"The test of our actual dedication and sincerity to serve the Spiritual Master..."

Swami B. A. Ashram:
Here is what Prabhupada wrote to me: "Now, we have by Krsna's Grace built up something significant in the shape of this ISKCON and we are all one family. Sometimes there may be disagreement and quarrel but we should not go away. These inebrieties can be adjusted by the cooperative spirit, tolerance and maturity so I request you to kindly remain in the association of our devotees and work together. The test of our actual dedication and sincerity to serve the Spiritual Master will be in this mutual cooperative spirit to push on this Movement and not make factions and deviate."
Today, a devotee of Prabhupada to whom I had said that I was a disciple of Prabhupada, played for me Prabhupada's words which he had isolated on my behalf, which said, "A disciple is one who accepts the Spiritual Master's discipline." His purpose was to let me know that he did not accept my claim.

My first answer was, "Who are you to judge my relationship with Prabhupada? You cannot speak for him and you cannot speak for me, so who do you speak for?"

He took a concerned attitude, "No, I am only playing your Spiritual Master's words so you can hear what your Spiritual Master says. You think what you want."

We went on a little and made some further remarks parting company. But I have no reason to feel defensive about my statement that I am Prabhupada's disciple and have never stopped being his disciple.

One takes birth from one mother and father alone, and they remain father and mother until your death.

So then, what is the discipline? Is it truly the discipline to maintain the organization Srila Prabhupada founded, the church, which as we know from Siddhanta Saraswati is doomed to a rather worse fate than we could ever wish on a movement that is dedicated to spreading the Holy Name?

In my view, the goal is prema, and that is a very personal endeavor that may or may not be facilitated by a disciplinary social organism.

But the "may not" is highly more likely than the "may" in this instance.

In fact, let me go on to say, that the path from vidhi to raganuga passes by way of jumping over the walls of the institution.

Now thieves also cooperate. Those who cover-up child abuse to protect the organization -- for Prabhupada's sake, for ISKCON's sake, or whatever -- they also cooperate. Those who seek power become allies and power brokers. They also cooperate. In a big institution, a lot of cooperation goes on. A lot of it may be totally sincere and even have some spiritual dimension, but it is often quite indirect,

And it is not for everyone. It may well not be for most. And indeed let us hope it is not.

And one thing is certain: It not the last word in understanding what Gaudiya Vaishnavism is really all about.

Why do we have to insist that Prabhupada taught everything that needed to be known? He was here for twelve years. How do you communicate a 5000 year old culture in that time? How does one sadhaka digest enough of India to be able to enter the mind of Rupa Goswami, or Kaviraj, or Mahaprabhu Himself?

Of course. Prabhupada wanted to preserve ISKCON, and at the same time he wanted his disciples to display the highest character, whereby truly saintly personalities would, by the combined force of their saintliness, won through service to the Holy Name, transform the world.

But it is open to a great deal to understand that Gaudiya Vaishnavism is about abandoning Varnashram Dharma and ISKCON is about establishing Varnashram Dharma. It is about that to the extent that any institution is a worldly institution, even if it is engaged in a preaching mission to teach the Holy Name.


Sadhu sanga is the only remedy for spiritual malaise. Just worked on these verses:

parasparānukathanaṁ pāvanaṁ bhagavad-yaśaḥ
mitho ratir mithas tuṣṭir nivṛttir mitha ātmanaḥ
smarantaḥ smārayantaś ca mitho’ghaugha-haraṁ harim
bhaktyā saṁjātayā bhaktyā bibhraty utpulakāṁ tanum

Devotees talk to each other about the glories of the Lord, which are all purifying. In each other’s association, they increase each other’s joy and satisfaction, and together they achieve the cessation of the selfish ego.

Remembering Krishna and reminding each other of Krishna, who takes away all the distress of sin, as their devotional service in practice is transformed into devotional service in love, they experience ecstatic symptoms like hair standing on the body. (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 11.3.30-31)

But such sadhu sanga....


Swami B. A. Ashram :

If you miss the phrase "*mutual* cooperative spirit," I believe you miss what I have always seen as the essence of the letter. Cooperation does not just mean submission. It means working together. I knew Siddhasvarupananda pretty well. I lived with him for a number of years. He loves Srila Prabhupada and gave up more than you and I did to join ISKCON.

Nevertheless, ISKCON's leaders pretty much drove him out not just once, but three times. And some still don't want to leave him alone. And as far as the rest of us are concerned, if we don't submit to their control, they will do what they can to see that they are branded as deviants, regardless of their actual fidelity to the process given by our beloved spiritual master.

Jagat: Precisely what I would call the INEVITABLE consequence of institutionized bhakti. Institutions run by priests are a breeding territory for ambition and hypocrisy.


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