Sri Radha Govinda, Amsterdam NL

Sri Radha Govinda, Amsterdam NL
Sri Radha Govinda, Amsterdam NL (Personal Deities)

08 January 2008

Some Comments on Crticism

Lets face it, no sincere devotee likes to criticize another devotee. Fault finding is foreign to a devotee. We address each other as Prabhu and that term leaves absolutely no room for criticism. Quite the contrary. Even the most abject beginner full of material imperfections, if he chants Hare Krsna and accepts the process of Krsna consciousness he or she is to be considered a vaisnava and to criticize such a devotee is vaisnava aparadha. However, if someone uses the position of devotee to mask some ulterior motive or if someone accepts a position in the devotee community to further some hidden agenda, then criticism is not only allowed, it is mandatory, and to not expose the fault implicates one in the deception.

We don’t like to see senior devotees criticized. We don’t like to see certain gurus and sannyasis criticized. However, these devotees accepted a position of high responsibility and esteem in the devotee community and the community has the right to expect from them a behavior fully commensurate with that position.

If you present yourself for who you are, without pretense or duplicity, despite myriad faults, no devotee in his right mind will criticize you. However, if you pretend to be who you’re not, if you have a history of crooked dealings based on diplomacy and deceit, if your position has been achieved and is maintained through politics and manipulation then not to criticize you is aparadha to Srila Prabhupada, to his movement, and to what he stood for. Those in leadership position in ISKCON are expected to do their service according to the standards Prabhupada set up. These standards are no secret and are well known to the larger percentage of his disciples. Spiritually speaking, the difference between the times when Prabhupada was with us and now is like day and night. No wonder some of us find fault. We find fault not because we are addicted to fault finding. No. We find fault because fault is there.

04 January 2008

Srila Prabhupada on What is Guru

“But the spiritual master does not think of himself as Hari. Although he's offered the respect of Hari, he thinks himself as humble servant of Hari and all others. A spiritual master takes his devo..., disciples as his spiritual master. That is the position. He thinks that "Krsna has sent me so many spiritual masters." He does not think himself as spiritual master. He thinks himself their servant. Because they have to be trained. Krsna has appointed him to train them. Therefore he thinks himself as servant of the disciples. This is the position. So when one is advanced, he can see the importance of devotees. Advanced devotee never disobey or disrespect another devotee. Disrespect to another devotee is a great offense. Vaisnava aparadha. Vaisnava aparadha is very serious offense. Therefore we teach to address amongst the devotees, "Prabhu", "Prabhu", "Such and such Prabhu." This should not be simply spoken by the lips. It should be realized. Everyone should think other devotee as his prabhu, master. Not he should try to become master.” (The Nectar of Devotion Lectures, Vrndavana, October 23, 1972).

Recently I read an interesting comment to the effect that in the devotee community, instead of discussion who is guru, we should be discussing what is guru. In the preceding comments Srila Prabhupada highlights three of the important symptoms a real guru manifests: One, he thinks himself as servant of all others. Two, he personally takes responsibility to train his disciples and, three, he treats all devotees, big and small, as prabhu or master. To speak frankly, my biggest disappointment during my tenure as a regional secretary in ISKCON during the first six or seven years of the Zonal Acarya farce was the utter disregard of the local zonal guru to spend any time to train his disciples. Unlimited time and discussion covering every detail of the initiation ceremonies, that was taken, but for training post-initiation? Practically nothing. And that hurt my heart, my service and, ultimately, my faith. In fact, it has taken me the best part of twenty years to fully recover.