Response from KBM: The rasa of Srila Prabhupada

KBM har come with a new statement (local version since the other one is just for friends and friends friend) and a second statement where points are even more clarified based upon the public statement of Gurudeva’s sanga. KBM states that Srila Prabhupada is not a manjari and lists the evidence to this. Whenever KBM comes out with a statement, there’s always quotes like these that gets circulated:

[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?”

This is the usual absolute view of Gurudeva’s words, while KBM has a “time, place and circumstance” view and calls Gurudeva’s words a preaching tactic.

I can to a certain degree understand the preaching tactic argument, but I find it difficult to believe since Gurudeva never wavered in his convictions. If I entertain the notion that SP is a sakha then I’m more inclined to think that since Gurudeva is a manjari, he saw Srila Prabhupada according to his own mood. But this is just speculation on my part and I find it unlikely because of the length of time Gurudeva preached it.

So I’m wondering, have this kind of preaching tactic happened before by a pure devotee where the devotee has never wavered in his opinion? I seem to remember there was a reference to this somewhere.


I found this about preaching tactics where multiple examples are given:

BV Damodar Maharaja has an extensive note collection about this whole issue, and I found some notes there I wasn’t aware of. Furthermore, you can follow BV Damodar Mahajra and see public messages/notes.

Public statement: The rasa of Srila Prabhupada

Gurudeva’s sanga just made a public statement (my local version of 15. july 2015: Public Statement Final ) where they make their case based upon Gurudeva’s words (which are quite clear) and then they come up with some questions they claim haven’t been answered. Then they answer their own questions.

The statement is respectful towards Krishna Balaram Mandir, they understand that this issue may have been planned by the Lord and that they will not discuss this issue further. Furthermore, they urge for harmony in Gurudeva’s sanga.

The statement doesn’t go into details about their arguments, but gives a general overview.

So, let me dissect this statement (which is my modus operandi) being a sideline commentator, and I want to discuss the biggest issue I have with this statement first:

The problem with all this social media havoc is that Facebook discussions are very disjointed and becomes very much the responsibility of the person posting their opinions. The discussions and who contributes to them is all over the place, where any organization is lacking. If you notice all my blog posts, you see I have linked to all kinds of people, notes etc. in an effort to collect it in “one” place. Even this is hopeless as I now have numerous blog posts about this issue and even I have lost track of what and who and when I have linked to. So a public statement by Gurudeva’s sanga is refreshing, but since it’s not posted to anywhere with a proper forum there is no way to discuss even this statement. Furthermore, those who posts this statement on facebook pretty much will only hear that people that agrees and delete posts that show disagreements or discussions. This is not good behaviour.

Whenever someone tries to control the discussions by shutting it down, it usually means they have something to win by doing so. Furthermore, it’s usually unfair and disrespectful towards the other party. If you have entered a discussion, you have to deal with the internal strife and unpleasantness that follows. You have to see it through, meet the arguments of the other party and deal with it. You have to put yourself on the sideline and work yourself through it. How do you know a conflict/controversy is over? You know it when it has been quiet about it for some time, by both sides. You don’t try to clamp it down with a public statement.

You can’t post four questions and then expect them to go unanswered. While you may say you will end the discussions, it doesn’t mean the other party has agreed to it. The other party can continue the discussions and will most likely do so because there’s still something unresolved. This is the second time Gurudeva’s sanga try to control the issue by what they see as the best argument. This is bad behaviour. I don’t even use the words vaishnava etiquette, because I see these things as use of common sense.

When it comes to the four questions they post, they have actually been answered by KBM. Which is why I find their phrasing so strange. But, okey, this is a general statement so I will have to take that into consideration. Obviously, they don’t find KBM’s explanations satisfactory, which is fair.

The end is an appeal towards harmony which is probably why they try to shut down this issue. By getting everyone to sign it and ending the discussion, they try to create harmony. Which is most likely what Gurudeva’s sanga try to score (and thereby disrespect the other party).

Where we cannot agree, we will offer respect from a distance
And then there’s this. I really dislike statements where they will “offer respect from a distance”. I find it an immature act. That’s what you use when you are empty of arguments and are unable to deal with opposing views. It should be possible to disagree, but still associate with a person with the understanding that they have different understandings. If you personally need a distance, that’s fine. But putting that in a public statement? Really?
I wouldn’t sign that document even if I fully agreed (and my opinions in this matter could best be described as a Facebook relationship status: “It’s complicated”).
So I don’t know really what I think about this statement. It’s good they made one, they have some good viewpoints, but there’s things that aren’t okey with it either. And – it’s also a bit interesting to see who hasn’t signed it even though it doesn’t mean they disagree with its message.

How to reconcile differences: The rasa of Srila Prabhupada

19643_1276353746418_1157206262_30879421_1172147_nWhen should the words of Guru be accepted as absolute and when should one open up for “time, place and circumstance”? (Posts from Bhaktivedanta Suddhadvaiti Swami 2nd and 5th June 2015).

The arguments for manjari bhava comes back to wether to interpret Gurudeva’s words literal or not. For the sanga who sees Gurudeva’s words as literal, this is a clear cut case and it’s therefore seen as an annoyance and misdirection that Srila Prabhupadas rasas is questioned. Furthermore, Gurudeva sticked to his opinion for years and years (never wavering in this opinion), which makes the argument for accepting Gurudevas word as literal. For the rest of the Gaudiya Vaishnava community it has long been accepted that Srila Prabhupada was a sakha.

So  there is an apparent contradiction that we need to reconcile. So, I found this nice article about exactly this problem where Bharati Maharaja reconcile differences between Srila Prabhupada and Narayana Maharaja that Syamarani didi wondered about.

When somebody is a small child, the teacher says, “The sun rises in the East and sets in the West.” Then, when the student grows up, the teacher says, “The sun is always present – twenty-four hours daily. It never sets and never rises.” Both are true. It depends on one’s qualification for hearing and understanding.

Some qualification was there with you when you were with Srila Svami Maharaja. There were also things that he mentioned to you to help your gradual understanding, and there were things that you were not ready to understand at that time. So later, when you became more ready, Srila Narayana Maharaja could make you understand.

Srila Bharati Maharaja

Based upon my limited understanding, KBM is trying to show that there is no contradiction between Gurudeva’s words and SP being a sakha. They are trying to enter deeper into Gurudeva’s words, though whether that is a misdirection or not is beyond me.

The pure devotees seem to be seeing and describing in a different way because different pastimes are manifesting in front of them. If a particular pastimes manifests, they speak according to that.

Srila Bharati Maharaja

I do have the impression  that KBM is trying to follow what Bharati Maharaja is stating.

It’s also apparent that Bharati Maharaja is very capable to reconcile differences of opinion. After Gurudeva’s disappearance, many sought out the company of Bharati Maharaja considering him to be a pure devotee. It’s sad that he doesn’t want to get involved in this contradiction, but I can’t help thinking that if he has a differing view from Gurudeva’s sanga, then he don’t want to ruffle any feathers and therefore keeps silent.


History in the making: The rasa of Srila Prabhupada

Syamananda Prabhu made me aware of how all of this controversy started which is a nice reminder. It made me think of the history of what happened after the disappearance of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Maharaja. Read the link, really! There’s so much that happened back and forth with details that this controversy seems small and simple in comparison (though there have been other incidents, but personal ones and not philosophically).

More and more I believe there is a larger agenda to this, that Krishna wanted this to happen. I have no idea why, but it seems like history and time will be the ones to decide the outcome. We are witnessing history in the making !

Oh, how I wish I could be a part of it, be in Vrindavin where the discussions goes back and forth, tempers flare and just be close to the events as they unfold. Because this is truly history in the making.

It’s not so long ago that “they”( whoever they may be), decided to close down until “harmony was restored”. What they failed to realize that harmony will not be achieved by censorship, but by working on the issues at hand. Now that the translations of Syamarani didi is being questioned; will this be what brings the sanga together?

This is what the ipbsys wanted after Gurudeva’s disappearance; that we still stay tight. But I’m wondering how possible is this? Look again at what happened after the disappearance of  Bhaktisidhanta Saraswati Thakur where the sanga got fractured and every sannyasi pretty much built his own matha.

We have been preached to that the mentality of organization can be dangerous, that we need to attach ourselves to a guru and everything that Guru says is the pure truth coming from Krishna himself. Only a pure devotee can take us to Krishna.

Devotees are by nature very individualistic (at least that is my impression) and this is encouraged by how we are to attach ourselves to a Guru (and not organization). So is this controversy a fracture or will it bring us closer together in the end? Is it a cleanup? Does it make the parties involved more intent on their personal service?

Despite my sometimes sarcastic views, I truly find so much pleasure in this debate. It goes way beyond my qualification and understanding, and I love it !

– Your sideline commentator –