from further contact with ISKCON members in the manner described in the above quotation from one of its gurus.]