By Gauridasa Pandita Dasa
I would like to respond to the story "Questions about Bangalore, Bombay Meetings
" by my old Radha Damodara buddy, Sri Rama Prabhu. Sri Rama mentions in his article on VNN, that I had my chance at the San Diego
GBC Guru debate of 1990 to tell what I personally heard Srila Prabhupada say in regards to future initiations in ISKCON. Not really! If you watch that debate [banned; but still available] you will see that I was cut off and the whole debate ended too soon; within three hours time. Everyone agreed we needed more time and another debate. This resolution for another debate at Mayapur was voted on and passed by the 200+- GBC's and devotees that were present and who acted very nicely. Instead of following that resolution and allowing another debate/discussion on the guru issue, the GBC at Mayapura passed a resolution banning any such debate and talk in any ISKCON Temple. This is offensive to Srila Prabhupada who gave those very instructions that they 'banned' and the Vaisnava tradition of debate.
I just read Narasimha Prabhus' "Response To Sri Rama
" on VNN and I am very impressed. So I don't need to respond to the points already made therein. Please read the article! It gives me hope to see such common sense writing among all of the speculative writings out there. Devotees like Narasimha Prabhu should replace some of the stubborn and insensitive members of the GBC. Then honest communications and real reform can take place. The 'good old boys club' will be no more and 'the Blue Boys club' will lead the Sankirtan Movement and uplift the world.
To this date no GBC has responded to my repeated requests for more discussion on the guru issue. Tamal Krishna Maharaja has not responded to my open letter to him that was posted on VNN and sent all over the internet. My intention is not to blaspheme anyone by any means. My intention is only to follow the orders of Srila Prabhupada. And those orders are for ISKCON to follow the ritvik initiation system. If we would have done this from the beginning we wouldn't be having the problems we are having today. Devotees are threatening mass suicide and revolution from ISKCON. etc. There are so many camps because of this deviation of not following Srila Prabhupada's orders of July 9th 1977. If the Russian devotees do commit a mass suicide it would be the darkest day in ISKCON's history. We will be branded with the 'Cult' label and even less people will want to join. This would be a major disaster. We must try to stop this by all means. We need open communications with the GBC now!
In the last year I have visited the San Diego Temple a few times and had bad experiences with Badrinarayana, the GBC, every time. On Sri Radhastami last year I went and was sitting taking the feast when Badrinarayana Prabhu came in from the other side. Seeing me he put his hand on his head and proclaimed, "Oh no! What are you doing here!" This was from all the way across the packed temple room. Then he walked up to me and said it again. I explained that I had simple come to the festival to honor Srimati Radharani. I explained that I used to come to the Radhastami Festivals in San Diego
with Visnujana Swami who was very fond of the San Diego
Radharani. Besides his own Radha~Damodara Radharani; this was his favorite Radharani. He commented on how beautiful and merciful this Radharani was/is. Badri then said that we don't want any talk of ritvik. I said ok; but that just sparked the interests of many devotees around who invited me to their homes to hear the facts of the matter. On another visit I was asked to step outside with Badri where he got nose to nose with me and said that I could come to the temple but if I mentioned 'that word' [ritvik] I would be kicked out so fast my head would spin. On my last visit I was tapped on the shoulder and told the GBC wants to talk to me on the phone within minutes of being in the Temple room. He repeated the same thing and said we don't have time to discuss the guru issue and if I tried I'd be finished. I hope he/they can find the time before it's too late! It's been hard to try to be Krishna conscious with this type of intimidation. I haven't returned to that temple since and will not attend Sri Radhastami there this year.
Even though I am a witness to the events in 1977 wherein Srila Prabhupada made his departure plans no GBC even cares to hear what I have to say. Last week Guru-Prasada Swami was here in LA and I gave him my report, "On My Behalf" to read. I asked a devotee who was traveling with him days later if he had read it and he said no. He said the Swami said that I was "the low man on the totem-pole" among Prabhupada's servants. That's true but I still heard what I heard and my lowly position doesn't change the truth. I actually had hope for this Swami because in the past he was very humble and open-minded, but now again, I am disappointed.
I have discussed the guru issue with Hridayananda Maharaja; Navayogendra Swami and Bhakti Tirtha Swami. Hridayananda got very angry after two hours and became intolerable. He would not let me speak and said ritvik was for only while Prabhupada was present. When I quoted the May 28th conversation where Satsvarupa Maharaja asked Srila Prabhupada how initiations would go on 'after his departure' and Srila Prabhupada said he would, and did, appoint officiating acharyas or ritvik's, Hridayananda Swami went ballistic. At that point I decided I was wasting my time and left. Navayogendra Swami met with Krsnakant Prabhu and I for 3 hours and accepted the fact that Srila Prabhupada wanted the ritvik system and said he would be a ritvik if the GBC didn't kick him out. Since they have banned ritvik initiations he is holding off but has his initiates offer their foods to Srila Prabhupada with the traditional mantras. This is an important step forward. Bhakti Tirtha was very open and nice. I met with him last November in LA and he patiently listened to the facts of the matter. After which he commented that he thought that Srila Prabhupada had sent me to him. He sent me a letter later saying the same thing and he promised me 'major changes within ISKCON within a year'. Major changes are happening but I don't see the GBC being anything but reactive. They seem to have their collective heads in the sand. And it's not the 'dust of Vrindavan' unfortunately! If our President can be called to task why can't Tamal K.G. and the GBC? In time we all will get our karma; from Lord Brahma
down to the Indra-gopa germ. But why let Srila Prabhupada's mission suffer just so we can enjoy a little profit, distinction and adoration; by claiming ourselves diksa gurus for a short while? Prabhupada is our Lord birth after birth. From him comes ecstatic Prema; by him ignorance is destroyed!
So now it is more urgent than ever that the GBC meet and discuss this matter for the betterment of ISKCON. It would be better to continue the San Diego
format with an open debate for those concerned who can behave in a Vaisnava fashion. Will the GBC finally respond? Will it take a 'mass suicide' to get them to talk? I hope not!
This guru issue will not be resolved in one meeting; but let us start to communicate openly and honestly and let all of the assembled Vaisnavas judge the results. Let us do what Srila Prabhupada said and nothing more or less! What have we got to lose?
Your servant, Gauridasa Pandita Dasa