The Root Cause of All Problems: Disobedience
At the present moment in the Gaudiya Vaisnava Sampradaya there are a growing number of issues that indicate the breakup of the Sampradaya into a disparate array of sects. A sect is a group that breaks away from the parent organization due to a mood of rejection or disobedience of certain principles and practices of the parent.
Scriptural references show that the attainment of transcendental realization is predicated upon strict obedience to the instructions of a bonafide spiritual master. If an individual approaches a bonafide spiritual master and enters into a contract with him [initiation], and then refuses to follow his directions, there is no chance of that individual obtaining the results offered by the contract. The bonafide spiritual master is very dear to Lord Krishna and will not reveal Himself to anyone who is not first willing to serve His dearmost intimate associate with respect, submission and strict obedience.
Obedience to the spiritual master impresses Lord Krishna Who in turn purifies the disciple and allows him closer to His own Personal association. Vaisnava Philosophy and Religion is based on the absolute truth that Lord Krishna is pure and prophalacitic and will not allow any person into His association who is not similarly pure. He is the Supreme Master of all, therefore, the only persons He will allow in His association are those who are cent percent free of personal interest and thus fully surrendered to Him in pure devotional service. His litmus test requires that the disciple first show pure devotional obedience to His bonafide spiritual master, and then to Him, once the disciple is thus qualified.
At the present moment in the Gaudiya Vaisnava Sampradaya there are a growing number of issues that indicate the breakup of the Sampradaya into a disparate array of sects. A sect is a group that breaks away from the parent organization due to a mood of rejection or disobedience of certain principles and practices of the parent. This breaking away denotes the sectarian mentality of separation and idependence in the effort to avoid the offering of respect, submission and obedience to the parent.
The first sectarian issue of recent times was the disobedience of Srila Prabhupada’s Godbrothers to follow the instruction of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati to conduct the Mission cooperatively through the agency of a GBC. This created a sect that called itself the Gaudiya Math while in fact none of the Maths followed the GBC order. The currently existing Gaudiya Math cannot therefore be considered a member of the non-sectarian truth and vision given by the Authorized Acaryas. The disciple is excluded from the benefit of the contract as soon as he disobeys the spiritual master. Because of this disobedience Srila Prabhupada distanced himself from his Godbrothers and eventually forbade all of his disciples from having any association with them at all.
The second sectarian issue of recent times is the disobedience of the ISKCON GBC to follow the “Directions Of Management” given by Srila Prabhupada. The “Directions Of Management” outline one of the primary duties of the GBC as that of maintaining the principles and practices of the Sampradaya among the members of ISKCON. Another important instuction was that the GBC be elected every three years by the Temple Presidents. In reference to the total body of instuctions of Srila Prabhupada to the GBC one finds the GBC standing in disobedience of many key orders.In a very real sense this disobedience of the GBC has relegated ISKCON to the same status as the Gaudiya Math, that of sect.
In terms of the order to maintain the principles and practices of the Sampradaya the GBC has failed to establish a membership of strict obedience to the spiritual master and clear understanding of the philosophy and religion of the Sampradaya. As a result of this negligence the initiating spiritual masters of ISKCON have consistently offered initiation to individuals who actually do not accept the basic philosohical and religious tenets. The Gurus accept the service and material resources of these pseudo-disciples but fail to ensure that they understand and follow the principles and practices. What results is a core membership and fringe group that does not understand the meaning of strict obedience. In the wake of this deficiency arise such sectarian concepts as Prominent Link Theory and Ritvik Theory, to name but a few.
In such a sectarian society [an official sect] individuals dressed as Vaisnavas who do not accept or follow the principles are welcomed by the devotees in general as being significant and important. Not only are they given significance and importance but the devotees and leaders in many cases actually adopt their sectarian ideas and begin to apply them in real life. They are welcomed to the Temple programs to preach their deviant ideas, their articles are presented in the media and their books are eagerly read by nearly all.
In a society where the GBC had done its duty of protecting the principles there would be no toleration of such deviant individuals. They would not be accepted as disciples by the initiating spiritual masters. They would be ignored, verbally upbraided and given no credibility or platform of expression. In such a society the devotees in general would be trained to see through such flimsy concoctions and remain indifferent to their preaching efforts. Devotees thus established in the non-sectarian truth and vision of the Sampradaya would make it very clear to such individuals and groups that they are not authorized members of the Sampradaya.
From the logical point of view the problems of such issues as Prominent Link and Ritvik Theory are the creation of GBC disobedience and are fueled into growth by the general ignorance of the members. If one accepts that connection to the Sampradaya is effected by obedience to the spiritual master the only conclusion is that both the Gaudiya Math and ISKCON have become sectarian organizations. It must also be concluded that anyone who accepts these organizations and their membership and follows them is also in a state of disobedience and thus cut off from the benfits of the Sampradaya.
The solution is a simple one. When a sincere and humble disciple is apprised of disobedience the immediate response is to give up that disobedience and embrace obedience. When the Godbrothers of Srila Prabhupada, along with their disciples, are apprised of their disobedience of the GBC order of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, their proper response is to set up a GBC and begin to cooperate as ordered. When the GBC of ISKCON is apprised that it is neglecting its duty as ordered by Srila Prabhupada its proper response is to again come under the jurisdiction of obedience. This would entail the ejection from ISKCON of all individuals who do not accept and follow the principles and practices of the Sampradaya. This would entail activities such as GBC elections, establishment of Varnasrama Communities, Colleges, Gurukulas, and so on, rather than the persistance of the existing roster of personal and private projects. It would mean the end of such deviations as Prominent Link, Ritvik and Falldown Theories, simply because the members of ISKCON would not allow their existence within the society nor acknowledge their existence outside the society. They would preach vigorously to the masses that such deviations are sectarian deviations and are not authorized representation of the Sampradaya.
The difference between a “nirmatsaranam satam”, pure hearted devotee and one with a crooked heart is that the pure hearted devotee will give up disobedience and constantly seek obedience. On the other hand the crooked hearted devotee will embrace disobedience, reject all apprisals and then use sastra to defend the position of disobedience and present it in the garb of authentic obedience. Vaisnava philosophy and religion are meant only for the nirmatsaranam satam and all others are barred from attaining the benefits regardless of their wealth, learning, power, social standing or impression management capability.
Even though obedience is the authorized and simple solution to the problem of the sectarianization of the Sampradaya it will be found that few devotees are interested in accepting the mantle of strict obedience to the Spritual Master.
Among the disciples of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati there was only one, so how many will there be from among the disciples of Srila Prabhupada?