By Prabhupadadasanudas (not Prabhupada das as earlier stated)
Dear GBC Members, or whoever wrote that ingenious presentation:
Please accept my humble obeisances and prayers for your eventual liberation from this type of thinking. Please know: I am a disciple of Srila Prabhupada, a very senior one and also one who spent much time with His Divine Grace. I am not a member of Srila Narayana Maharaja’s sanga. And I do not usually get involved in these GBC political skirmishes since they are never-ending, and always changing. In this case, however, I feel it is my duty to Srila Prabhupada to say something.
Whether you like the preaching efforts of Srila Narayana Maharaja or not, this is not the issue. The issue is that he is a senior Vaishnava, respected all over the world, and was indeed a close friend of Srila Prabhupada. Please do not embarrass Srila Prabhupada in this way. It is not our jurisdiction to judge or criticize those who are superior to us in age or experience, as he is.
Please, my dear Godbrothers, it is an embarrassment for you to behave in this way. If you could just be honest and say truthfully, “We don’t want Narayana Maharaja around because he is so much our senior, so charismatic, so transcendentally inspiring that we feel threatened; we worry that our disciples (who are already noted for having a three-year shelf life) may leave us and go to him,” then at least your honesty could be appreciated. But with this long, drawn out he-said-this, he-said-that, bull—-, (and distorted facts as well), it is hard to feel anything but embarrassment at your transparency. Everyone sees through this mask, you know.
Unfortunately, fanaticism runs in all religious circles, and sometimes new converts, in their overzealousness, can seem abrasive, obnoxious and downright offensive. This could be said of both sides. But to criticize a sadhu who is senior to us by age, by diksha, by experience, and by a long-term relationship with our Srila Prabhupada, that is reprehensible. Even if you don’t like how he preaches, it is still not your place to criticize him. Prabhupada could criticize his own Godbrothers, but he never allowed us to do so. It is a matter of Vaishnava etiquette.
The really sad thing is that many of you are sincere and dedicated disciples of Srila Prabhupada. You all started out with the sincere desire to serve Srila Prabhupada, and to learn to serve Krishna. You took a few wrong turns when you tried to wear Daddy’s shoes prematurely, but he is forgiving and still loves you. He loves us all, even those who have gone astray and who have ended up in very unfortunate situations.
Whenever I have visited some of the Narayana Maharaja programs, I am amazed by the great number of Prabhupada’s disciples who are there, chanting and dancing and preaching and doing the things Srila Prabhupada taught us to do. I am also astounded at the vast numbers of enthusiastic youth, some Gurukulis, some new devotees, all jumping and dancing and chanting just as we were in our youth. They are truly inspired. As Prabhupada used to say: The proof of the pudding is in eating it.
I question whether you are eating much of the transcendental pudding these days, as you are so busy criticizing, picking apart, and comparing notes, that you have no time. In America, the land of defunct and disabled gurus, Srila Prabhupada’s temples are empty, folding, or falling apart—or maintained by Indians who don’t have the same appetite for such pettiness as this.
There’s truth to the saying that you can’t teach old dogs new tricks. But old dogs die, and new pups come in with their youth and enthusiasm. That’s what’s happening in the Narayana Maharaja sanga, but you refuse to see it. Instead, you choose to cling to your pedantry and pride. But please don’t expect everybody else to do this with you.
Have you thought of what history will say? It may read something like this:
“After the demise of the world-famous Spiritual Leader His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, a handful of his young disciples prematurely declared themselves his successors, and wrecked havoc to his mission. These imitation gurus misled hundreds of spiritual aspirants, created disaster for the institution that Swami Prabhupada built, and left a trail of angry, injured disciples, many of whom left spiritual life completely.”
I don’t know about you, but I sure wouldn’t want that on my resume!
Then history will declare,
“When the situation became intolerable for both the sincere disciples of Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, as well as the hopelessly discouraged new disciples of these false gurus, another great personality appeared on the horizon. That personality was a God-nephew of Srila Prabhupada, who was known to him for many years, and who even performed the great Swami Bhaktivedanta’s last rites. He was known as Sri B.V. Narayana Maharaja, and he was a senior member of the Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti, an organization begun in 194l by his Gurudev, Srila Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Goswami Maharaj. This Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti was actually established by Swami Bhaktivedanta along with this Godbrother Srila Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Maharaj. It was from the hand of this beloved Godbrother that Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami received his sannyas initiation.”
It may conclude:
“By the sincere efforts of Sri B. V. Narayana Maharaja, hundreds and thousands of fortunate souls were rescued from the spiritual holocaust that took place in Iskcon after Srila Prabhupada’s departure. Srila Narayana Majaraja took it upon himself to travel the globe again and again, despite the frailty of old age and ill health, in an effort to insure that the mission of Srila Prabhupada was continued in an authentic manner, one in keeping with the Vaishnava traditions of the Gaudiya Sampradaya. The Dark Ages of Iskcon were ended by the Renaissance of the world-wide preaching work of Sri B. V. Narayana Maharaja, who worked tirelessly even in his old age, to print books, establish temples and ashrams, and heal the hearts of so many sincere souls.”
Like it or not, this is very likely what history is going to say. No one will want to remember you or the tragedy you brought about in Srila Prabhupada’s Iskcon.
But the worst part is that you are offending this great personality who has really done you no wrong. He is traveling and preaching, inspired by a vision of world-wide unity. He is translating spiritual texts constantly, putting out more and more of the Goswami literature. He has thousands of Indian disciples in India, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and in Europe, South Africa, Australia etc. Westerners make up only a small part of his sanga. He is just doing what Acharyas do: traveling and preaching, building ashrams for their devotees, building temples, installing Deities, teaching the masses, inspiring the surrendered souls. He has all the markings of an Acharya. Yet you choose to criticize him and make offense? I think you are really headed down a dark road.
Our Srila Prabhupada loves us all, even those who are stubborn, deviant, and rebellious. But he will correct you rather sternly on this one. Not only is Narayana Maharaja your senior in every respect, he is a close spiritual relative of Srila Prabhupada. Do you really believe our Srila Prabhupada wants you to behave like jealous spoiled children, and offend someone of this caliber?
I was with Srila Prabhupada from the very early days, before the GBC existed. During the early times, it is undeniably true that Prabhupada had an ongoing correspondence with Narayana Maharaja, who sent him instruments, Deities, as well as Ayurvedic medicine. All the old devotees know this. In those days, communication between the US and India was cumbersome and near impossible. Prabhupada was always delighted when he would receive the big packages of Barailaich (sp?) and other Ayurvedic medicines from Narayana Maharaja. It is important to understand that Prabhupada had a life before he came to the U.S., with many friends and supporters. He would not be happy to witness your embarrassingly offensive behavior toward Narayana Maharaja. Prabhupada had respect for and communication with many various saintly persons, it is impossible to limit him in this way.
So far as the “monkey disciple” part, if you read through his books you will see there are times when Prabhupada does call his Western disciples monkey disciples. That does not mean he loves us any less, just that we are sadly lacking in brahminical qualifications.
Considering what you have done to our Spiritual Master’s Iskcon, “monkey disciples” may be viewed as a kindness, while “robber barons” would be more appropriate.
Please don’t publicly embarrass the rest of us Prabhupada disciples in this way. Those of you who have facility should go out and preach, as is Narayana Maharaja, instead of sitting at home writing this type of stuff on your computers, or chasing after Hindus for money to build monuments.
You took over all the assets and temples; now do something with it. Don’t let Prabhupada’s temples rot in a state of decay—both materially and spiritually. And if you are unable to do something worthwhile, then at least don’t decry those who are—those who are sacrificing their lives and doing the austerity of traveling and preaching all over the world.
We are proud of such Godbrothers as Indradyumna Swami, Radhanatha Maharaj, Govinda Swami, Giriraja Swami—there are others too numerous to mention. And I’m sure they are far too busy with their preaching programs to take time out to write critiques on Narayana Maharaja. Maybe you GBC’s should follow their example. That would be most pleasing to Srila Prabhupada. At least don’t be an embarrassment to our beloved Spiritual Master, by disrespecting someone who had a life long relationship of friendship with him. A simple letter of apology and honor would be very much in order.
Whether you like it or not, Sri Narayana Maharaja has Vaishnava siddhis that make him a very powerful preacher. He is blessed by Lord Chaitanya, is making devotees all over the world, and is doing his part in spreading the Holy Name to every town and village. Only a very small percentage of these devotees are coming from Iskcon. He is our senior in every respect, so even if we don’t agree with him, it is not our place to criticize him. It is serious Vaishnava aparadha.
And what if, by chance, he has, in fact, been sent in by Srila Prabhupad to clean up the mess you’ve made of his Iskcon? Think how many spiritual aspirants have been disillusioned, devastated, and spiritually destroyed, especially after being “initiated” three to five times by Iskcon so-called gurus! Do you really think you have no responsibility for these disasters?
Just like the Catholic church, you have covered up atrocities and clung to your posts of power, drinking every last drop of the intoxication called pratistha. Srila Prabhupada warned us about personal ambition many times. Please don’t let your own ambitions destroy your chances at bhakti marg; Vaishnava ninda is very serious. Even Krishna does not forgive it. Only the Vaishnava you have offended can mitigate it.
Please, my dear GBC godbrothers, please beg forgiveness of this great Vaishnava whom you have wrongfully criticized and maligned. That is your only hope. He is old and will not be here too many years more; I pray you will find the intelligence to beg his forgiveness and make amends before he leaves this world, else your future is very, very dark.
Your servant in the service of Srila Prabhupada,
N.B. There were times when Srila Prabhupada was totally disgusted with the GBC, and even at least one occasion when he told all the rest of Iskcon to ignore them. I think this is one of those times.
Erratum: The open letter to the GBC criticizing their treatment of Srila Narayana Maharaja was written by Prabhupadadasanudas. This is not to be confused with Prabhupada Das Brahmachari.