I witness some people who come to our temple and associate with us. I am confused as to how to deal with them. Everything is given in Prabhupada's books and teachings. Can I just give them the vedabase and Prabhupada's books? Some ask about ritvikism. Is it a good approach to ask them to find out about this on their own? The reason for my confusion is that if I give them the meaning, then I am interpreting the teachings. That would make me their authority, not Prabhupada. If I don't, others will misguide them. What to do?
[PADA: Unfortunately, leaving people to "find out things on their own" is not a very solid platform for them. They might find out the right idea, but then again they might never find the right idea, and get cheated. My platform has been to inform people -- that the GBC's "guru by election" process of "2/3 show of hands voting" for their conditioned souls as gurus is: defective; not authorized; not precedented; at best its mental speculation.
And its basically a repeat of the post 1936 Gaudiya Matha where they voted in all sorts of conditioned souls as gurus and Srila Prabhupada said none of them are authorized. The ritviks (Prabhupadanugas) are saying we need to worship Srila Prabhupada and that is the solid platform for them.
So yes, you can give them Srila Prabhupada's books and Vedabase, and let them connect up with the pure devotee by that process. This process is after all what he personally set up as far as we are concerned. He knew he would not be here physically forever, so he left us with his books and instructions to continue his presence here. And thus he is NOW physically present for us in his books and instructions, actually both now and for future newcomers to the religion.
To tell other people whom to take shelter as their guru of is not interpreting the religion, its directing people how to properly participate in the religion and link themselves to the parampara of the religion.
We have been preaching the idea that people should accept Srila Prabhupada as their acharya, and we have had at least some success locally and with other people all over the place who read our sites. We clearly recommend which process they should follow, and we think that is the way forward.
Apart from that, every religion tells their people whom they must accept and worship as their link to God, whether Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, or some guru from among the many Hindu gurus in India etc. There has to be a named person whom the people will worship as their acharya.
In fact, every religion has a clearly defined acharya that their people will worship. We really cannot conduct a religious society where there is no clearly identified source of diksha, guru, authority and final acharyopasanam shelter etc.
Of course, if we are dealing with the GBC's or Gaudiya Matha's disciples or followers, we might have to be a little patient, careful, if not diplomatic -- and present things a little bit on the subtle plane to feel their situations out.
There are a lot of fanatical and sentimental ideologies out there right now, so we need to tread carefully. Anyway, our idea is sort of winning de facto, the GBC's guru program is generally collapsing under its own weight and we are winning through the back door. And some of the biggest defenders of the GBC's guru process like Hari Sauri, Bhakta das, Hrdayananda, Badrinarayan, Anuttama, Ravindra Swarupa etc. seem to be losing credibility on a daily basis.
And at least dozens and dozens of people who were very critical our our idea of taking shelter of the pure devotee in the past, have gradually come around and told me more recently, "You had the right idea all along." Its taking time but our idea is gaining ground.
For example very recently, one person who was very critical of me wrote privately to tell me he wants to start working with our ideas and make a web site promoting our materials, and that is because -- there really is not much of a better idea out there -- thus people are sort of sinking into our idea as other ideas fall apart. Then again our idea is not really our idea, Krishna Himself says we need to take shelter of His Pure Devotee, and that is all there is to it in the end.
I hope this helps, ys pd]