© 2003 - 2013 Suhotra Maharaja Archives - Vidyagati das
ISKCON Wroclaw, Poland
Now we are in the ISKCON temple on the outskirts of Wroclaw, Poland. On Monday I drive from here in the general direction of Warsaw, but with some stops on the way. I think we are visiting Indradyumna Maharaja once again. On 18 August I fly from Warsaw to Helsinki.
I received a couple letters about the previous In2-MeC (7 August). One expressed some concern about the reasons I've given for deciding not to initiate more disciples for an indefinite period. The focus of the concern was my allusion to a need I have to be free from having to deal with problems within ISKCON. I've stated that to initiate means to initiate on behalf of the Society, but I find having to represent the Society as an initiating guru to be troublesome because there are unresolved institutional issues that I do not care to be part of. So the question is, what are younger devotees to think about their own roles in the ISKCON institution when they read such a statement from me?
Over and above everything else, the fact remains that in 1971 I gave my life to ISKCON. And I continue to give my life to it. But to give a life to the institution of my spiritual master, I have to have a life to give. In other words, I have to survive. Srila Prabhupada states in a purport to the Bhagavatam narrative about the fight between the elephant Gajendra and the crocodile, that a devotee should resort to a position in which he finds the most strength in his fight against maya.
It has become clear to me over the last two-three years that my strong position is as a sannyasi who is free of managerial responsibilities, and free of entanglement in institutional issues. I am already a spiritual master and for those disciples who remain loyal I shall continue to be. Even for newcomers to ISKCON I can act as an instructing spiritual master (siksa-guru). But GBC duties I can no longer accept. And to initiate new disciples is a role in ISKCON that has a lot of affinity with GBC duties, in that it is a high-profile position that exposes one to the same winds that buffet GBC members.
This decision is not whimsical. As I indicated in the entry of August 7, I am in communication with several Godbrothers about these points. I've been mentioning Harikesa in some recent entries; he was not interested in the opinion of his Godbrothers when he made his decision to leave ISKCON altogether. He simply followed his own mind. The Godbrothers that I consult agree that the bottom line is that one must survive in Krsna consciousness. As one Godbrother told me, "Your first duty is to Srila Prabhupada, not to your disciples." Of course I am not giving up my duty to my disciples as long as they do not give up their duty to me. But after giving initiation to nearly 200 disciples, I have enough. Taking on more will put my first duty to Srila Prabhupada in danger.
My Godbrothers recognize I have a problem with depression. Bhakti Tirtha Maharaja, for example, has much to say about that. Depression is a serious world health problem. In my case, it has affected my spiritual life. Now it is under control. But I still get depressed even by very little reverses in my life. To counteract this depressive kapha nature I have to assume the stance that gives me the most strength. And that is: 1) I must be happy, which means 2) I must be free of stressful conditions. Then I can go on as a sannyasi, and travel and preach.
Regarding the question of what younger devotees are to think about my keeping myself out of certain ISKCON entanglements, I think the answer is pretty obvious. I've been a member of ISKCON for 32 years. In that time I distributed books on the street, I was a head temple cook, I was a temple commander, I was a pujari for installed Radha-Krsna Deities, I was assistant to HH Visnujana Maharaja, I was on the BBT Library Party, I was temple president in Schoss Rettershof ISKCON temple in Germany, I was regional secretary for ISKCON Germany, I was on the GBC for more than 10 years, I am a sannyasi and an ISKCON guru. I have had my fiftieth birthday over two years ago. At this time of my life, according to the Vedic system, I should be winding down societal and institutional resonsibilities and just focusing on the essential items of spiritual life. I strongly feel I must enrich my taste for hearing, chanting, studying and preaching. Managerial matters are a drag on my consciousness. Accepting new disciples is, in terms of the ISKCON institution, very much a managerial role. It also involves preaching of course, but that I can do anyway without accepting disciples! Really, what is "extra" about accepting disciples over and above preaching is management! Now I have to put management behind me. At my age, according to sastra, that is indeed my duty. If a younger devotee in a managerial position thinks, "Oh, Suhotra Swami is giving up management, let me do the same," is that valid? To him I would say, first you do the things in this institution that I have done for as long as I have done them, then you can give up those institutional responsibilities.