Hansadutta Prabhu wrote the following paper, Gopimnia in response to reports of an attempt by Narayan Maharaja to win over ISKCON in 1993. Almost immediately after this paper was published, Tamal Krishna Gosvami and Giriraj Swami were hauled before the GBC and ordered to have nothing further to do with Narayan Maharaja. Those two backed off, but in the meantime, Narayan continued to attract disenchanted ISKCON devotees.
Since that time, however, Narayan has advanced his ambitions to take over Srila Prabhupada’s disciples and grand disciples and sit as Acharya in Srila Prabhupada’s place. His following has grown considerably in number, and his close band of reinitiates (former disciples of Srila Prabhupada or grand disciples) have become bolder and resort to all means to recruit from within ISKCON’s poorly defended walls.
We have seen that Narayan and the other Gaudiya Math “acharyas” fail to seduce the devotees who have firm faith in Srila Prabhupada and appreciation for his place in the disciplic succession as Sampradaya Acharya. Unfortunately, many newcomers to Krishna consciousness have not read Srila Prabhupada’s books and do not understand what it means to be a disciple, let alone a guru, and they fall for a “spiritual master” on the basis of sentiment.
Indeed, Narayan’s recruiters deliberately play on the sentiments of devotees, citing the supposed friendship between Srila Prabhupada and Narayan. Hansadutta Prabhu slices through this illusion with the one question: “TAKE SRILA PRABHUPADA OUT OF THE EQUATION, AND WHAT DO YOU HAVE?”
Before Srila Prabhupada brought Krishna to the West, no one outside India (practically) had ever heard of the Gaudiya Math, and even in India, the Gaudiya Math was in ruins, lost to obscurity–a far cry from the once prominent Vaishnava preaching mission it was in the time of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur. Immediately after Srila Bhaktisiddhanta’s disappearance, the disobedient disciples fought over successorship and took it to the courts to decide. Forty years later, court cases were still going on, but in the meantime, the disciples had taken it into their own hands to name themselves acharyas. Srila Prabhupada kept himself away from these useless people, who anyway regarded him as a lowly householder. When at last Srila Prabhupada came to America, he had no help from his godbrothers; in fact they discouraged him–either with their silence or with their counsel that he should return to Vrindaban and admit failure in his mission. When Srila Prabhupada brought back his first disciples to India, he put Vrindaban on the map. It is Srila Prabhupada who gave life to Vrindaban. Before that time, Vrindaban had scarcely any trade; it was a humble little village, just one of so many thousands of pilgrimage sites. Now Vrindaban is a thriving, bustling town, the streets lined with merchants, pilgrims arriving by bus loads and train loads, and property prices have soared. Whereas Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur’s once glorious Gaudiya Math had crumbled to pieces, now came Srila Prabhupada with a whole new blood line under the standard of ISKCON. Srila Prabhupada’s movement brought life and prosperity to everyone in Vrindaban, materially and spiritually. It is only since the departure of Srila Prabhupada and the disintegration of the institutional ISKCON that the Gaudiya Math acharyas like Narayan have appeared on the scene, like the vultures that adorn the tops of their temples in Mathura.
Hansadutta advised us not to get all bent out of shape, and not to go out of our way to broadcast the “evils” of Narayan, because actually his teachings have no substance, and the people who flock to him are faithless, but to call attention to him would give him credibility he does not deserve. yasya deve para bhaktir, yatha-deve tatha gurau: “To those who have implicit faith in the spiritual master, all the purports of the Vedas are revealed.” (Svetashvatara Upanishad 6.38) They became doubtful that Srila Prabhupada could be their spiritual master.
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur departed from this world in 1936. Of all his disciples, Srila Prabhupada was the ONE who expanded Krishna consciousness beyond the shores of India to the far reaches of the globe and brought it back again to India. A few of the godbrothers who survived Srila Prabhupada have grasped at the chance to become known by grabbing some of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples and grand disciples, but they have not accomplished anything more than this.
Srila Prabhupada lit a roaring fire. Everywhere he went, everyone he met caught on fire. Fire consumes everything–the good and the bad. Those whose motivations were not pure also became drawn to the fire, and were ignited. Sometimes sparks flying from the fire fall upon dry leaves and grass nearby, and these begin to smoke, then all of a sudden burst alight. But just as quickly as they light up, they burn out. So it is with Srila Prabhupada’s godbrothers–all very small in comparison to the greatness of Srila Prabhupada. They will have their five minutes of fame, but they will be undone by it, and in the end, nothing will come of them, whereas Srila Prabhupada will continue to live on, forever in his teachings and in the hearts of the devotees.
Narayan makes much of his qualifications as guru, but Srila Prabhupada spoke of himself always that he was merely the humble servant of his spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur wrote one song called “Sri-Guru-Parampara” in which he sings the glories of the disciplic succession. He sings not of gurus, but of disciples, who regard themselves as servants of each other, and exhorts us “In this way you should properly understand this disciplic succession.” Servant of the servant of the servant. Now Srila Prabhupada is no longer among us. Many of us have never seen Srila Prabhupada, or came to the movement just when he was about to depart. We have his instructions, but we also want guidance from a person who can represent Srila Prabhupada to us. Narayan claims to be that representative, Srila Prabhupada’s successor. But Narayan never served Srila Prabhupada when he was present, and now he serves him by belittling him and reinitiating his disciples?
Since Srila Prabhupada’s departure in 1977, so many of his disciples and grand disciples have scattered to the wind, and ISKCON has broken up. What remains is quite unlike the ISKCON that we first joined . . . when Srila Prabhupada was indisputably the Founder-Acharya, the absolute authority. The current ISKCON leaders have done away with Srila Prabhupada. All that remains is some sentiment for Srila Prabhupada; his instructions are increasingly subjected to modifications and his books are all being revised.
When the BBT brought the courtcase against Hansadutta, ISKCON GBC signed declarations saying that Srila Prabhupada had never owned the copyrights to his books, because they were “works for hire”, meaning that Srila Prabhupada was a hired worker, that ISKCON supplied him with board and room, pencil and paper, typists and so forth, and whatever Srila Prabhupada wrote actually belonged to ISKCON, not to him. This was their legal argument.
We are very grateful to Hansadutta Maharaja for keeping us safe in the shelter of Srila Prabhupada. Not to say that we are surrendered–we are fallen–but he inspires us and enlivens us to want to become Krishna conscious and serve Srila Prabhupada in some way. We were very lucky to have been trained up in kirtan and devotional service under Hansadutta Maharaja.
Hope you are well. — Your servant, Das
by Narottama dasa Thakura
sri-guru-charana-padma, kevala bhaktati-sadma bando mui savadhana mate
yahara prasade bhai, e bhava toriya yai krishna-prapti hoy yaha ha’te
The lotus feet of our spiritual master are the only way by which we can attain pure devotional service. I bow down to his lotus feet with great awe and reverence. By his grace one can cross the ocean of material suffering and obtain the mercy of Krishna.
guru-mukha-padma-vakya, chittete koriya aikya ar na koriho mane asha
sri-guru-charane rati, ei sei uttama-gati ye prasade pure sarva asha
My only wish is to have my consciousness purified by the words emanating from his lotus mouth. Attachment to his lotus feet is the perfection that fulfils all desires.
chakhu-dan dilo yei, janme janme prabhu sei divya-jnana hride prokashito
prema-bhakti yaha hoite, avidya vinasha yate vede gay yahara charito
He opens my darkened eyes and fills my heart with transcendental knowledge. He is my Lord birth after birth. From him ecstatic prema emanates; by him ignorance is destroyed. The Vedic scriptures sing of his character.
sri-guru karuna-sindhu, adhama janara bandhu lokanath lokera jivana
ha ha prabhu koro doya, deho more pada-chaya ebe yasha ghushuk tribhuvana
Our spiritual master is the ocean of mercy, the friend of the poor, and the lord and master of the devotees. O master! Be merciful unto me. Give me the shade of your lotus feet. Your fame is spread all over the three worlds.
Today we received a barrage of papers in the mail regarding the “Gopi Bhavas,” namely, Tamal Krishna Goswami, Giriraja Maharaja, Jadurani devi dasi and Bhurijana Prabhu. These transcripts concern their involvement with Narayana Maharaja of the Gaudiya Math. Because the volume of paperwork is too much to copy and mail out, we will assume that the reader has either read, heard or has access to the transcripts. If not, anyone desiring to have a copy of the transcripts in question can write to Nama Hatta at Geyserville and we will forward a copy to them.
Without going over every point in the transcripts, which consists of lectures, conversations, meetings and letters from concerned devotees, we shall comment only on the main points in this whole affair. Our comments are random, not in order and formulated over a period of a week or two, as inspiration moved us.
Co-operate with Gaudiya Math???
Giriraja Swami has written a paper suggesting strongly that ISKCON should co-operate with the Gaudiya Math. There is no harm in uniting with Gaudiya Math, but that consideration can only be entertained as long as we keep Srila Prabhupada as the central pivot of such co-operation. In other words, both the Gaudiya Math and the ISKCON devotees, both leaders and followers, must act subordinately to the Sampradaya Acharya, Srila Prabhupada, and act as his representatives.
There is no use in giving analytical attention to the speech of Narayana Maharaja or Tamal Krishna Goswami, nor to the paper written by Giriraja in favour of uniting ISKCON and the Gaudiya Math. The fact that any disciple, especially a leading so-called guru-acharya of ISKCON, would betray Srila Prabhupada on such whimsical and absurd grounds in favour of a so-called “rasika bhava guru” is the only point to be considered.
- What are the actual accomplishments of Narayana Maharaja, who has the audacity to say, “Prabhupada gave only a little… the basic thing. He could not give more” [The higher thing can be had from either himself, the rasikabhava guru or others like him] and “Srila Prabhupada was not actually a servant of Krishna, only a servant of Maha-Vishnu?” What books has Narayana Maharaja translated, published and distributed? Srila Prabhupada translated and published over 140 books and Back to Godhead magazines, all sold in the hundreds of millions, in languages all over the world.
- How many times has Narayana Maharaja travelled around the world, lecturing, opening centres, leading Ratha-yatra festivals, giving TV, radio and university appearances?
- How many temples, guest houses, farm communities and restaurants has Narayana Maharaja opened in his lifetime?
- How many disciples has Narayana Maharaja initiated from countries around the world?
- What help or service did Narayana Maharaja or any other Gaudiya Math leader actually render to Srila Prabhupada in his preaching mission at any time, to spread the mission of Srila Prabhupada? Of course, in hind sight, many have given lip service–“Yes, Swami Maharaja has done very nicely”–and then they go on to re-initiate and pollute the minds of a few of Srila Prabhupada’s foolish and envious disciples.
- Who gave Tamal Krishna Goswami authority to go to Narayana Maharaja’s math and speak nonsense in lectures and sit without protest while Narayana Maharaja belittles and disgraces Srila Prabhupada’s name by saying he only gave the basic thing, and he was not actually a servant of Krishna, but only a servant of Maha-Vishnu?
- Why should ISKCON co-operate with Narayana? Co-operate means working together, bringing equal assets to the co-operative venture. What assets does Narayana Maharaja or any other Gaudiya Math leader have that could be equal to the assets of Srila Prabhupada? Does Narayana Maharaja have missions world-wide in every major city of the world? Has Narayana Maharaja published any authorised Vedic literatures, such as Srimad-Bhagavatam, Bhagavad-gita, Chaitanya-charitamrita, Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu, Ishopanishad? It is said that a king can never be friends with a pauper. Where is the question of co-operation?
Giriraja Swami wants to present himself as a gopi bhava, rasika bhava, advanced devotee. But at every public function, including a normal morning Bhagavatam class, Giriraja Swami falls asleep, drooling saliva from his lips. Is this the sign of a rasika bhava, advanced devotee of the Lord? Or is it the sign of a bored devotee who cannot remain awake during the Bhagavatam class? (Video tape available.)
How Will They be able to Counter the Poison?
The fact is that all these so-called ISKCON leaders, both the Gopi Bhava Club adherents and the GBC conservatives (who are up in arms) are actually the cause of the present perverted behaviour, popularly known as the Gopi Bhava Club. Both camps have disobeyed Srila Prabhupada, the Sampradaya Acharya, by allowing Srila Prabhupada to be neglected and eclipsed by the unauthorised assumption of the guru-acharyas immediately after Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance in 1977. Instead of acting as rittvik acharyas and keeping Srila Prabhupada in the centre of the world-wide Vaishnava community, as Srila Prabhupada instructed in his July 9th, 1977 letter naming 11 rittvik acharyas, the GBC allowed the so-called guru-acharyas to take the position which only Srila Prabhupada, as the Sampradaya Acharya, should occupy. Now the question is what can be done? The answer is simply bring back Srila Prabhupada as our only saviour and worship him sincerely as the Sampradaya Acharya. Simultaneously, dismiss all so-called guru-acharyas, especially gopi bhava, rasika bhava, rasa tattva gurus and re-evaluate and reconsider them to act as rittviks of the Acharya, provided they are qualified. But this will be difficult, if not impossible, to implement, because both the rasa tattva, gopi bhava group and the concerned GBC conservatives are both guilty of guru aparadha–the former by usurping Prabhupada’s position of Sampradaya Acharya and establishing themselves as guru-acharyas and the latter for allowing this to happen in the first place and for allowing it to continue to happen in spite of so much protest and evidence to the contrary, including the fall of six of the eleven gurus.
What will happen now?
For fear of being excluded from the Guru Club, the conservative GBC party will try for some compromise, and the Gopi Bhavas will prevail. The Gaudiya Math will have succeeded in driving Srila Prabhupada out of ISKCON as an ordinary guru who could give only the basic thing and left the higher thing to be taught by them (Gaudiya Math, rasika bhava gurus). Thus the mission established by Srila Prabhupada will be effectively drained of all potency for future preaching as envisioned by Srila Prabhupada, thanks to the handle that lent itself to the axe to chop down the tree of Srila Prabhupada’s ISKCON. In this case, the handle is Tamal Krishna Goswami and others of like mind.
The best course of action at this time would be to expel Tamal Krishna Goswami, Giriraja, Bhurijana Prabhu and Narayana Maharaja (gang of four) and revert back to Acharya worship of Srila Prabhupada, thus setting the whole mission back on track and opening the door to all of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples to return back to ISKCON under one perfect leader, Srila Prabhupada. This would re-unite ISKCON in the only way possible, namely with Srila Prabhupada in the centre as the Sampradaya Acharya and all others, including the so-called guru-acharyas, as Srila Prabhupada’s servants, as it was when Srila Prabhupada was with us physically and as he meant it to be after his departure, as per his letter of July 9th, 1977 (“Act as rittvik of the Acharya”).
The Gopi Bhavas and the GBC conservatives are like two thieves who conspire to rob a bank but run into unexpected opposition, resulting in one of them killing a bank officer. The one thief is shocked that the other thief has gone overboard, and he becomes panic-stricken, because he was not prepared to commit murder, but only wanted to steal the money from the bank. At the same time, he is unable to extricate himself from sharing the guilt with his partner in crime. Unwillingly he must go along with his partner who has committed the murder.
In a similar way, one party illegally usurped the position of guru-acharyas, while the other party, the GBC, participated passively, allowing it to happen. Now one party, specifically the Gopi Bhava club, is committing murder of Srila Prabhupada by declaring Srila Prabhupada as a guru of minor importance–“He gave only the basic thing.” The higher thing we can get by installing Narayana Maharaja and co-operating with the Gaudiya Math. The conservative party, the GBC, is shocked, but what can they do? They are also implicated in the original crime of guru aparadha,having disobeyed the order of the Acharya, Srila Prabhupada. Therefore they will not be able to counteract or stop the poisoning effects of the Gopi Bhava club in ISKCON. Nor will they be able to counteract Narayana Maharaja’s sinister influence spreading through the rank and file of ISKCON devotees. Only wholesale, unconditional surrender unto the lotus feet of Srila Prabhupada can save the situation, but that they will not do. The GBCs will reluctantly go along with the murderous Gopi Bhava Club and allow Srila Prabhupada to be disgraced and his mission to be destroyed, all in the hopes of keeping their position and sharing in the prospects of future positions as guru-acharyas, like their Gopi Bhava god-brothers.
He was not a servant of Krishna
We should note that Narayana Maharaja uses the same arguments and statements made by Srila Sridhara Swami, when he became the subject of controversy some years ago–“He was my shiksha guru, but he was also my friend. They should not think that I should treat Srila Prabhupada as they are treating to their master.” By this statement, Narayana Maharaja minimises Srila Prabhupada’s position as the Sampradaya Acharya. He suggests, “Prabhupada was my friend.” In other words, Narayana Maharaja and Srila Prabhupada are on an equal footing, and he may be seen by some foolish western disciples as a great shakti-avesha avatara and Sampradaya Acharya, but “We Gaudiya Math, rasika bhava gurus know that Swamiji was simply another guru in a crowd of gurus and he could not give but the basic thing, and left the higher thing to be given by us.”
Narayana Maharaja goes on to belittle Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, saying it was not His business to preach, but such lowly activities are performed by Maha-Vishnu. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s only business was rasaniryasa.
Then he goes on to belittle all Vaishnavas who adore Chaitanya Mahaprabhu as the yuga-avatar and His preaching of the Holy Name. He belittles Srila Prabhupada again as a foolish simpleton who also preached the Holy Name and Bhagavad-gita. Then he says, “So I want to say that your Prabhupada has given those things, only these things, and not beyond these things, then he was only the servant of Maha-Vishnu.”
The Wise Ones
Then Narayana Maharaja proceeds to tell us of those who are wise and accepted initiation from a Vaishnava rasika bhava bhakta of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who like Ramananda Raya, Swarupa Damodara, Rupa Goswami, Raghunatha Goswami and their generation up to Vishvanath Chakravarti, Bhaktivinoda and Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada and “my Gurudeva” (omitting Srila Prabhupada), “Those who have given their heart to them and have realised anything, very little, they can realise these things.”
So according to Narayana Maharaja, Srila Prabhupada does not even rate as one of the disciples in the disciplic succession. Narayana Maharaja’s guru–whose name no one has ever heard, because not only he, but every single one of the so-called Gaudiya Math gurus after Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada never did anything of note–is given recognition, but Srila Prabhupada, who is known world-wide, has been dismissed as being a mere servant of Maha-Vishnu, an ignorant guru who wasted his time giving the basic thing, the Holy Name,Bhagavad-gita, etc. The wise ones will understand about rasatattva from the Vaishnavarasika guru, such as Narayana Maharaja.
Then he goes on to flatter Tamal Krishna Goswami and Giriraja as the ones (right and left hands) who were running the whole movement while Prabhupada was here, completely disregarding the thousands of sincere boys and girls world-wide who risked their lives and gave their time, blood, energy and intelligence to push on the Krishna consciousness movement for Srila Prabhupada.
Not at all a devotee
By claiming to be a Vaishnava rasika guru, absorbed in the higher thing, rasa tattva, as opposed to the basic sadhana bhakti–hearing, chanting, remembering, etc.–one immediately becomes impudent and disqualified. This whole affair of gopi bhava, rasa tattvais a blatant exhibition of pride and arrogance. Such boastful, sahajiya types should be rejected and avoided at all costs. Lord Chaitanya’s prayer is: “Although You make Yourself available easily by chanting Your Holy Name, I have no attraction for this chanting.”
An advanced devotee never claims or boasts of his advancement. In fact, it is the symptom of the most elevatedmaha-bhagavata to think himself the most wretched of all. In fact, he claims that he is in fact not at all a devotee, but sees everyone else nicely engaged in the service of the Lord.
The attempt to teach rasa tattva by systematic discussion and practice is like trying to teach the child within the womb to walk and talk. It is simply not possible. But soon after coming out of the womb, the child naturally will walk and talk by regular association of walking and talking brothers, sisters, father, mother, relatives, etc. What is the use of discussing rasatattva with neophyte devotees who have not yet advanced to the stage of staying awake at Bhagavatam class or fail to attend it altogether and have not developed a taste or steadiness or attachment for the vibration of the chanting of the Holy Name of Krishna?
The fact that the “rasika bhava” devotees allow themselves to be embroiled in squabbles and controversies over the validity or invalidity of their position and their pursuit of rasatattva and their loyalty and affection and obsession with Narayana Maharaja and co-operation with Gaudiya Math is in itself testimony of their mundane, mediocre, sahajiya mentality. What more can be said about them?
When we first heard of the Gopi Bhava Club, we dismissed it as the activities of some foolish neophyte devotees in Vrindavan, thinking that they would fade away as quickly as they came into being. When we were further informed that the Gopi Bhava Club was headed up by some staunch disciples and one-time vigorous preachers of Srila Prabhupada’s ISKCON, namely Tamal Krishna Goswami and Giriraja Swami, we thought someone must be joking or making up malicious rumours. When the rumours were repeatedly confirmed as fact from numerous reliable sources, along with actual transcripts and lectures of Tamal Krishna Goswami and Narayana Maharaja and Giriraja Swami, we were stunned with disbelief and disappointment.
When we read the transcript of Tamal Krishna Goswami, Giriraja Swami and Bhurijana and others pushing their “Vaishnava gopi bhava, rasika guru” Narayana Maharaja and their propaganda to have ISKCON co-operate with Gaudiya Math without any shame, fear or remorse, we became angry, frustrated and depressed. In 1992, on the occasion of Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance day at the Krishna Balarama Mandir, Narayana Maharaja said the same thing he said recently at Prabhupada’s sannyasa initiation day: “Swami Maharaja had only a little time, and he could not give it all. He gave the basic thing (The higher thing you can get now from us).” At that time, Tamal Krishna Goswami was already thick and thin with Narayana Maharaja. When we challenged Tamal Krishna Goswami on this obviously offensive statement, he tried to brush it aside as a misunderstanding on our part, but now we hear the same thing again from Narayana Maharaja, and this time Tamal Krishna Goswami, Giriraja Swami, Bhurijana Prabhu and others are in full support without any shame. They not only sit idly by, allowing such offensive talk, but they adore the person as their new-found, “rasika bhava guru,” disregarding Srila Prabhupada and all his sincere devotees. In ordinary language we would call this sort of behaviour treason, betrayal or prostitution.
Tamal Krishna Goswami and Giriraja Swami talk of Prabhupada as if he were simply another one of innumerable gurus who maintain a temple and dozen disciples who beg some money for their guru to insure their rice, dahl and chapatis. If Narayana Maharaja and other “Vaishnava rasika gurus” are so highly elevated in Krishna consciousness, why is it that they have never been able to accomplish anything of significance, either before Srila Prabhupada began his ISKCON preaching activities in 1965 or during the time (1965-1977) that Srila Prabhupada was preaching world-wide and establishing ISKCON or since the disappearance of Srila Prabhupada to the present day (1977-1994)? What has Narayana Maharaja done? What has any other Gaudiya Math sadhu done? Why should Srila Prabhupada be compared to them? How many books printed, how many temples, guest houses, farm communities, foreign disciples, how many trips around the world, TV and radio, university appearances? What has any Gaudiya Math guru done? Just give some account of their tangible contributions to preaching the mission of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
People talk of devotees and gurus as if they were a dime a dozen, the common, everyday commodity, but the fact is to date we have only one pure devotee in whom we can rest our faith, Srila Prabhupada, the Sampradaya Acharya. He is like butter, and the others are like margarine. He is gold, others are like brass. Everyone wants to be the guru, the saviour of the fallen souls. Everyone has got the heart disease of lust, and it is especially permanent in the shape of pratistha (“I am the guru. All others are to serve me and follow my command”).
How deep the mountain is???
On the one hand Narayana Maharaja says Srila Prabhupada is his guru and friend, then later he belittles his guru and friend by saying he merely gave the basic thing; whereas he, Narayana Maharaja, a “rasika bhava guru,” will give the higher thing. To accept one as guru means surrender, unconditionally, just as Arjuna surrendered to Krishna. Arjuna and Krishna were also friends, but when Arjuna surrendered to Krishna, friendship stopped, and master and disciple relationship began. So Narayana Maharaja claims that he accepted Srila Prabhupada as guru, then he says that Srila Prabhupada was also his friend. Then he said that Srila Prabhupada gave only the basic thing, and he proceeds to enumerate a list of “rasika bhava gurus” in the disciplic succession, including Srila Bhaktisiddhanta and his (Narayana Maharaja’s) own guru and stops there, not naming or mentioning Srila Prabhupada, yet obviously indicating himself as the present “Vaishnava rasika bhava guru.” Then he says, “They know how high the mountain is, but they don’t know how deep the mountain is.” But what is the meaning of his little quip? Whoever cares how deep the mountain is? Of what necessity or practical value is it to know how deep the mountain is? How will that help one to climb and reach the mountain peak? I don’t get it. Does anyone get the point?
The Mafia should surrender
Giriraja Swami proposes and argues that ISKCON should co-operate with Gaudiya Math and tries to impress us that Srila Prabhupada wanted this co-operation. But what Srila Prabhupada wanted was that everyone–the government, educators, religionists, scientists, hippies, Gaudiya Math, etc.–should co-operate with him and his ISKCON devotees to spread Krishna consciousness all over the world. He did not want us to co-operate with them, but them to co-operate with him and his movement, ISKCON. Giriraja Swami suggests ISKCON co-operate with Gaudiya Math. This is preposterous. First of all, there is no united Gaudiya Math mission. It was destroyed by the disobedient leaders immediately after the disappearance of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada, just as ISKCON is being destroyed by its disobedient leaders, GBCs and gurus, who have disregarded Srila Prabhupada’s order–“Act as rittvik of the Acharya.” The chief disobeyers are Tamal Krishna and Giriraja, who at this very moment of writing are suggesting ISKCON co-operate with the Gaudiya Math. This is like suggesting that the USA government co-operate with the Mafia.
What need is there on the part of the government to co-operate with the Mafia? It should be the other way around. The Mafia should surrender and co-operate with the United States government. So the same conclusion: Srila Prabhupada must be accepted as the Sampradaya Acharya. All ISKCON leaders and then Gaudiya Math leaders must be unconditionally surrendered to him, Srila Prabhupada, as the perfect leader around whom all devotees world-wide can unite and co-operate to spread Krishna consciousness effectively.
But ever since ISKCON leaders have dismissed Srila Prabhupada from their association and have appointed themselves (with the sanction of the GBC) as the guru-acharyas of ISKCON, there has been no unity, no life in ISKCON, what to speak of the Gaudiya Math, who disobeyed the order of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada and subsequently tried to obstruct, criticise or just ignore Srila Prabhupada and the great mission he initiated world-wide, known as ISKCON. It is ridiculous for Giriraja to suggest that ISKCON co-operate with the Gaudiya Math.
ISKCON cannot even co-operate with ISKCON. How would they co-operate with the Gaudiya Math?
Some Devotees Shocked
In one of the letters received in this barrage of papers regarding the Gopi Bhava club, some devotees are shocked, it said, that leaders and rank and file devotees could participate in this kind of belittling and offensive talk and behaviour towards Srila Prabhupada, but on the other hand, they allowed Tamal Krishna Goswami and all the so-called guru-acharyas and GBC to push Srila Prabhupada aside to make way for the “new guru-acharyas” back in 1977, immediately after the disappearance of Srila Prabhupada.
Those devotees were not shocked then, because at that time they envisioned themselves as one day sharing in the booty of the guru-acharya prestige which their god-brothers had so arrogantly assumed. Now that these same men had gone too far by boldly declaring Srila Prabhupada as a mere ordinary guru who is only capable of giving the basic, general thing, they are shocked. Why? Because they do not see how they will get their share of the guru-acharya loot if Narayana Maharaja, “rasika bhava acharya,” becomes the prominent figure in the scheme of things. Therefore they do not want Narayana Maharaja; they want Srila Prabhupada as the centre, because it is easier to exploit Srila Prabhupada’s legacy. After all they think Srila Prabhupada is dead and gone. If Narayana Maharaja is heralded as a “rasika bhava Vaishnava” surpassing Srila Prabhupada, how will these aspiring guru-acharyas realise their ambition? This is the real undercurrent of their concern.
Don’t Get Caught In-between
What is the use of entering into the midst of these two contending camps? Both are disloyal or disobedient to the order of Srila Prabhupada–“Act as rittvik of the Acharya.” Their struggle with one another is really about who will wield the power of authority in ISKCON. Will it be the GBC? Or will it be the gurus? This point is clearly expressed by Giriraja Swami during his meeting in Mayapur, where he challenges the authority of the GBC in the following way: But I would raise another point. To what extent is it the business of the GBC to try to regulate such instruction? The GBC tried to regulate or certify Vaishnava literature through the apasiddhanta, or breach of Vaishnava etiquette. For example, when Hari Sauri’s first diary came out, things were published that shouldn’t have appeared, in terms of Prabhupada’s direct instruction, and in terms of Vaishnava etiquette. And the book, having the official GBC ISKCON Review Board certificate, put us in an awkward position, as much as the GBC was in an awkward position when the official GBC-approved gurus fell down. So I think it is neither realistic nor practical nor advisable for the GBC to try to take the position of assessing Gaudiya Vaishnavas and certifying that one is good for association and another is not. Srila Prabhupada has given so many instructions about association in the Nectar of Instruction and other places. If the devotees have questions about the application of the principles, they can ask their gurusor any senior devotees in whom they have faith. It is really a question whether the GBC wants to start certifying Vaishnavas not under the authority of the GBC and trying to control or stop devotees from meeting them. In the case of the Review Board, even if we did not certify a book, there was no way to stop a devotee from reading it. They ended up reading whatever they wanted, approved or not. So this is a very critical issue. Whether the GBC should even try to certify people not under the GBC’s authority and legislate the devotees’ association. (Giriraja Swami addressing Mayapur meeting)
So this is the vital nerve of the whole controversy between the Gopi Bhava Club and the GBC.
All problems facing ISKCON are due to one cause: both GBCs and gurushave disobeyed the order of Srila Prabhupada and have become contenders for his position, or for his post of authority. Instead of simply accepting Srila Prabhupada as the authority, as the absolute spiritual head, as the Sampradaya Acharya, everyone is contending for his post. The fact is that the GBC should serve Srila Prabhupada and carry out his order, and the rittvik gurus should serve the GBC. Then there will be no question of controversy.
But without Srila Prabhupada as the Sampradaya Acharya, controversy will never end. Today it is Gopi Bhava, tomorrow it will be something else. If we keep Srila Prabhupada as the Sampradaya Acharya and keep unconditional allegiance to his word, there will be no opportunity for conflict. Now there are two camps–GBCs and Gopi Bhava gurus. As time goes on, more camps will split off from these two, each claiming a unique angle of vision or interpretation of what Srila Prabhupada meant, instead of following his order.
All this controversy exists only because originally the GBC allowed the gurus to take the powerful position of guru-acharya, disregarding Srila Prabhupada’s actual order (“Act as rittvik of the Acharya”),because they anticipated their own ascension to the post of acharya in due course of time. The GBCs and gurus are partners in crime. One partner (Gopi Bhava) is committing murder, and the other camp is shocked, because they did not think it would come to this, namely, actually killing Srila Prabhupada. They thought of just enjoying a little sense gratification in the name of guru, but now it’s too late, and what can be done?
The real solution
What will happen next? After everything is said and done, the only real solution to this and all other problems facing the devotees individually and collectively within and without ISKCON is uncompromising surrender and allegiance to the order and instructions of Srila Prabhupada, the Sampradaya Acharya. Rather than waste our valuable time and energy combating and counter-combating each other over the endless issues and side issues in this regard, we should aim our time and energy, money and words at the innocent public on the basis of worshipping the Sampradaya Acharya, Srila Prabhupada. The results will be testimony to the validity of the premise that Srila Prabhupada should be worshipped by one and all as the Sampradaya Acharya. Thus, all devotees can be united in one harmonious family, as Srila Prabhupada wanted us to be.
What did Srila Prabhupada Say about “Gopimania?”
Excerpts from letters, lectures and conversations
Please accept my blessings. I have received information that some of our devotees are mixing with the babajis in Vrindaban. This has produced so many problems amongst our men and women who visit Vrindaban. Here in Los Angeles, we have found that there is a group of about 40 devotees who privately meet to discuss the intimate pastimes, artificially thinking that they can enter into the understanding of the gopis prematurely. This will create havoc in our society, and the result will be that if this is allowed to go on, our preaching work will be greatly hampered.
This premature desire to understand the lila of Krishna is due to mundane sex life desire, as we have seen amongst many of the babajis and sahajiyas in Vrindaban. Our Jagannath das came back from Vrindaban asking me that he had heard some babaji speaking about siddha-deha, and he also was listening to these babajis. So I want this immediately stopped. If it continues, this mixing with the babajis, then it will mean spoiling.
In many cases these babajis keep two or three women. Asatsanga tyagi. Their association is to be avoided and prohibited amongst all of our devotees who visit Vrindaban. (Srila Prabhupada to Nitai das, 7 June 1976)
Established means re-establish. It is already established. We have got different types of relationship. That is called svarupa-siddhi. Svarupa-siddhi. When you are perfect in spiritual life, you will understand what is your relationship with Krishna automatically. That is called svarupa-siddhi. You have got original relationship with Krishna. Nitya-siddha krishna-bhakti. Chaitanya-charitamrita. That is a… Just like you are son of some gentleman. That is a fact. It is not that the son becomes father or father becomes son. No. The son is son; the father is father. Similarly, we have got an eternal relationship with Krishna, either as father or as lover or as servant, like that. So that is self-realisation. When you will be perfect in love, in loving Krishna, then in what status of life you will love, that you will under–…That will be revealed. That is called svarupa-siddhi. So svarupa-siddhi is not something artificial. When one becomes perfectly spiritually realised, then he understands what is his relationship with Krishna, and he begins his service in that relationship as father, as friend, as guru or as servant, like that. So this relationship is eternal. (Srimad-Bhagavatam lecture, December 7, 1974, Bombay)
Raga-marga is not artificial. It becomes, svayam eva sphuratyadhah. Sevonmukhe hi jihvadau… Everything, devotional relationship with Krishna, you cannot establish artificially. Everyone has got a particular relationship with Krishna in his original, constitutional position. That will be revealed gradually as you advance in devotional service in the prescribed rules and regulations as they are directed in the shastras and by spiritual master. When you are trained up properly, you come to the platform of raga-marga, then your devotional si–… That is called svarupa-siddhi. Svarupa-siddhi. So svarupa-siddhi is attained at a certain stage. Just like svarupa-siddhi… The desire for sex life is there in every human being, but when the boy and girl come to the mature stage, it becomes manifest. It is… is not learned artificially. Similarly, the raga-marga, svarupa-siddhi, becomes revealed or manifest. Shravandi suddha chitte karaye udaya. Udaya. This very word udaya is used.
Just like sun. Sun becomes visible when the sun rises automatically. You cannot force the sun to rise at dead of night. That is not possible. Sun will rise. You just wait. When the time will be right, morning, six o’clock, you’ll find the sun. Similarly, the devotional service, we have to execute with patience, with enthusiasm. (Nectar of Devotion lecture, 20 October 1972, Vrindaban)
PRABHUPADA: The change is taking place in this material world. There all tastes are fixed up, rasa, eternal, eternal rasa. Every one of us has a different taste of associating with Krishna, and that will be realised when one is liberated.
HANSADUTTA: So that’s fixed already.
PRABHUPADA: Yes. When you are liberated, you will understand in which way you are related with Krishna. That is called svarupa-siddhi. But that is attained when you are actually perfect in devotional service. Just like in our family we enjoy different rasas. We have got one kind of relationship with wife, one kind of relationship with sons and daughters, one kind of relationship with friends, one kind of relationship with servants, one kind of relationship with property. So similarly, Krishna… The whole creation is His family, and He has got relationship in that way. So why the son will change his relationship into husband and wife?
HANSADUTTA: I see.
PRABHUPADA: Yes. Because every relationship is very palatable.The gentleman, the head of the family, his relationship with wife and his relationship with servant is as much palatable. There is no question of changing. Not that “I am tasting this rasa at the present moment. Then I will get better rasas.” No. That is not… Everyone thinks, “My rasais the best.” Although there is comparative gradation, but everyone thinks. These things are explained in Chaitanya-charitamrita. Why don’t you see?
HANSADUTTA: And Nectar of Devotion.
PRABHUPADA: Yes. Everyone thinks, “My relationship with Krishna is the best.”
HANSADUTTA: So it’s not a matter of aspiring to some–
PRABHUPADA: No, there is no question of aspiring, because he is already situated in the best of relationships with Krishna. Even the trees in Vrindaban, they want to serve Krishna silently in that way, supplying fruits and flowers. That is their ananda. Everyone enjoying the supreme bliss. When Krishna comes, takes a flower or fruit, that is their enjoyment.(Srimad-Bhagavatam lecture, 10 February 1971, Gorakhpur)
PRABHUPADA: Tirtha-guru, if he’s able to take him to the temple, then tirtha-guru. Otherwise he’s a goru, cow, tirtha cow, that’s all.
TAMAL KRISHNA: Say like that?
PRABHUPADA: Yes [laughs], tell them that. He’s unable to show Jagannatha. Then how he’s guru? It is guru’s responsibility to bring his to… That is upanayana. Upanayana, this sacred thread, means the guru brings him near God.
TAMAL KRISHNA: Yeah. This man gives them some thread, makes them touch his feet, the whole thing, offer coconut–
PRABHUPADA: He’s a foolish rascal. What can be done?
TAMAL KRISHNA: Yeah. Jagannath, when he was telling us about this babaji, he said that there’s also these babajis, they claim to be a guru for giving initiation into their svarupa.
TAMAL KRISHNA: Yeah, svarupa-siddhi. So we can mention this as also rascaldom.
PRABHUPADA: Yes. What can be done? Cheaters there are. If you want to be cheated, who can save you? He has made guru without asking his guru. He submits to others. Then how we can save him?
TAMAL KRISHNA: What does that do to his relationship with his own spiritual master?
TAMAL KRISHNA: How does this affect his relationship with his–
PRABHUPADA: They don’t care for his own spiritual master.
TAMAL KRISHNA: But what…? This means their relationship is spoiled?
PRABHUPADA: Yes. Guror avajna, aparadha.
TAMAL KRISHNA: Aparadha.
PRABHUPADA: And Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has advised, “Save yourself froma paradha.” Some aparadha, and they are going away, just like Nitai. Guror avajna. (Room conversation, April 25, 1977, Bombay)
The science of learning a subject matter seriously is different from the sentiments of fanatics. Fanatics or fools may consider the Lord’s activities in relation with the external energy to be useless for them, and they may falsely claim to be higher participants in the internal energy of the Lord, but factually the Lord’s activities in relation with the external energy and the internal energy are equally good. On the other hand, those who are not completely free from the clutches of the Lord’s external energy should devoutly hear regularly about the activities of the Lord in relation with the external energy. They should not foolishly jump up to the activities of the internal energy, falsely attracted by the Lord’s internal potential activities like His rasa-lila. The cheap reciters of the Bhagavatam are very much enthusiastic about the Lord’s internal potential activities, and the pseudo devotees, absorbed in material sense enjoyment, falsely jump to the stage of liberated souls and thus fall down deeply into the clutches of external energy.
Some of them think that to hear about the pastimes of the Lord means to hear about His activities with the gopis or about His pastimes like lifting the Govardhana Hill, and they have nothing to do with the Lord’s plenary expansions as the purushavataras and Their pastimes of the creation, maintenance or annihilation of the material worlds. But a pure devotee knows that there is no difference between the pastimes of the Lord, either in rasa-lila or in creation, maintenance or destruction of the material world. Rather, the descriptions of such activities of the Lord as the purushavataras are specifically meant for persons who are in the clutches of the external energy.
Topics like the rasa-lila are meant for the liberated souls and not for the conditioned souls. The conditioned souls, therefore, must hear with appreciation and devotion the Lord’s pastimes in relationship with the external energy, and such acts are as good as the hearing of rasa-lila in the liberated stage. A conditioned soul should not imitate the activities of liberated souls. Lord Sri Chaitanya never indulged in hearing the rasa-lila with ordinary men.
In the Srimad-Bhagavatam, the science of God, the first nine cantos prepare the ground for hearing the Tenth Canto. This will be further explained in the last chapter of this canto. In the Third Canto it will be more explicit. A pure devotee of the Lord, therefore, must begin reading or hearing Srimad-Bhagavatam from the very beginning, and not from the Tenth Canto. We have several times been requested by some so-called devotees to take up the Tenth Canto immediately, but we have refrained from such an action because we wish to present Srimad-Bhagavatam as the science of Godhead and not as a sensuous understanding for the conditioned souls. This is forbidden by such authorities as Sri Brahmaji. By reading and hearing Srimad-Bhagavatam as a scientific presentation, the conditioned souls will gradually be promoted to the higher status of transcendental knowledge after being freed from the illusory energy based on sense enjoyment.–Purport, Srimad-Bhagavatam, Canto 2, Chapter 7, Text 53