Dear Sriman Hrdaya Krishna dasa,
Please accept my blessings and well-wishes in remembrance of my Divine Masters.
Yes, from time to time I can give classes on Sundays.
And yes, I quote my acaryas again and again, depending on the subject of the class.
While this is encouraging news, I am sure it violates the rules, laws and spirit the ISKCON GBC, as the ultimate ISKCON authority—both managerial and spiritual—promotes and demands of all those serving in ISKCON.
The preaching and guidance you are giving with reference to Their Divine Graces, Srila Sridhara Maharaja and Srila Govinda Maharaja must, therefore, take place only in the shadows and back alleys of ISKCON where it is tolerated while the prevailing view and governing doctrines of the GBC is that expressed directly below:
“Dear [disciple of the “ISKCON guru” being quoted]
Please accept my blessings, all glories to Srila Prabhupada!
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.
Whichever you decide, I wish you the very best and hope that you never forget the mercy that Srila Prabhupada gave you. For it is by his mercy that all the other Vaishnava missions still somehow continue to exist.”
In answer to the above I offer the following quotation:
Influenced by an envious temperament and dissatisfied because of an attitude of sense gratification, mundaners criticize a real ācārya. In fact, however, a bona fide ācārya is nondifferent from the Personality of Godhead, and therefore to envy such an ācārya is to envy the Personality of Godhead Himself. This will produce an effect subversive of transcendental realization.
—Bhaktivedanta Swami, CC Ādi 1.46, Purport
While you may think your local gurus and GBCs are exempt from the ideas and actions described in the email above, what the above referenced ISKCON guru wrote to his disciple is fully enshrined in, and supported by, the rules, laws and spirit of the ISKCON GBC to which all ISKCON gurus must swear an oath of allegiance to obey. Therefore, the lenient behavior presently shown by the GBCs under whose direction you are currently working is subject to change at any moment should the central GBC look more closely at their activities. In that event, the same GBCs currently showing you favor may, at the direction of the central GBC, immediately ban you from ISKCON and declare your association destructive due to being outside “the real parampara.” Should the local GBCs you mentioned refuse to take such action against you, the central GBC is free to remove the refusing GBC from his posts as GBC and guru, replace him with whomsoever it chooses (such as the guru writing the letter above) and even declare him a heretic, etc., thereby, barring any ISKCON devotee from associating with him. The central GBC has taken these actions with others, there is no reason to think they will not do the same with the GBC’s and gurus of Caracus.
A month after I received the above referenced email another was sent to me by a different “ISKCON devotee” who was initiated by one of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples now acting as an ISKCON guru. I can think of no reason to dispute the following portrayal of present day ISKCON, which was contained within his email to me:
ISKCON devotee: “Who is your guru?”
Vaishnava: “I was blessed to receive diksha from Srila B.R. Sridhardev Goswami.”
ISKCON devotee: “Isn’t he like bogus or something? Didn’t the GBC ban him? I mean, he’s not an ISKCON guru, right?”
So also ISKCON people use this line of questioning and when one isn’t initiated by a GBC approved person, then aparadha quickly follows… Narayan Maharaja, Govinda Maharaja, Paramadwaiti Maharaj, Narasingha Maharaja, and I’m sure you’re on that list too! But I think you get my point. People in ISKCON are not taught to properly discriminate. Guru-tattva as established by the GBC is apasiddhanta.
This statement of his “Guru-tattva as established by the GBC is apasiddhanta.” is insightful and accurate. You should know this if you are an attentive disciple of Srila Govinda Maharaja and are able to devote yourself to a careful study of the books and recordings of his and Srila Sridhara Maharaja available on our website. The attentive disciples of Srila Prabhupada Swami Maharaja know the truth of this statement, as it is apparent from a careful study of his books and other teachings. Unfortunately, most of them are either inattentive, ignorant or intentionally avoid points such as this which make clear ISKCON’s teachings are, in important respects, apa-siddhanta and apa-sampradaya.
If I, as a disciple of Srila Prabhupada, cannot believe ISKCON is able to deliver the pure spiritual teachings of Srila Prabhupada and his guru-varga and neither is it able to offer pure spiritual shelter for the jiva souls—opinions confirmed by Srila Sridhara Maharaja and Srila Govinda Maharaja and substantiated in shastra—how then can I believe it is a suitable place for their disciples? I do not believe it, and neither should you.
That said, you are free to believe what you want, but it will be a grave error on your part to have anything less than full faith in Srila Govinda Maharaja, who you should see as your only sure path to salvation.
This statement of yours: “I serve Sri Satyavesha Avatar Srila Prabhupada and the Vaisnavas.” utterly contradicts the very foundation of Gaudiya Vaishnava philosophy (gopī-bhartuḥ pada-kamalayor dāsa-dāsānudāsaḥ), was never taught by Srila Prabhupada and is symptomatic of ISKCON’s concocted philosophy that seeks to compensate for their lack of any real acharyas by instituting the propaganda that members of ISKCON who have not been directly initiated by Srila Prabhupada should imagine themselves as his servants rather than placing their full faith in their initiating guru. The obvious reason for this propaganda is that the GBC, having seen the downfall of many of the gurus they have promoted, have no real faith that the gurus they select are actually qualified. I agree with the GBC on this point. Therefore, I say ISKCON has not produced even one qualified acharya.
If ISKCON’s GBC members had faith in the gurus they promote to others, if they really believed these gurus were living examples of the statement:
ācāryaṁ māṁ vijānīyān
“One should know the ācārya as Myself and never disrespect him in any way. One should not envy him, thinking him an ordinary man, for he is the representative of all the demigods.”
they would do as Srila Prabhupada directed and serve as the managers of ISKCON by taking direction from the acharyas of ISKCON who would be seen and respected by them as the true bonafide spiritual heads of the society. Instead, they do the opposite. The managers, who are not accepted as being qualified to act as gurus, dictate the policies the so-called gurus and acharyas must follow. It is a topsy-turvy (upside down) system which, again, was never proposed or supported by Srila Prabhupada or any bonafide Gaudiya Acharya.
Srila Prabhupada makes clear the distinction between the qualities of a manager and that of an acharya:
Ramesvara: But still, after ten years the Gaudiya Math still has not learned.
Prabhupada: Hm? They cannot. They… Those who are intelligent, they are making something, Sridhara Maharaja and others. But this man was envious, this Tirtha Maharaja, because… He advertised that he is the only favorite student of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati. (laughs) But spiritually he was empty. Materially he was capable, how to manage things. But spiritually he was zero. That Prabhupada also knew and everyone knows. He had no spiritual understanding. Materially he helped Guru Maharaja how to organize. Therefore he liked him, that “This man is expert manager.”
—Conversation and Instruction On New Movie — January 13, 1977, Allahabad
I have given a great deal of thought to your situation which I see as most unfortunate. You asked Srila Govinda Maharaja what you should do. He told you to serve “the Math”, meaning him, directly. Instead you joined ISKCON and now say you are serving Srila Swami Maharaja directly.
You do not agree with the local leader of the SCS Math in Caracus and do not want to submit to him. Exactly why this is so, I do not know.
You said you are a brahmachari and I think you have also received brahman initiation. It is very difficult to live in the West as a brahmachari or sannyasi without the support of a spiritual organization. It is, however, not impossible.
Once I was in an untenable situation somewhat similar to yours. Srila Govinda Maharaja told me “Why don’t you work alone?” He was advising me to leave the bad association of Sripada’s Tripurari Swami and Narasingha Maharaja. I had already decided to do this but Srila Govinda Maharaja’s advice was very helpful in reenforcing my decision which was also fully supported by Srila Sridhara Maharaja.
I consider the association of those working under the direction of the ISKCON GBC to be bad association for the reasons mentioned above. Srila Sridhara Maharaja also spoke to this subject several times. Perhaps the most memorable was when he said this (referring to the ISKCON GBC):
At present that dollar, diplomacy, despotism in the name of devotion, dedication, divinity.
The God is within their fist, Krishna? They think like that? Rather the opposite they’ll have to think.
—End of 82.05.15.C_82.05.16.A
After Srila Govinda Maharaja’s disappearance a board titled “International Acharya Board” (“IAB”), comprised of five SCSM sannyasis, acting in direct violation of Srila Govinda Maharaja’s written Will, adopted the same behavior as that described above by Srila Sridhara Maharaja. And, like ISKCON’s GBC, they attempted to subjugate the six acharyas named by Srila Gurudeva to succeed him. Those “acharyas” that submitted to the IAB are seen by me as little different from the so-called ISKCON gurus.
Whatever your reasons may be for objecting to the leadership of the Caracus SCS Math they are, more or less, irrelevant to me. Because that Math is operating under the direction of Sripada Acharya Maharaja, who grievously violated Srila Gurudeva’s direct instructions for conducting the Mission in his absence, I advise you to avoid the bad association of those connected with that Math.
Following my advice closes the doors to associating with the only two organizations in Caracus you have mentioned (SCSM and ISKCON). This may seem a radical and impossible proposition. It is radical, but it is not impossible, so long as one has full faith in Sri Sri Guru Gauranga. As you know, Krishna offered very similar advice to Arjuna:
mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja
ahaṁ tvāṁ sarva-pāpebhyo
mokṣayiṣyāmi mā śucaḥ
Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear.
Surrender to Sri Gurudeva is non-different from surrender to Sri Krishna, except that the later is only possible via the first. That is, first there must be full surrender to Sri Guru. Only after that has taken place can surrender to Sri Krishna be established as an absolute fact.
If there is no one within your purview who you see as one fully surrendered to the shiksha of Srila Govinda Maharaja and, thereby, being fit to direct your activities, then, being fully surrendered to him yourself, you should work alone, having full faith in, and following, his direction. In doing this “Do not fear.”
I believe there is no better advice I can give than that which I have offered above. If you are preaching to others, telling them to accept the above direction of Sri Krishna, you are obliged to show the example through your own behavior.
I pray this finds you well in health and spirits.
Swami B.K. Giri