The secret of success in Spiritual Life is Following the Orders of the Spiritual Master

What Happened to the Hare Krishna’s?
By Sriman Madhuvisa Prabhu
Chapter 6

Problems From India

A pure Vaisnava is very happy to see a person elevated in devotional service. Unfortunately, there are many so-called Vaisnavas who become envious to see someone actually recognized by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. It is a fact that no one can preach Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s message without receiving the special mercy of the Lord. This is known to every Viasnava, yet there are some envious people who cannot tolerate the expansion of this Krishna consciousness movement all over the world. They find fault with a pure devotee preacher and do not praise him for the excellent service he renders in fulfilling Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s mission.

The success of Srila Prabhupada’s preaching and his increasing number of temples and disciples all over the world caused some of his godbrothers (other disciples of Srila Bhaktsiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, Srila Prabhupada’s spiritual master) in India to become envious of him and his society.

Some of Srila Prabhupada’s godbrothers did not approve of his preaching work in the West. Srila Prabhupada had only a relatively small amount of direct association with his spiritual master and spent very little time living in the Gaudiya Math temples (his spiritual masters preaching mission).

He sometimes spoke on the Srimad Bhagavatam in the Gaudiya Math and helped with raising funds, but basically he was considered a householder and businessman. No one within the Gaudiya Math ever imagined Prabhupada would go to America to preach and spread the mission of Krishna consciousness all over the world. However Prabhupada’s ISKCON had made their tiny preaching attempts in India look insignificant.

Srila Prabhupada’s godbrothers had more personal association with Srila Bhaktsiddhanta than him and some of them had been sannyasis (renounced) for many years. If anyone was to be a world preacher surely it would be one of these advanced, renounced sannyasis who had received so much personal training from Srila Bhaktsiddhanta. In the Gaudiya Math way of things Srila Prabhupada really didn’t have much importance and no one would have considered him even a candidate as a world preacher.

The real difficulty for the Gaudiya Math began when they disobeyed the orders of Srila Bhaktsiddhanta. He instructed them that after he left his body they should make a Governing Body and conjointly manage the preaching mission in that way. He didn’t want an acarya appointed in his place as he could not see anyone qualified. But after Srila Bhaktisiddhanta’s disappearance his disciples decided to reject his instructions and elect an acarya. It was a disaster and the result was the disintegration of the Gaudiya Math and the end of the preaching. Srila Prabhupada saw all this going on and criticized his godbrothers for going against Srila Bhaktsiddhanta’s instructions but he kept aloof from it. He preached independently and went about working and planning how to execute the order of his spiritual master. Srila Prabhupada was the only disciple of Srila Bhaktsiddhanta who sincerely took his instructions in regard to preaching in the Western countries to heart and was determined to follow them. He received the blessings and mercy of Srila Bhaktsiddhanta, Lord Caitanya and Krishna and was empowered by them to spread Krishna consciousness all over the world. But his godbrothers were far from happy.

Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, the devotee who reestablished Krishna consciousness in India after unscrupulous so-called devotees had depreciated the real purpose of Krishna consciousness by performing all sorts of sinful activities in the name of Krishna, had prayed for the day when the English, the Germans, the Americans and all people of the world would come to Mayapur (the birthplace of Lord Caitanya in West Bengal) and dance and chant “Hari Bol.” Srila Prabhupada’s godbrothers couldn’t conceive how this was possible but Srila Prabhupada fulfilled this desire of Bhaktivinoda Thakura by building the Sri Mayapur Chandradoya Mandir and bringing his disciples from all over the world every year to celebrate the appearance of Lord Caitanya. This was a great achievement and a cause of joy and great celebrations for all the sincere devotees, but not all of Prabhupada’s godbrothers were happy.

In the material world generally we want to become the greatest person. If we see someone else in a superior position the tendency is to try to do something to reduce his greatness in comparison to our own position. This is called envy.

A pure Vaisnava is very happy to see a person elevated in devotional service. Unfortunately, there are many so-called Vaisnavas who become envious to see someone actually recognized by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. It is a fact that no one can preach Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s message without receiving the special mercy of the Lord. This is known to every Viasnava, yet there are some envious people who cannot tolerate the expansion of this Krishna consciousness movement all over the world. They find fault with a pure devotee preacher and do not praise him for the excellent service he renders in fulfilling Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s mission.

This envy is not the feeling of a devotee. When a devotee sees another devote who has achieved the mercy of Krishna he becomes very pleased, thinking how nice it is that the other devotee is serving Krishna so well. There is transcendental envy which is completely different from the mundane envy of the material world. A devotee may think another devotee has served Krishna so nicely and want to surpass him by serving Krishna even more. The difference is the central point and objective is to serve Krishna, there is no malice or bad feeling involved. Srila Prabhupada was able to inspire his devotees to increase book distribution more and more by encouraging this competitive spirit. Devotees competed to distribute more and more books and Prabhupada made it very clear that the more books they distributed, the more pleased he was.

Unfortunately, many of Srila Prabhupada’s godbrothers did not like the idea that he was preaching Krishna consciousness all over the world and was clearly fulfilling the desires of their spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, while they sat comfortably in India with their temples and a few disciples – but no preaching. Srila Bhaktsiddhanta had clearly instructed all his disciples with the ability to preach in English to travel to the Western countries and spread Krishna consciousness, however, most of them didn’t even travel outside India and the few that attempted had no success in preaching Krishna consciousness on foreign soil. Srila Prabhupada is the only disciple of Srila Bhaktsiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura who took his spiritual master’s orders as his life and soul and left India determined to preach in the West.

There are many disciples of Bhaktsiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, but to judge who is actually his disciple, to divide the useful from the useless, one must measure the activities of such disciples in executing the will of the spiritual master. Bhaktsiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura tried his best to spread the cult of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to countries outside India. When he was present he patronized the disciples to go outside India to preach the cult of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, but they were unsuccessful because within their minds they were not actually serious about preaching His cult in foreign countries; they simply wanted to take credit for having gone to foreign lands and utilize this recognition in India by advertising themselves as repatriated preachers. Many swamis have adopted this hypocritical means of preaching for the last eighty years or more, but no one could preach the real cult of Krishna consciousness all over the world. They merely came back to India falsely advertising that they had converted all the foreigners to the ideas of Vedanta or Krishna consciousness, and then they collected funds in India and lived satisfied lives of material comfort. As one fans paddy to separate the real paddy from useless straw, by accepting the criterion recommended by Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami one can very easily understand who is a genuine world-preacher and who is useless.

The secret of success in advancement in spiritual life is the firm faith of the disciple in the orders of his spiritual master. The Vedas confirm this:

yasya deve para bhaktir
yatha deve tatha gurau
tasyaite kathita hy arthah
praksante mahatmanah

To one who has staunch faith in the words of the spiritual master and the words of the Supreme Personality of Godhead the secret of success in Vedic knowledge is revealed.

“The Krishna consciousness movement is being propagated according to this principle, and therefore our preaching work is going on successfully, in spite of the many impediments offered by antagonistic demons, because we are getting positive help from our previous acaryas. One must judge the action by its result. The members of the self-appointed acaryas party who occupied the property of the Gaudiya Math are satisfied, but they could make no progress in preaching. Therefore by the result of their actions one should know that they are asara, or useless, whereas the success of the ISKCON party, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, which strictly follows Guru and Guranga, is increasing daily all over the world. Srila Bhaktsiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura wanted to print as many books as possible and distribute them all over the world. We have tried our best in this connection, and we are getting results beyond our expectations.”(CC Adi 12.8)

From their comfortable position in India Srila Prabhupada’s godbrothers criticized his changes in preaching Krishna consciousness according to time and place. They criticized Prabhupada’s decision to allow women to live in the temples, his taking part in the marriage of his disciples, the giving of Brahman initiation to non-Hindu’s, and many other things. Prabhupada countered them by saying that to preach in America was not the same as preaching in India and without some adjustment it would not be possible to spread Krishna consciousness all over the world. He had the results to prove it. Dozens of temples, schools and farm communities all over the world and thousands of disciples strictly following the four regulative principles (no illicit sex life, no intoxication, no meat eating and no gambling), chanting at least 16 rounds of the Hare Krishna mantra daily and fully engaged 24 hours a day in serving Srila Prabhupada and Krishna.

These envious godbrothers took every opportunity to cause trouble within ISKCON, both directly and on a more subtle level. Whenever they got an opportunity to preach to Prabhupada’s disciples they tried to crack the basic foundation of ISKCON – the devotees absolute faith in Srila Prabhupada as a bonafide representative of Krishna.

“Regarding Bon and Tirtha Maharaja, they are my godbrothers and should be shown respect. But you should not have any intimate connection with them, as they have gone against the orders of my Guru Maharaja.” (to Pradumnya Feb 17, 1968)

“…I am greatly surprised for Bon Maharaja’s initiating you in spite of his knowing that you are already initiated to me. So it is a deliberate transgression of Vaisnava etiquette, and otherwise a deliberate insult to me. I do not know why he has done this, but no Vaisnava will approve of this offensive action…”(to Mukunda Mar 26,1968)

“Regarding the Gaudiya Math books being circulated there, who is distributing? Who is sending these books? The Gaudiya Math does not sell our books, why should we sell their 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 and 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 I had written, so you teach others to do like that.” (to Sukadeva Nov 14, 1973)

“…now, one thing is I understand that in the past you were visiting Lalita Prasad and that you may also be planning to continue visiting him when you return to India. This is not approved of by me and I request you not to go and see him any more. He holds a grudge against my Guru Maharaja and even if it is transcendental it will gradually appear mundane in our eyes. Whatever is to be learned of the teachings of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura can be learned from our books. There is no need whatsoever for any outside instruction. So I hope that you have understood these matters and I pray to Krishna always for your protection and advancement in Krishna consciousness.” (to Gurukripa and Yashodananda Swamis, Dec 25, 1975)
“I am in due receipt of your letter dated Sep 3, 1975 with the enclosed statement about Bon Maharaja, so I have now issued orders that all my disciples should avoid all of my godbrothers. They should not have any dealings with them, nor even correspondence, nor should they give them any of my books or should they purchase any of their books, neither should you visit any of their temples. Please avoid them.” (to Visvakarma Nov 9, 1975)
“I can understand this cunning Puri dasa has taken advantage of your simplicity. So any 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 Puri or any of my godbrothers, so- called…(to Karuna Sindhu Nov 9, 1975)

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