© 2003 - 2013 Suhotra Maharaja Archives - Vidyagati das
HH Indradyumna Maharaja's Summer Tour, north coast of Poland
This is dated 14th August, but I am beginning this entry on the 13th afternoon.
We are staying at a rented school building. I've been at this same school in previous years' visits to HH Indradyumna Maharaja's summer tour on the north coast of Poland. This morning, when we talked briefly, he told me that this is the only school in the whole area that continues to avail itself to the devotees' use. The other schools stopped renting to the devotees because of pressure from the Catholic Church. Now Maharaja has put in a bid for the purchase of a piece of land here, nearly 100 hectares square. The deal has not gone through yet but he is confident it will. He intends to use this land as the permanent base for the tour, and as a farm that will offer devotional engagement to the people who become interested in Krsna consciousness as a result of their contact with the tour.
Maharaja explained that he and Sri Prahlada Prabhu are committing themselves more to preaching in Poland than ever before. This is because another "Math"--i.e. a spiritual organization composed largely of devotees who've left ISKCON to follow a Gaudiya Math sannyasi--has declared Poland a target for its missionary work, which means it will mainly target ISKCON devotees, enticing them to leave ISKCON and join them. This Math has in recent years made Berlin its strongest center. This past summer they held a Rathayatra in Berlin on the same day the ISKCON devotees held theirs.
I am happy Indradyumna Maharaja is meeting this challenge seriously. He is an incredibly pure and dynamic preacher. Lord Krsna will surely shower His mercy upon his efforts.
At the same time I am glad I am not on the GBC any more. Otherwise I would be in the thick of this situation, as I was in 1995 and '96 when the inside-ISKCON followers of this Gaudiya Math sannyasi first came to the GBC Body's attention. In 1996 I was the chairman of the GBC, and apart from the Srila Prabhupada Centennial celebrations, this was the leading issue of that year. For me, this was the starting point of the depression that in 1999 became unbearable.
A couple months ago a bhakta wrote to the In2-MeC email address, wanting me to explain why the GBC forbids ISKCON devotees to mix with the members of that Math. I did not answer. It's not the purpose of this Web site to be a cyberspace broadcasting station of official ISKCON policy. I've resigned from the GBC and no longer care to put energy into arguments about managerial issues. In2-MeC is not formally affiliated with ISKCON or the GBC and represents simply my own personal views.
One of the reasons why I will not involve myself with managerial issues is that experience has shown me again and again that a good number of ISKCON's own devotees are quite naive. I don't see much reasoning behind such a question--"Why does the GBC forbid ISKCON devotees to mix with the members of that Math"--other than naivete. The questioner seems to assume that each of the different offshoots of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta's original Gaudiya Math has a totally open door policy toward the other offshoot Maths, and that only ISKCON keeps its doors shut. This is not true at all. Two different Gaudiya organizations will not have a close brotherly policy toward one another. One will not permit the other's preachers to unconditionally give classes in its temples or to recruit devotees from its congregation. It is considered a breach of Vaisnava etiquette for preachers of one Math to use another Math's facilities for its own mission purposes.
Srila Prabhupada noted how naive his Western disciples were about such things, so he personally laid down strict limitations on ISKCON's relationships with other Maths.
I can understand this cunning P____ dasa has taken advantage of your simplicity. So any one of my godbrothers cannot help me in this way of book writing because they are unfortunate in the matter of preaching work. They are simply trying to infiltrate our society to do something harmful by this attempt. So please do not have any correspondence with this P____ or any of my godbrothers, so-called. And do not do anything without consulting me. You can inform this instruction to everyone and send back to me the sheets of corrections sent to you by P____. I was very much anxious to know how P____ entered in our camp. Now the matter is clear. Be careful for further dealings with such men. [To Karuna Sindhu dasa, Nov. 9, 1975]
Regarding the Gaudiya Matha books being circulated there, who is distributing? Who is sending these books? The Gaudiya Matha does not sell our books, why we should sell their books. Who has introduced these books? Let me know. These books should not at all be circulated in our Society. B____ V____ T____ is very much antagonistic to our Society that he has no clear conception of devotional service. He is contaminated. Anyway, who has introduced these books? You say that you would read only one book if that was all that I had written, so you teach others to do like that. [To Sukadeva dasa, Nov. 14, 1973]
That ISKCON's members are naive is well-known to other Maths. Therefore even now some continue to try to recruit followers from ISKCON.
"Wise men have more to learn of fools than fools of wise men."
A subtle statement. One thing that needs pointing out is that by quoting this, I am not indicating that among ISKCON devotees are some who deserve to be labeled fools. Compared to the rest of the population of the world, every devotee is the wisest of souls. But under certain circumstances, some ISKCON devotees have been known to behave a little foolishly. Particularly when they come into the association of those wiser than they.
You may ask, what more can a wise man learn from a fool than a fool can learn of a wise man? The main message of the aphorism "Wise men have more to learn of fools than fools of wise men" is that a wise man learns of the foibles of human nature by observing foolish people. But in the process, a wise man can also learn of his own darker nature. Since fools are by definition slow to take up knowledge, a wise man who is not so patient and benevolent towards the foolish can teach himself how to manipulate them, thus getting service from them without having to really teach them anything.
This has happened in ISKCON too. In my opinion, when a guru like Harikesa falls down and most of his disciples also leave ISKCON, then there couldn't have been much real teaching and learning going on in this relationship. The guru-disciple "package" must have been held together by something else than the exchange of true knowledge. Otherwise, why did the majority of disciples leave their positions of service to Krsna?
But a wise man need not learn only wrong things by associating with persons less intelligent than himself. Srila Prabhupada said even a dog has something valuable to teach a man. What is that? Faithfulness. This very Gaudiya Math sannyasi to whom a number of ISKCON devotees have gone once said that he learned guru-nistha (implicit faith in guru) from one of Srila Prabhupada's prominent disciples.
In any case, this "ISKCON-vs.-Gaudiya Math" controversy is not a subject I care to spend a lot of time on. To those who remain loyal to him, Srila Prabhupada gives everything. That much is clear. And it is clear to me that he wanted to spare his followers the confusion that accompanies controversy. Somehow or other, in matters concerning the relationship of ISKCON devotees to the Gaudiya Math, controversy inevitably raises its ugly head. Yes, for some the answer to the controversy is to leave ISKCON. Their reasoning may not entirely be without substance. It's true that ISKCONians have shown themselves to be less than wise at times; unfortunately I do not find that those who leave to join the Gaudiya Math (or who go off to form new institutions) become appreciably wiser.
What to do? Personally, I've turned my face away from the controversy. Speaking of wisdom verus foolishness, there are things a wise man should be a fool about--which means there are things that are not worth investing brain energy in. I'm too foolish to understand, what to speak of try to heal, all the reasons why devotees grow dissatisfied with their life in ISKCON and thus seek shelter elsewhere. Not that I am wise, but it seems wiser to endeavor with renewed strength to serve my Guru Maharaja than to speculate "Maybe go here, maybe go there." What I know for sure is, Srila Prabhupada was the only disciple of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura who risked everything to pull me out of hell. When common people are rescued from danger they are usually dazed and speechless afterwards. Similarly when I reflect upon Srila Prabhupada's mercy, I am overwhelmed and stunned. Too overwhelmed and stunned to give much thought to the idea of going to Gaudiya institutions other than ISKCON.
It is the plight of modern man to be uprooted from the traditional shelters of ancient varnasrama society. He is restless and uncertain, always anxious how to improve his situation. He is easily captivated by shining promises of deliverance from the ills of today's world; and he is just as easily disappointed when he realizes that deliverance comes at a price higher than he was prepared to pay. I am convinced that modernity is a disorder of the mind. The controversy between ISKCON and other Maths is, as I see it, a manifestation of this mental disorder. I had occasion some years ago in Italy to discuss the controversy threadbare with some persons who look to sadhus outside of ISKCON for answers. This experience left me convinced that there is a psychological dimension to the problem.
The personality of Kali exploits this mind disorder of modernity for his own mission of infecting the world with quarrel. I think Indradyumna Maharaja has the best answer. Never mind all the arguments, just stand and fight Kali by preaching harder!
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Now it is 3:15 AM on August 14. Yesterday at the questions and answers tent I did a yajna while Rocan did bhajan. A crowd of mostly respectful people formed to watch. There were some quite nice questions. Also a few silly ones.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
I began puja a little before 5:00 AM and finished a little after 6:30. So sweet, this daily worship. It's from this seva to the silas that I get a glimpse, just a small insight, into what "taking shelter" means. Especially when I am afflicted by thoughts of my own disqualifications, as I have been for the past couple of days. Here I am, writing of fools and wise men, but my own foolishness ought to win a prize. Still the Lord has availed Himself to me so that I may render Him some service.
One disqualification I have is lack of energy. "Those who are not enthusiastic, lazy, lethargic," Srila Prabhupada states, "cannot advance in spiritual life. Simply sleeping, they cannot make. One must be very, very enthusiastic, positive." I'm often so very tired. A few days ago I mentioned here in my journal that I thought I'd gotten heat stroke. I was woozy and had no physical energy. I laid down at 7:00 AM and slept until 4:00 in the afternoon.
I woke up today feeling similarly. It's not due to lack of rest; I went to bed last night before 9:00 PM and slept soundly. Now I feel slightly ill and so very tired. This could be an affect of depression. But I am not suffering from depression as I was several years ago. When I visit Ekatarina again in October I will get some treatment for this energy-depleted condition.
I found enough energy to give the class this morning. Preaching helps me deal with this vegetative condition I'm suffering from. Krsna supplies energy to the preacher. Still, I need to pursue a general cure for this condition. It's like the needle on my body's gasoline indicator is at best just a millimeter above E (for empty).
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Photos! Yes, we do have photos today. The first three are from my recent stay
in ISKCON Wroclaw. You see the temple from outside, the beautiful Sri-Sri Gaura-Nitai
Deities, and a class I gave there. The next three are from my current stay at
the school Indradyumna Maharaja rented. You see me speaking about the 10 offenses
at an initiation Maharaja gave the first morning of my arrival there. The last
photo is taken in the questions-and-answers tent.