Damodar Maharaja points out specific flaws in the biography from Premananda Prabhu with page numbers, and especially whether these stories can be verified. The refutations claims the stories can be verified, but points to one person who is dead and therefore can’t speak for himself. Then of course, they claim that two devotees following Premananda can verify it, whereby Damodar Maharaja claims they may be lying.
So who to believe? It goes into the heart of difficulty: “Who to trust?”
We would like to think devotees are inherently trustworthy, but that may not be so.
How do we know if somebody is a pure devotee or not? Followers of Prabhuji claims he is, KBM claims he isn’t. The followers of KBM claims Didi and Madhusudhana Maharaja is Bhagavats, others think they are imposters and fabricators.
Who to believe?
First time I met Gurudeva, Aranya Maharaja (now Prema Prajojana) said I should take Harinama from him.
Me: “But I don’t know if he is a pure devotee. Should I take Harinama if I’m not sure?”
Aranya Maharaja: “Yes”.
In some ways I was tricked into taking Harinama, but I was lucky. Gurudeva turned out to be a pure devotee. But how could I have known He was? I didn’t have the vision to know and I still don’t. My way of reasoning was that He had such a great many followers, so therefore I had to take my trust in them.
Now we are in a position where we have so many groups and differences between them. What to belive?
“The path of bhakti is very small”, I saw in a comment from one of the devotees from KBM. It’s true.
A person may have served and surrendered his life to Krishna and his Guru, but it doesn’t mean he is a Bhagavat. There may still be so much aparadha there, a desire for followers and fame. It’s possible to serve Krishna tinged with self-service.
I’m one of those. I want to live a comfortable life while being a devotee. Because of this I also know that I can’t fool around. When I decide to take siksa from someone, I want it to be authentic.
We have to guard our creeper of devotion.
Krishna will cheat us if we have some self-service in us. Many follow Gurudeva blindly. I’m not one of them, even though I have taken diksa from Gurudeva. For me this world is the real one, so if what He tells me is true, He has to prove it every step of the way. So far Gurudeva has proven it in the personal growth I have had, and that I see how what He says aligns with that. But in my perspective, Gurudeva has to prove himself to me. He’s the one with the outrageous claims of a spiritual world we can enter, so He’s gotta prove it. I will use my intelligence every step of the way.
When I first heard and saw pictures of Bhakti Vijana Bharati Maharaja I felt an attraction to him. Then the debate between KBM and the rest of the sangha happened, and I had to use my intelligence to understand the siddhanta. I found that Didi and Madhusudana Maharaja presented the siddhanta expertly and convincingly. Since then I went to Vrindavin last Christmas and will go again this Christmas. Do I believe Didi and Madhusudhan Maharaja is Bhagavats? I don’t know. I know their followers believe so. I’m still on the fence, but I find their way of challenging the status quo to be interesting. That is what makes me curious. I see how the siddhanta is presented deeper than I have been able to penetrate – that makes me curious.
What is it that makes us want to follow somebody? For me it’s about the level of siddhanta they can present. If I struggle to follow it, I love it because it challenges me to go deeper, understand more. That attracts me.
What attracts you? Why does it attract you?
Bhakti – Love is an emotion. Who to follow should not only be an emotional decision. It also needs to be grounded in intelligence. Use it whatever way you decide.