It seems that most people have looked at this controversy as something negative: something they need to manage, a distraction, disheartening, filled with speculations, disharmonizing, misconceptions, offensive, a disturbance.
I have truly loved this controversy, from beginning to end. It might be because I’m so removed from devotee association, all I have to go on is the Harikatha. And Harikatha has been flowing like the Yamuna. I find myself going to the timeline to find Harikatha, to read it again.
What has this controversy been, but a battle of Harikatha? It’s one of the ways that Harikatha stays fresh, relevant.
How can we term Harikatha as something negative? Unless you are not actually dedicated to Harikatha? If you are truly dedicated to Harikatha, you would never give it up for a second. You could never stop the discussions/Harikatha from flowing. Or as KBM state it: Our hand is bound by sastra.
If you were dedicated to Harikatha, would you not scrutinize every word and sentence made by your opponent, looking for weaknesses and faults in all the aspects of arguments, both the opponents as well as yours?
More and more I see the public statement and those who have signed it as showing a lack of taste in Harikatha. Why would you ever stop Harikatha from flowing? How can you be inconvenienced by Harikatha?
Gurudeva’s sanga has stayed true to their decision to not discuss this issue anymore, and now KBM have come with a new statement where they say they are coming to a conclusion.
In this statement KBM looks at the misconceptions and reasons behind the opinions of Gurudeva’s sanga and discusses those. I’ve stated before that in this controversy, I have considered both sides to be right. With this statement, my view on this was challenged as they show how their conceptions is against sastra. This was a bit uncomfortable, because I then had to change my perceptions. To believe that both sides are right have been a comfortable position to be in.
This blog has been called neutral and objective, which certainly are qualities I strive for. In the field of journalism it’s a well known issue that journalists are supposed to cover issues objectively. But when you get close to an issue, you can’t help forming opinions on the subject. This is true with me as well. I can’t follow a debate as closely as this without forming an opinion. In the case of Gurudeva’s sanga, there’s just too many things that don’t add up. That they also have stopped debating this issue, gives me the impression that they have reached the end of their abilities to discuss this siddhanta.
This issue is actually a great example why we need to stay in the care of maha-bhagavats. They can dispel such things easily and we need them to make spiritual progress when we are stuck.
So what are the practical implications that I now have a different view than Gurudeva’s sanga? Personally, not a thing.
There is a saying in Norway that can be translated as such: “It’s possible to have two thoughts in your head at the same time”. The meaning is that it’s possible to entertain two differing ideas at the same time. A more subtle approach to this is that if a person who has done a lot of good, suddenly make a controversial statement on an issue (like race, sexuality and such), it’s still possible to celebrate the good a person have done while not accepting the controversial view.
For me this means that I recognize that we have differing ideas. And so what? They are working on their spiritual progress, and so am I. Everybody who is in this discussion and everybody who reads this blog is senior to me. But just as you don’t consider your qualification when you have greed, I don’t consider my qualification in spiritual life. If I did, I wouldn’t be able to write this blog.
When I first noticed the headlines about Srila Prabhupadas rasa, I didn’t think much of it because my immediate reaction was “Of course SP is a manjari”, so I dismissed it. It wasn’t until I got it pretty much spelled out that somebody disagreed that I got interested. My first blog post is 19th March, which means a lot had already happened by the time my interest was peaked. Whenever somebody challenges my perception, I get interested. I might not like it immediately, but give me a few days to mull it over and I might come around if the arguments are good. This is what happened to me in this debate, though I’ve mulled over the preaching strategy for a long time.
Examine which points of Krsna-Balarama’s statements they feel are not in line with sastra, and then examine their own points. They should sincerely search for the truth in an objective way, considering all angles. This is the procedure to come to proper conclusions of siddhanta, and this is the dharma of our devotional line.
This is what I have been trying to do in this debate when I came into it believing Srila Prabhupada is a manjari.
The glory of being wrong, is that we get the pleasure of making course adjustments when we recognize that we were wrong. Being wrong means making course adjustments until we get it right. We are just an infinite number of course adjustments away from success in spiritual life.
This blog is dedicated to working on our spiritual life. It’s about working on progress, which means you stumble, you fall, you deal with failure, you have misconceptions, you do something wrong and there’s plenty of room to do mistakes. Failures are okey, they are allowed. You just have to recognize it and make a slight course adjustment. Then keep on doing course adjustments.
So I have plenty of room for differing views and ideas and I give plenty of room to express them to me. I will not necessarily agree (and even I can turn to harshness), but it doesn’t make me react to the person itself in a negative way. I want to always side with siddhanta, and personal issues is of no interest.
Both sides are working on their spiritual life, and I have deep respect for that. As conditioned human beings we are work in progress, under construction. The person we are today will not be the person we are in 6 month, a year, several years. This is especially true when we progress spiritually. We are in the same line. We just have different conceptions, but in time even that line may become blurred as we progress and change.
As long as we stay in the association of maha-bhagavats, we will be fine. All of us.
if you have strong belief that your Gurumaharaja was in sakhya mood, I have no objection.
I am satisfied that you have a strong faith that your Gurumaharaja is in sakhya bhava.
Thus I cannot admit anything else, but I appreciate your belief that he was in sakhya bhava.
So Gurudeva has no objection to people having a different view of this. He is satisfied that others have a different view than him on this issue. He appreciate the belief, though he cannot admit anything else.
No harsh words and certainly no ban from Gurudeva in encountering a differing view.
So apparantly Gurudeva have no problem with this, so why should Bhakti America and his sanga differ?
I wasn’t aware that KBM had been banned from preaching (see bottom) in the North American Sanga’s of Srila B.V. Narayan Maharaja until a few days ago. Sooo…..
this is very isckon like, isn’t it?
So what did I do? I googled the banning Gurudeva experienced from isckon. And guess what I found in one of the official isckon papers:
Puri Maharaja also remarked that he himself knew quite well the spiritual master of Narayana Maharaja, H. H. Keshava Prajna Maharaja. He said that Keshava Maharaja never spoke of such topics. “So,” Puri Maharaja remarked, “it is a mystery where Narayana Maharaja is bringing these rasika topics in from.”
Yes… Gurudeva never spoke of such a topic. So where indeed do these KBM people get bringing these rasika topics from? It must be a mystery.
From my knowledge – Gurudeva never banned anyone, at most he warned that one shouldn’t hear from Prem Prayojana, but still he let him talk during his lectures. But apparantly, banning is now what we do.
Yes… let’s do what was done towards Gurudeva. They couldn’t possibly have some knowledge beyond Gurudevas spoken ones, so they must be wrong. And what do we do with those we disagree with?
We will have Harmony. Resistance is futile. You will comply.
These four questions are not difficult for us. We can answer thousands of your “unanswerable questions,” but you should come and discuss it with us face to face. We have already answered your questions. Now we will spoon-feed you so that you might understand more easily.
I laughed so much when I read this. As insults go – this one was nice. Very direct 😀
One of the thing that has surprised me a bit in these discussions have been the harsh statements. When I first read Bharati Maharajas statement, I was surprised that he was so harsh. I didn’t understand what the point of it was. I thought there were better ways of getting your point across – why turn to this harshness?
Now, I’ve started to really appreciate these insults and barbed points, though I’m not sure that’s a good thing or not. I certainly understand that we are unable to act perfectly most of the times, but more and more there is something that confounds me in this.
We are supposed to be humble and meek, humbler than a blade of grass, more tolerant than a tree. So where does these insults come from? Let’s say for argument sake say that both Bharati Maharaja and the preachers from KBM is pure devotees (because it makes my point so much more interesting 😀 ).
Where is the humbleness and meekness? It seems to be an apparent mystery of pure devotees which I don’t understand. It contradicts siksastakam verse 3. Sure, you are supposed to be bold like a lion when preaching and it’s the only way I’ve read where it’s okey to show anger etc. is if your Guru is being insulted. But I have not read about this anywhere. Is there any sources that can explain this contradiction? There is something about these insults/harshness that I don’t understand.
In the second question they go into the preaching strategy argument where they go into the statements Syamarani didi had in 1992. Though it’s a good example to use, I have one objection. It’s from 1992. If something I said 23 years ago was used (against me), it wouldn’t be much fun. I have done and said a lot of stupid things during my life and I wouldn’t want that to come back to haunt me.
It ends with a comment on the signing of the document and the ban on them. I can wholeheartedly put myself behind this statement though:
It’s said that harikatha is ever-fresh, ever-new. But considering we hear the same thing again and again, how do we keep it fresh? For me it’s by deeply considering the statements and by doing so I usually find things that don’t add up. Weak spots. This always results in questions. By questioning what I’m being told, I keep on being urged to go deeper in my understanding.
So I keep on finding weak spots in the arguments of Gurudevas sanga (and KBM). These are the ones I’ve found so far:
Gurudeva only speaks about Srila Prabhupadas rasa in a circumstantial way, not clearly stating his name or service.
The absolute view of Gurudeva’s words, doesn’t really hold up to scrutiny in this case.
Bhaktivinode Thakura was the one who not only revived the Gaudiya line after Mahaprabhu, but he was also the one who introduced critical thinking into our line. I wasn’t aware of this until I started reading “Hindu encounter with modernity” and was introduced to the concept of adhunika-vada:
… the confidence to follow their ancestral religious traditions by showing how those traditions could plausibly be redefined and re-appropriated according to the culture of the modern world.
Hindu Encounter with Modernity page 136 – 137
In my last post I reference The Bhagavat, Its philosophy, Ethics and Theology”, and today I found that book in my bookcase. Now I’m in awe of my bookcase! I had no idea the book was there. This is the second time I’ve found a book in my bookcase I had no idea was there. I started reading the book, but then I had to do pranam to my bookcase. My bookcase is glorious ! ki Jaya !!
The thing is: in this controversy, I look at both sides and I can’t really fault any of them. I’m in the position where I find both being right. There is nothing wrong in being absolutely loyal to Gurudevas words, it’s commendable! The only problem I have with their position is that it’s devoid of progress. If you read closely at the public statement they don’t really even consider KBM’s statements, just utterly refute them. Furthermore, they admit that they have sought external guidance which indirectly admits that they are a bit above their head in this debate. Again, to admit this is very mature.
KBM is meeting every response and conceptions and there is so much deep siddhanta coming from them.
The problem is that even by me questioning Gurudeva’s words, I’m not a true disciple in their estimation and therefore prone to concoction. That I’m prone to concoction is true, because I’m too conditioned. But does this makes me less of a disciple and therefore lost touch with my Gurudeva? In other words, will it make me unable to advance spiritually?
I take refuge in these words from Bhaktivinode Thakura:
In fact, most readers are mere repositories of facts and statements made by other people. But this is not study. The student is to read the facts with a view to create, and not with the object of fruitless retention. Students like satellites should reflect whatever light they receive from authors and not imprison the facts and thoughts just as the Magistrates imprison the convicts in jail! Thought is progressive. The author’s thought must have progress in the reader in the shape of correction or development. He is the best critic, who can shew the further development of an old thought: but a mere denouncer is the enemy of progress and consequently of Nature.
The Bhagabat: Its philosophy, its Ethics and its theology Page 1 – 2 by Bhaktivinode Thakura
You must yourself knock at the door of the inexhaustible store of truth from which the former ages drew their wealth. Go, go up to the Fountain-head of truth where no pilgrim meets with disappointment of any kind. Vyasa did it and obtained what he wanted. We have been advised to do so. Liberty then is the principle, which we must consider as the most valuable gift of God. We must not allow ourselves to be led by those who lived and thought before us. We must think for ourselves and try to get further truths which are still undiscovered. In the Bhagavat we have been advised to take the spirit of the shastras and not the words. The Bhagavat is, therefore, a religion of liberty, unmixed truth and absolute love.
These words found at the beginning of “The Bhagavat, Its philosophy, Ethics and Theology” were originally spoken by Bhaktivinode before an audience of Bengali intellectuals at Dinajpur in 1869.
– The start of the first chapter of the book “Hindu Encounter With Modernity” –
[Srila Narayana Maharaja:] “Does any disciple have the right to correct his guru’s explanations, words, writings or anything about him? No. If you don’t understand something, you can ask him in this way: “If I am qualified to understand, kindly explain this.” If any disciple thinks, “I am superior and I know better than my Gurudeva,” he is actually not a disciple, but rather a demon. Before accepting a Guru one can consider whether or not he is qualified, but after accepting initiation, one should obey. One has no right to change any of his Guru’s words. If he changes them, where is anugatya, the taking of guidance?”
Often preachers in Gurudeva’s sanga have quoted statements like these, as a veiled insults towards KBM. This is the kind of subtleness I really appreciate, a beauty of barbed communication. I write a blog, so I can’t help that I love words, phrases and how they dance together.
“Sometimes we think, “Oh, I know more than my Gurudeva. I know that he does not understand what I’m understanding.” Sometimes we think like this, but this is an offense, and this is why we don’t realize anything. This is why transcendental realization never comes to us…….Don’t have any doubt in your bona fide Gurudeva; otherwise you’ll be ruined. All your transcendental faith will be ruined forever. I see doubts in some persons, and become very worried for them.”
Srila Gurudeva Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja
A lot of the main arguments to Gurudeva’s sanga hinges on the absoluteness of Gurudeva’s words.
Srila Sridhara Maharaja has also stated: “So, the absolute and relative principles are always clashing. They will seem to fight with one another, but the absolute should be accepted and the relative should be sacrificed.” Therefore, where there is an apparent contradiction in the instructions of the guru, it is the first duty of the disciple to reconcile contradictions, to avoid “having to take” a relative view of Guru. This may seem difficult, but, as Srila Prabhupada has written, “it is quite possible for the Absolute to reconcile all opposing elements.”
This is what Gurudeva has spoken on the controversy between Vaishnavas:
“Whatever is spoken by pure Vaisnavas is true and utterly free from any bias or party spirit, but there is a mystery surrounding their apparent verbal disagreements. Those whose intelligence is materalistic and lacks the spirit of devotion cannot fathom the deep secrets of the loving controversies between pure Vaisnavas, and thus they wrongly conceive of such great personalities as philosophical adversaries”…”Different visions of the variegated pastimes in Goloka are realized according to one’s level of qualification. Thus, it is difficult for one to establish a fixed conclusion to determine which aspects of those varieties of visions are illusory and which are pure. Therefore, there is no need to argue and counter argue about this matter, because it will NOT elevate one’s qualification. The truth of Goloka is filled with inconceivable bhava, and any attempt to investigate this inconceivable reality by the mind would prove as unproductive as threshing empty husks. Hence, one should disregard the method of empirical knowledge, and strive for realization through the practice of unalloyed devotion.”
Raga vartma-candrika by Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja
Surely, we are to accept Guru as absolute, but I often find myself questioning what is truly meant by their words. To me it seems like quotes that are absolutes have many levels of understanding connected to them. I see more than black or white, absolute or relative. I see shades of grey and a multitude of colors.
So even though I well understand the points made about how we are not supposed to think we know more than Gurudeva, I still think this is just one shade of the truth, one color of many. Why?
Because a disciple can receive inspiration from His Guru and reveal something His Guru did not.
ei bhakti-rasera karilana, dig-darasana
ihara vistara mane kariha bhavana
CC madhya 19.235
“I have simply given a general survey describing the mellows of devotional service. You can consider how to adjust and expand this.”
This is my effort to link to all resources/viewpoints from all sides of this issue and it’s easiest to do when its in notes/letters form instead of facebook status. I will without doubt have missed a lot of the points, so please share what I’ve missed and I will add it. Whatever I have left out has not been on purpose, but because of the disorganized nature of Facebook discussions.
On the bottom there is direct statements/evidence that doesn’t fit in the timeline.
04th August 2015 – Nemi Maharaja: No title and since it’s not a note, it’s not possible to link to. (Local version) Nemi Maharaja quotes this article about Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura. This is response to KBM statement from 23rd July 2015 (question number 3). Audio file of the quote.
2008: 10:55 minutes in (Sripad Bhagavat Maharaja: This Sannyasi is saying that Srila Prabhupada my Swami Maharaja in in Sakhya rasa, he is a priya-nama-sakha. That is his conclusion. His idea. Srila Gurudeva: Oh, he is quitely wrong.)
Lecture given by Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja in Badger, May 18, 2003 where Srila Gurudeva gives an indication of the svarupa of Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami, ABHAYA -SAKHA, A priya narma sakha of Radha-Krsna:
“Bhajahu re mana has been a favorite bhajana in our guru-parampara, and Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja used to sing this song, weeping and his heart melting. Bhajahu re mana, sri nanda-nandana abhaya-caranaravinda re. He was meeting with the inner, transcendental meaning of his own name, and he used to weep.”
His Grace Bhakti Nandana Swami Maharaja (one if Sridhar Maharaja’s dicsciples) on how SP is a priya-narma sakha:
sarva-bhüteñu—within all beings; yaù—who; paçyet—sees; bhagavad-bhävam—mood or bhäva towards Bhagavän; ätmanaù—his own; bhütäni—and all beings; bhagavati ätmani— within Bhagavän; eñaù—that person; bhägavata-uttamaù—is the uttama Bhägavata.
One who sees his own bhagavad-bhäva, ecstatic mood of attraction towards Çré Kåñëacandra, in the hearts of all jévas (sarva-bhüteñu) and sees all beings within Çré Kåñëacandra is an uttama-bhägavata. (An uttama Vaiñëava perceives that all living beings love Bhagavän with the same particular feeling of transcendental love that he himself cherishes towards his iñöa-deva. He also perceives that Bhagavän feels a reciprocal attitude of love towards all living beings. An uttama Vaiñëava has no disposition other than this). (Jaiva Dharma)
Updates 24th June 2015: Added Mukunda prabhus notes. 22. july 2015 with the following:
Added note: Conclusions on Sthayi-Bhava and Nityananda-Sakti-Avesa (dated March 20, 2015)
Added note: Gurudeva Never Said Srila AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja is a Manjari (dated May 29, 2015)
Added note: Proper Faith in Guru is the Backbone of Bhakti (dated June 15, 2015)
Changed: The first KBM paper on your Timeline is actually entitled In the Transcendental World All are Very Sweet, dated March 4, 2015.
Changed: The third KBM paper is entitled Priya Narma Sakha Subala is Not Sambhoga-Icchi-Mayi (in Sambhoga-Rasa). To Think so is Apasiddhanta. The date needs to be corrected to April 1, 2015.
Changed: The original date on the 5th KBM paper entitled Srila AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja Reveals His Seva is May 29, 2015.
Changed: Rebuttable to Mukunda dated March 18, 2015 was not generated by KBM, but by BV Suddhadvaiti Maharaja independently.
Added ban of KBM.
23rd July 2015: Added KBM paper
24th July 2015: Added lilasuka prabhus private darshan.
26th July 2015: Added Bhakti America statement
28th July 2015: Added KBM statement
04th July 2015: Added Nemi Maharaja statement, evidences
07th August 2015: Added SRILA BV NARAYAN EXPLAINS WHERE WE WILL FIND ACARYAS IN THE SAKHYA MOOD to evidence section
8th August 2015: More evidence
9th August 2015: Added Madana Gopal dasas statements in the evidence section.
24th August 2015: Added Bhakti Nandana Maharajas lecture on SP svarupa.
30th August 2015: Added postings by Bhagavat Maharaja and Syamarani didi in the evidence section.
10th September 2015: Added posting by Nemi Maharaja
19th September 2015: Added second post by Nemi Maharaja
Gurudeva used to open festivals by glorifying Srila Prabhupada and speak about their relationship. He spoke so much about Srila Prabhupada that it would be easier to ask: “Which lectures didn’t he speak about Srila Prabhupada”, than list all the ones he did.
Still, in all the documentation I have read from Gurudevas sanga, and in all the books/lectures I’ve read, not once have Gurudeva revealed Srila Prabhupadas name and service.
“Srila Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja and my Gurudeva are
both serving there in their female forms as gopis. In that realm my Gurudeva is Vinoda Manjari, Srila Prabhupada Bhaktisiddanta Sarasvati Thakura is Nayana Manjari, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura is Kamala Manjari, Srila Jiva Gosvami is Vilasa Manjari, Srila Rupa Gosvami is Rupa Manjari, and Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami is Rati Manjari. These manjaris can serve Radha-Krsna Conjugal.”
Dhrstadyumna dasa: And our Srila Prabhupada?
If you fully surrender, by body, mind, words and ego, then I
may tell you. Otherwise, I will not. I know who he is, but you do not know. None of the ISKCON leaders know. Your Prabhupada has cheated them all, in the sense that he has not revealed himself to them at all. He is rati-keli-siddhyai ya
yalibhir yuktir apeksaniya
Gurudeva sticks to his argument about Srila Prabhupada being a gopi and he talks generally around the moods, but he never reveal anything about Srila Prabhupada specifically. He has no qualms about revealing these things of the other Gurus in our line; but Srila Prabhupada – Nothing! Nada. Zip zero.
This is very, very, very strange! If somebody can show me this is not the case, I would love to receive Gurudeva’s revelation. But so far, Gurudeva only speaks about Srila Prabhupadas rasa in a circumstantial way, and therefore leave A LOT of room for interpretation.
No information on name and specific service. That is how expert communicators get around issues – they know how to play with definitions and phrasing.