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Danavir’s comments RE: Sampradaya Sun

—–Original Message—–
From: Danavir Goswami (USA)
Sent: Saturday, October 29, 2005 5:27 AM
To: Modern Culture in Relation to Varnashrama
Subject: Notice

SUN OR RAHU?

From Danavir Goswami

Several devotees have asked for my opinion about a news site named Sampradaya Sun (SS) which has recently begun to broadcast ISKCON-related topics on the internet. The website is puzzling because, on one hand it strives to appear “ISKCON-friendly” by displaying colorful photos of Krishna, devotional announcements, preaching reports and editorials, etc. while on the other hand it propounds ritvik theory, Vaisnava aparadha and condemnation of ISKCON. I find it like using Krishna as bait for a wicked hook.

On the whole, I think SS seriously breeches Vaisnava etiquette and undermines the faith of ISKCON devotees in the process of bhakti as given by Srila Prabhupada.

That seems a rather negative way of looking at it. As I see it, ISKCON has disappointed a lot of devotees, myself included, and Sampradaya Sun is providing a forum where I can try to understand why that happened, keeping alive that little spark of hope that somehow I can find Krishna again.

It was good to see Danavir Maharaj participate there, albeit briefly. Perhaps if ISKCON leaders would take a more active role in these sorts of forums, honestly discussing the issues that are raised there, those of us who have become jaded or marginalized may feel inspired again. Of course, there are many devotees who feel that more of a sacrifice is required of the leaders, thinking that those who helped cause a problem are not necessarily the best ones to fix it. Personally, I’m not sure how I feel about that.

In my case, just by asking one question about a moral contradiction of a big guru, I was threatened, condemned, and effectively driven out of my local devotee community, where that guru had replaced Srila Prabhupada as the primary guru of the temple. ISKCON has done nothing to help, after ten years of receiving as much service as I was able to give. It appears instead that the leaders, as exemplified by the message below, find it easier to push those like me even further out by denouncing the primary forum where we hope that our voices may be heard.

I came to ISKSCON ten years ago, eager to engage in devotional service and with full faith that I would become Krishna conscious. Now I’m trying to figure out what went wrong. Sampradaya Sun is giving me an opportunity to do that. My first choice would have been for the GBC to help, but they did not. Instead, those GBC who heard about it apparently were disinterested, cowardly, or corrupt; and their pathetic response has made me feel expendable. So now I’m finding a little solace in association with other devotees who have also stopped pretending that there are no problems in ISKCON, and here I find that this is also condemned.

When ISKCON has so disappointed me, why should I continue to put my faith in this institution? Can the ISKCON leadership find a way to heal my wounded faith so that I can feel inspired again? How much do they think the fate of a soul is worth, or am I already written off as lost?

Hare Krsna.

Sincerely,
Pandu das

4 comments to Danavir’s comments RE: Sampradaya Sun

  • bhaktin Miriam

    Dear Pandu prabhu,

    I cringe everytime I see anything written by Danavir Goswami.
    First of all, he has managed to convinced most of his disciples not to associate with Dhira Govinda prabhu because he (Maharaja) does not like the book: “Srila Prabhupada: The Prominet Link.”
    Second, about 2 years ago, Maharaja contacted the leaders of ISKCON in Europe and warned them not to invite Dhira Govinda prabhu to give “Personal Transformation” and relationship courses there. He even lied to them saying that the GBC has publicly denounced the courses (or something like that).
    Thirdly, he sent me an e-mail (not so sure how he got my address) warning me not to organize any of Dhira Govinda prabhu’s courses. He sent a similar letter to other devotees who organized those courses (not sure how he got those e-mails either).
    Maharaja is trying hard to stop devotees from associating with Dhira Govinda prabhu.
    Danavir goswami thinks that he is the master of Dhira Govinda prabhu’s soul. But he is not even his diksa guru. All Maharaja did is give Dhira Govinda prabhu second initiation (not first initiation). Imagine having a guru like that! May God spear one from such a fate!
    Danavir goswami is also the man who made such a stink about children playing soccer. He said that was not a Vaisnava activity.
    This is the kind of leaders we are dealing with in ISKCON. No wonder devotees are freaking out.

  • bhaktin Miriam

    Here is my answer to Danavir Goswami:

    “Guru” in the Singular and Clarity about “Fall Down”
    by Dhira Govinda dasa

    We need a guru in whom we have absolute faith and whom we are willing to follow unconditionally in order to spiritually progress to the realm of pure devotion to Sri Krsna. This statement is made with reference to the point that each of us has many gurus, with “gurus” used in the sense of “teacher”, or “person who inspires and guides us”. We have many gurus, and it is understood that we generally don’t consider these many gurus to be on the absolute platform. That is fine, realistic, to be expected. That said, we need one guru, or at least one guru, who is on that absolute platform and in whom our trust is implicit and absolute. Sincere followers of Srila Prabhupada agree that Srila Prabhupada exists on that absolute platform and is fully qualified as a shelter for the unconditional surrender of conditioned souls. As we assert in Srila Prabhupada: The Prominent Link, when a person contacts Srila Prabhupada’s movement, that person has found a guru, in the sense of finding a Vaisnava who is completely worthy of their absolute faith. In that sense, the person no longer needs to seek a guru, because s/he has found one. Of course, that person will naturally have so many other devotees guide, instruct and mentor him/her during their spiritual lives. Although the person may consider one or more of these other devotees to be on the absolute platform, it is not necessary that s/he considers as such, or that those guides and mentors be on that platform, because Srila Prabhupada is perfectly serving in that capacity for the aspiring devotee. Thus, to reiterate, Srila Prabhupada flawlessly fills the role of guru, in the singular sense of the term, for all who contact his movement.

    There is a game going on in the ISKCON organization. The game sounds something like “Now that you’ve been in the movement for six months, or twenty years, or whatever, you should find a guru.” In the context of the presentation in the paragraph above, the absurdity of that game should be apparent. To justify the game the leadership of the ISKCON organization needs to dance in amusing ways. Essentially they seem to need to passively convince that Srila Prabhupada is not available to play that role. For example, they may say that one needs a living guru, implying that Srila Prabhupada is not living, despite so much evidence to the contrary. Or they may say that one needs a guru who is physically present on this planet, or something to that effect. Then one may wonder about the situation of those who received formal initiation from a devotee, such as Gaura Govinda Maharaja, who is no longer physically present on the planet. Do those initiates need to search for a guru, with “guru” used in the singular sense? If so, then supposing they find a guru in whom they have absolute faith, and that guru passes away the next day. Does the initiate then need to search for another guru, and then yet another when that one passes away? It may be asserted that the initiate doesn’t need to search for another guru, because his guru who has physically departed continues to live in sound and instruction. Then, one may reflect that if this guru who has departed continues to live, inspire and serve as a guru, then it would seem that Srila Prabhupada could also do that. Thus, in looking for a guru in the absolute position, there seems to be no basis for searching for a Vaisnava other than Srila Prabhupada. Of course, at all stages of our devotional lives we seek devotees who will guide and inspire us, though, it seems to me, there is no reason, at any stage of our devotional lives after we’ve encountered Srila Prabhupada’s vani, to search for a guru in the absolute position.

    So, members of ISKCON leadership tend to obscure the issue by asserting things like “Srila Prabhupada can be the siksa guru, but not the diksa guru”, and various similar statements. Essentially, they’re attempting to assert that Srila Prabhupada is not available to be the guru in the absolute position. Herein we won’t enter into the discussion of the meaning of “diksa”. That is addressed to some extent, though by no means fully, in Srila Prabhupada: The Prominent Link (PL). Even if we consider “diksa” in terms of the formal ceremony of initiation, as ISKCON leadership is often inclined to do, our parampara teaches that the guru in the absolute position, who is the reservoir of implicit faith for the disciple, is not intrinsically the devotee who conducts the ceremony of initiation. This is clearly evident from the list of the parampara found at the end of the BG Introduction. This is separate though related to the discussion about the essence of the process of diksa being in no way dependent on the formal ceremony of initiation.

    From what I am able to perceive, the position of the ISKCON leadership is that Srila Prabhupada, for some reason that I’ve not yet comprehended, is not available to be that guru in the absolute position, and thus a person who contacts Srila Prabhupada’s movement must search for a guru from amongst members of the list of gurus approved by ISKCON leadership. Apart from the difficulties of establishing Srila Prabhupada’s unavailability, this stance also encounters serious problems in relation to the concept of “fall down”.

    In the organization “fall down” connotes an obvious deviance from the regulative principles. This understanding of the term possesses value in our dealings and relationships with each other. However, if we are speaking of a guru who is the primary link to the parampara for disciples, who is the reservoir of absolute trust, and who is the point of absolute surrender for the disciple, then “fall down” has a meaning more profound. In the 12th Chapter of Bhagavad-gita, for example, Sri Krsna describes one who is equipoised in honor and dishonor, and happiness and distress, and who is free from false ego, etc. From that perspective, “fall down” indicates any departure from pure goodness. That is the standard of “fall down” if we’re speaking about primary, current, and direct links to the disciplic succession such as Srila Prabhupada, Srila Rupa Goswami, and Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakur. When “guru fall downs” are spoken about in ISKCON, that tends to focus on the person being caught in blatant violations of regulative principles. But that is not the standard to be applied if we’re discussing gurus in the absolute position.

    Sometimes the dance takes the form of stating “Well, he/I is/am not claiming to be absolute or infallible. He/I/We is/am/are simply doing our best…” We need to recognize the smokescreen surrounding the humble-sounding tap dance. A person aspiring to advance in spiritual life needs a guru who is the direct link to the parampara who is qualified to receive unconditional surrender. For the disciples of ISKCON gurus let us ask “Who is that guru in the absolute position?” If it is the Vaisnava who performed the formal initiation ceremony, then let that be clearly stated. And if so, then that conductor of the ceremony should be held to the standard of “fall down” that is there for the pillars of the parampara such as Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur, Srila Jagannatha dasa Babaji, and Srila Prabhupada. If out of sincere or a show of humility they claim that they are not the direct link to the parampara who is the point of ultimate surrender, then let us ask, who is? Is it Srila Prabhupada? If so, then let’s celebrate that and state it clearly. But they won’t state it clearly, and least not consistently, or in writing, as far as my experience goes. Rather, the tendency of ISKCON leadership is to claim, albeit implicitly and with humble-sounding words, that the ISKCON gurus are the point of ultimate surrender for the disciple, while at the same time wanting to hold themselves to a shallow understanding of “fall down”. If they are gurus in the sense that we each have so many gurus, then that conception of fall down has its place. If they are saying that they are the primary links to the parampara, as listed at the end of the Introduction to Bhagavad-gita As It Is, then the standard of fall down is any deviation from pure goodness, including any personal ambition, any personally motivated thoughts or behavior, any tinge of attraction for profit, adoration, or distinction, etc. If they are saying that they are not the primary links, then let’s openly ask who is the primary link, the guru in the absolute position, for the initiate.

    At some level members of ISKCON leadership know that the standard for fall down for a guru at the level that they are claiming is the highest standard. For example, in the “Qualifications of the Candidate” section of a fairly recent nominating letter for someone to be an authorized ISKCON initiating guru, one of the qualifications is stated as:

    “He is free from kamini-kancana, pratistha, nisiddhacara, kuti-nati, puja, and labha.”

    How such a thing is determined by the GBC is not clear for me. That such a statement is asserted indicates that they know, at some level, that they are claiming, despite humble-sounding smokescreens to the contrary, to be gurus at that absolute level.

    Another dilemma of the system being promoted by the ISKCON leadership is the fact that if there is any fall down of any sort then that is a clear indication that the system is not authorized. For example in Nectar of Devotion Srila Prabhupada writes “…if a spiritual master is not properly authorized and only on his own initiative becomes a spiritual master, he may be carried away by an accumulation of wealth and large numbers of disciples. His is not a very high grade of devotional service. If a person is carried away by such achievements, then his devotional service becomes slackened. One should therefore strictly adhere to the principles of disciplic succession.” Because at some level they know this, fall downs of gurus, even blatant ones, are routinely covered up and denied, unless and until it becomes futile to do so. They know that the fact that any one of them has deviated, even slightly from pure goodness, what to speak of blatantly from even ordinary standards, indicates that the guru system they are promoting and following, and which serves them personally, is not authorized. In recent months this has been taken to a new level. Now, there are gurus whose fall downs are blatant and exposed. Still, they remain ISKCON gurus. The reasoning behind this, as far as I am able to perceive, is simply that declaring them no longer ISKCON gurus will cause too much damage to the organization. Thus, as in many other instances, so-called philosophy is determined based on supposed needs for organizational preservation. For the guru who has blatantly fallen and been exposed (I state this explicitly because many have blatantly fallen and have not yet been widely exposed), he is still holding that position which implies absoluteness. So, for the disciples of that guru, should they consider this person to be the point of ultimate surrender? Should they consider Srila Prabhupada to be that guru in the absolute position? If Srila Prabhupada is available to them in that capacity, or to anyone in that capacity, then it seems he is available to everyone in that capacity- at least everyone who sincerely devotes their life to him and his mission.

    It is commonly known throughout the movement that many in the position of “absolute guru” are blatantly fallen, though this has not yet been revealed, and thus they continue in their posts as “ISKCON guru”. And each of us can determine for ourselves what percentage of “ISKCON gurus” are fallen with reference to the standard of being free from any tinges of the modes of material nature. This presentation is not about finding fault in those who are assuming the position of “ISKCON gurus”. Rather, I present this to generate deliberation about why someone who contacts Srila Prabhupada’s movement should need in any way to take chances about the devotee they choose to be the guru who is the direct link to the parampara. It is 100% sure that Srila Prabhupada is qualified for this role. And, I and many others assert, he is fully available for that service. So, by connecting with Srila Prabhupada as the infallible guru, all members of Srila Prabhupada’s movement for all generations are fully secure in their link to the disciplic succession. Even if there were some doubt that even one of the ISKCON gurus were influenced by some tinge of the lower modes, it would seem to me that it would not be responsible to set up a system where the potential initiate needs to take any chances whatsoever, considering that Srila Prabhupada is available to be the primary and current link to the parampara. Beyond that, and as described in PL, even if all who serve in the capacity of ISKCON initiating guru were to be mahabhagavatas, my conviction is that they would embrace the PL model. Srila Prabhupada is available to serve as the guru, in the singular sense. Therefore, why would anyone, especially an advanced Vaisnava, want to try to fill a position that is already filled by Srila Prabhupada?

  • bhaktin Miriam

    It is not my intension to saturate this blog with Prominent Link (PL) concepts. So, I won’t talk about it anymore in here. But I want to clarify one thing. The PL does not say that gurus should initiate on behalf of Srila Prabhupada (that is ritvik philosophy-not PL). The PL concepts say that one should take initiation and that the initiator is your guru. You are not Srila Prabhupada’s disciple, you are his grand-disciple. Nevertheless, Srila Prabhupada is the primary guru-he is more important in your spiritual life than the initiator. So, although, one takes initiation, the initiator plays second fiddle. He is not the primary person in one’s spiritual life. And even if the initiator is the primary person in one’s life, ISKCON should permit devotees to openly accept Srila Prabhupada as the primary link to the parampara because he is the primary deliverer of transcendental knowledge. It is more involved than this, but I don’t want the likes of Danaviras and GBC (who get very threaten that Srila Prabhupada might become more important in the devotees spiritual life than them) to start posting falsies here like they did in Chakra. At least my posting is telling the truth about PL.

  • Gour Govind Sevak Senan

    Dear Bhaktin Miriam, this lowly servant of yours finds your presentations to be frank and honest. Allow me to comment on one point as frankly and honestly as i can, basing on what my dearest gurudev taught us.

    First, a little about ISKCON and me. i am 77. My mother gave us Krsna 70 years ago. We were fortunate that we knew nothing about devatas. We worshiped only Krsna. But Mom did not tell us that He was the “SUPREME PERSONALITY OF GODHEAD”– a phrase I heard for the first time in my life when, by Krsna’s plan, not by chance, I came in contact with ISKCON people in a small shop called GOVINDA’S GIFTS which attracted my attention with its lovely Krsna posters and sweet aroma of incense. The moment i heard that extra-ordinary description of Krsna, I was naturally trapped because now I heard for the first time that the person i had loved most of my life was not an ordinary “god”, but “THE SUPREME PERSONALITY OF GODHEAD” with none equal or higher than Him.

    That was in 1985 when I was 49. I at once embraced ISKCON. Srila Prabhupada naturally became my siksa-guru. I served his vani by serving his movement in whatever small way possible. I met and served many “gurus”. It was clear to me that I needed a diksa-guru. I liked most of the gurus I had served, just as much as they liked me. But I also knew that I was not fit to be a good sisya of anyone of them. I did not want to be a burden to them.

    Dilemma! With no diksa-guru, Krsna-consciousness per se gave no hope for advancement. Fortunately I knew that I must have had a bona-fide guru in my previous HUMAN life/lives,[janme-janme prabhu sei] but I had no vision to recognize him in THIS life. So, knowing that my siksa-guru, Srila Prabhupada, who is all-knowing, MUST know who my eternal guru was/is/will be, I constantly begged him to reconnect me to him. Prabhupad did not disappoint me. He sent Srila Gour Govinda Swami to me direct to my humble home where I met him for the first time in THIS life, 5 years after my ISKCON-life began.

    I hosted him for almost ten days. He seemed to know me better than I knew myself. I too felt I had known him before, and that he had come only to reclaim me. But in my case, being conscious of my own sinful nature, I did not want to impose myself on him. I only kept in touch with him by letter and during his preaching visits.

    DURING THOSE TIMES HE MADE IT CLEAR THAT. WHILE IT IS PERFECTLY ALRIGHT TO ACCEPT SRILA PRABHUPADA AS ONE’S SIKSA-GURU, IT IS OF UTMOST IMPORTANCE FOR ONE TO ALSO GET A DIKSA-GURU. WHY? ANSWER: ONE CAN BE PRABHUPADA’S SIKSA-GURU, BUT DUE TO HIS NOT BEING VISIBLE, THOUGH ETERNALLY PRESENT, IN THE ABSENCE OF HIS VAPU-FORM, HIS DISCIPLE CANNOT EXPECT TO BE DISCIPLINED. VANI ALONE CANNOT INFLICT DISCIPLINE. WITHOUT BEING SLAPPED, WITHOUT BEING PERSONALLY COACHED, WITHOUT BEING COAXED, ENCOURAGED, SCOLDED, PRAISED, ETC, NO ONE, NOT BY ANY STRETCH OF ONE’S IMAGINATION, CAN CLAIM SRILA PRABHUPADA TO BE ONE’S DIKSA-GURU. NEVER!

    IT IS ADMITTED THAT A GURU LIKE SRILA PRABHUPADA IS TOO RARE TO FIND. THAT DOES NOT MEAN, WHILE BEGGING HIM TO BE ONE’S SIKSA-GURU, ONE CANNOT ASK HIM TO FIND ONE’S PHYSICALLY PRESENT DIKSA-GURU. IF ONE HAS FAITH AND PATIENCE, PRABHUPADA WILL DEFINITELY SEND ONE ONE’S DIKSA-GURU IN THIS LIFE ITSELF OR THE NEXT. PATIENCE AND FAITH; FAITH AND PATIENCE. THESE ARE THE KEY REQUIREMENTS. HASTE MAKES WASTE.

    REMINDER: THOUGH EVER-PRESENT IN VANI, SRILA PRABHUPADA CANNOT PHYSICALLY DISCIPLINE ANY DISCIPLE. SO, ADVOCATING ACCEPTANCE OF SRILA PRABHUPADA AS DIKSA-GURU FOR NEW HARE KRSNA FOLLOWERS IS ABUNDANTLY INADVISABLE BECAUSE SUCH BHAKTAS CAN NEVER GET THE BENEFIT OF SEVERE “HEAVY” DISCIPLINE FROM VANI GURUS.

    Back to my experience:
    It took me five years to realize that Srila Gour Govinda Swami Mahasaya had snared me back into his all-embracing loving heart, and, in 1995, I begged him to accept me, and he accepted me without hesitation.

    yhs
    gour govind sevak senan
    10.02.2013

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