Saturday, September 10, 2016

Srila Prabhupada is still our leader (Rakshana Das)

Who is our connection to Krishna?

Srila Prabhupada is still our leader and we are all his followers

(Rakshana Dasa)

We have all surrendered to Lord Krishna due to the mercy and kindness of Srila Prabhupada. Every devotee in ISKCON and even those in other mathas owe immense gratitude to Srila Prabhupada. Only a perfectly pure devotee can do what Srila Prabhupada did. To this day, Srila Prabhupada continues to enlighten, inform and guide anyone who sincerely follows him. He is accessible, reciprocal and personally present in the lives of his followers. People who think otherwise are extremely unfortunate, and we pray they may come to their senses soon.

We learn by hearing, and hearing from a pure unalloyed devotee is best of all. Words are what we hear, and Srila Prabhupada's books are words of the perfect acharya in book form. These words are so important that Srila Prabhupada stressed many times that every moment should be dedicated to hearing and chanting about the names, forms, qualities and pastimes of the Lord. He encouraged his followers to read and discuss the books at every available opportunity. Our senses are not entirely limited. Just as we can picture someone within our mind, even they may be far away, so we can hear by reading, even though the speaker and words are within books.

Srila Prabhupada blessed all sincere followers to continue the parampara tradition. He hoped some would become uttama adhikari, unalloyed devotees with the full capacity to initiate and guide their own disciples, ultimately taking them all the way back home, back to Godhead. There are two types of uttama adhikari Vaishnavas: those who descend directly from the spiritual world, and those who attain perfection by service and surrender to such persons.

In the meantime, and until an uttama adhikari manifests, he has provided an opportunity for others to act as "functionary diksha initiators" in order to continue the parampara. These souls can initiate, instruct and lead by delivering followers to the shelter of Srila Prabhupada's lotus feet. A capable madyama adhikari, while unable to fully deliver their disciples due to insufficient guidance, can still assist initiated disciples on the path back home by leading them to Srila Prabhupada. As they aren't on the topmost platform, honest madyama gurus will never accept worship on a level that is reserved solely for unalloyed pure devotees. Anyone who accepts worship above their station in life is called a pretender.

Kanishta adhikari devotees can never be initiating spiritual masters, although even they are given ample opportunity to preach Krishna consciousness according to their level of understanding and realisation. The above categories are equally applicable to men, women, old, young, black, white etc etc...such is the mercy of Lord Krishna and Srila Prabhupada. In other words, we can all be gurus to one degree or another, and Srila Prabhupada wanted that.

Some of the above points are delineated in a conversation with Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada and Rajen Babu in 1934.

Rajen Babu: Isn’t the kanistha-adhikari qualified to give initiation into the mantra?
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati: Where is the kanishtha-adhikari coming from? Who gave him the adhikara? A kanishtha-adhikari can never become a guru.
Rajen Babu: Can a madhyama-adhikari give diksa?
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati: He can only perform the initial duties of diksa. It is the uttama-adhikari maha-bhagavata Vaisnava who is actually the diksa-guru. There are two types of Vaisnavas – the ragatmika and the raganuga. Those who are from the eternal realm offer service to Sri Krsna directly. These ragatmikas serve Sri Varshabhanavi and Her direct expansions. Those who perform direct service to the ragatmikas and take shelter in them through the performance of smarana are raganugas. These are spiritual gurus.

Quoted from August 8th 1934, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Q&A with Sriyukta Rajendranath Pal Chaudhuri Mahasaya, the famous Zamindar of Louhajang.

If the leaders of ISKCON simply understood the above categories and acted accordingly, much damage to the lives of past and present devotees will begin healing, and future devotees can flourish. The good reputation (beyond mere public relations) of Srila Prabhupada's ISKCON will also be restored. There is no need for debate, as there isn't even one quote from Srila Prabhupada stating that anyone less than an uttama adhikari guru can deliver their disciple from the cycle of repeated birth and death. The perfection of a conditioned soul madyama guru is in guiding followers to the shelter of Srila Prabhupada. Deliverance is then possible for everyone.

The reckless behaviour of conditioned souls who pretend to be liberated can be likened to a bunch of drunks on roller-skates ...they fall down, dragging their followers down with them. The initiators of the “lost generation 1977-86”, are basically out of the picture, but newer gurus are still trying the same approach ...with the same results. 

A conditioned soul may pretend to be an uttama adhikari guru, but the result will only be a single-generational disciplic non-succession that is soon forgotten. We are seeing this phenomenon in ISKCON already.

Please excuse my less than glowing appraisal of the situation, but as a member of the lost generation I have a right to be extremely disappointed. I don't know everyone, and there may well be gurus in ISKCON who are sincerely guiding followers to the greater and safe shelter of Srila Prabhupada. If so, I offer my obeisances and thank you for that. 

For those new devotees seeking senior association and initiation, it's a case of “buyer beware”. In any case, the person we accept and serve as our primary source of inspiration and guidance is to be considered our spiritual master. Choose an uttama adhikari guru and be safely situated.

Thanks to Srila Prabhupada and some rare honest and faithful followers, our future is very bright. Srila Prabhupada is the most recent of 32 major acharyas coming in disciplic succession from Lord Krishna, and he remains with us today. For many of us, attraction to serving Srila Prabhupada is natural. He is the directly empowered representative of Lord Krishna, and as such, can instruct any follower according to the spiritual system. The guidelines and instructions Srila Prabhupada provided are available for all sincere followers.

Attraction to Srila Prabhupada, in connection with Lord Krishna, can in some ways be compared to Prahlada Maharaja's mood, spoken in his childhood, in Srimad-Bhagavatam: Canto 7.5.14
“ iron attracted by a magnetic stone moves automatically toward the magnet, my consciousness, having been changed by his will, is attracted by Lord Vishnu, who carries a disc in His hand. Thus I have no indedpendence.”

The difference in potency between uttama adhikari and other devotees is as wide as the creation itself. An uttama adhikari devotee can do things that no one else can. An example: Srila Prabhupada can accept our offerings of foodstuffs even though he resides far away in Goloka Vrindavan. A conditioned soul, on the other hand, would need to be in the same room to know what is on the plate, what to speak of taste or eat it.

Srila Prabhupada wanted us to use our intelligence in devising ways and means to attract people to Krishna consciousness. His mission is the deliverance of fallen conditioned souls. His instructions are the guidelines we follow to assist him in achieving this goal. However, our preaching strategies must align with those of Srila Prabhupada.

Changes by conditioned devotees have resulted in ISKCON becoming increasingly impotent, to the degree that many temples resemble watered-down Westernized Hinduism. And thus much of the current preaching strategy is aimed toward mundane welfare work; Hindu social clubs, weddings and car blessings; or feel-good sentiment. The congregation has increased at the expense of purity, and many temples are now more like show-bottle representations rather than a living, breathing example of true Vaishavism. It's getting a bit embarrassing, don't you think?

This trend is all too obvious when noting the selfish greed that now permeates ISKCON, where so-called leaders amass private wealth, and devotees living within temples or employed by ISKCON are paid wages used primarily for their own material objectives. 

This alone has been enough to derail ISKCON. Imagine what could have been achieved without such self-centered greed. Imagine what could be done, as in the early days, when devotees were encouraged to live in temples and sacrifice everything for the pleasure of the Lord, as instructed by Srila Prabhupada. This is but one scenario among dozens where the words and instructions of Srila Prabhupada have been changed, ignored or compromised, resulting in a fractured ISKCON with the ultimate goal almost totally obscured.

Of course, grhastas living and earning outside are a different category. They need money to facilitate their family life, and have the opportunity to dedicate what they can toward missionary activities. As mentioned by Srila Prabhupada, paraphrased in my own words as I can't find the exact quote, “Work hard, live simply and dedicate the results in service to the Lord. That is the secret of success.”

I could go on, but I won't. Most of you don't know me and are therefore uninterested in hearing from a nobody. But I do want to take a moment to thank those of you who inspire me with their dedication to follow and promote the teachings of Srila Prabhupada, while simultaneously calling-out those who alter the teachings to suit themselves. 

I pray that I can serve, assist and follow you to the shelter of Srila Prabhupada's lotus feet. Real devotee association remains the only hope for a fool such as me, and without it I would be lost. Thank you so much. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Your servant,
Rakshana das
PS: Excuse the length of this article. I tried but failed to adhere to my objective of following the guidance of one of my favourite slokas:

“Essential truth spoken concisely is true eloquence”. Sri Caitanya-caritamrta: Adi-lila, 1.106

[PADA: Thanks for submitting this essay Rakshana dasa, very nicely stated. 

ys pd ( ]

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