Mysterious moods of communication: Rasa of Srila Prabhupada

KBM has released a new statement (They are Unable to Touch Srila Gurudevas Heart) where they answer the questions posed by Gurudevas sanga.

The post itself begins in an entertaining way:

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:

This is for high- class devotees to reconcile.

6 thoughts on “Mysterious moods of communication: Rasa of Srila Prabhupada

  1. Srila Sridhara Maharaja:

    “It is mentioned in the scriptures by Jiva Goswami that according to one’s own particular status, these things should be taken into consideration and the necessary things should be done. He has given his decision that if the devotee has a position of power, if he is a king, and if someone repeatedly blasphemes a real Vaishnava, or saintly person, then the king should enforce corporal punishment by banishing the offender from his state or by cutting out his tongue (vaisnava nindaka jihva hata). That is not the duty for ordinary persons; if they act in such a way, there will be a riot. We should not be eager to inflict physical punishment upon anyone.

    Hanuman is a Vaishnava, but he is seen to destroy so many lifes. The same is true of Arjuna and so many other devotees. Even Krishna and Ramacandra are also seen to kill so many demons in war. Simply a physical show of meekness does not constitute the real meaning of humility. When there is an insult to the Guru or the Vaishnavas, a devotee will oppose the blasphemers according to his might.”

    • But today the act of “strong words” (to say it lightly) turn people away. What will be achieved by this?

      … and I still don’t understand it. 🙂

      • I find it enigmatic. Recently I was asked something similar: “How is it that blessings come through chastisement?”. Something like that. I have no clear cut answer, but here are two meditations. Perhaps they can be read with a view to create?

        Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura:

        “There is no doubt that the words of the sadhu possess the power of destroying the evil propensities of ones mind. The sadhus in this way benefit everyone who associates with them.’ There are many things which we do not disclose to the sadhu. The real sadhu makes us speak out what we keep concealed in our heart. He then applies the knife. The very word ‘sadhu’ has no meaning other than this. He stands in front of the block with the uplifted sacrificial knife in his hand. The sensuous desires of men are like goats. The sadhu stands there to kill those desires by the merciful stroke of the keen edge of the sacrificial knife in the form of unpleasant language. If the sadhu turns into my flatterer then he does me harm, he becomes my enemy. If he gives me flatter, then we are led to the road that brings enjoyment with no real well-being.”

        And secondly, this is how a godsister of mine processed an event she had lost sleep over. Our Guru Maharaja had been harsh towards a couple of his godbrothers who even agreed with him, but I believe he found them complacent:

        “When I first read the above posts, I was bewildered by what I saw as strong statements of my spiritual master, Swami Tripurari, against the opinions and even character of well-wishers. I am used to him chewing up small-minded, apasampraday-infused and confused people who attack him on all levels out of ignorance or envy. But this, not these people – people who have genuine appreciation for my gurudeva and his service; a few broad-minded souls brave enough to admit their respect and appreciation for him in public, in writing. There are many people associated with ISKCON who appreciate Swami Tripurari – some who come to him for advice, some who are pleased to place their disciples under his guidance, but few, if any, out of one fear or another, would admit such a thing in public. So when Satyaraja, Badarayan, and Dhanurdhara Maharaja laid out the evidence for their side of the argument in a way that gave space and even validation to my gurudeva’s vision, I wanted to see them garlanded for playing nice. But instead, their appreciations were apparently back-handedly dismissed. I thought throughout the night and early this morning, “what am I missing? I know he has the fighting spirit, and loves to spar with opponents for the sake of clarifying siddhanta, but these are “friendlies”, what is the lesson to be learned here?”

        Putting my ego aside, just for a brief moment, laying down my need to have my guru’s service praised or appreciated, I heard the lesson. THAT was the lesson. That I needed my guru praised, appreciated – but that is certainly not what my guru needs, wants or cares for. I heard my words again, “He spars for the sake of clarifying siddhanta.” I would have settled for the appreciation, shaken hands, felt good about myself and left the siddhanta out swinging in the breeze. So I re-framed my approach, from the side of siddhanta rather from my sentiments for my guru.”

      • Thank you. Especially the last one, it was instructive.

        You know, I was thinking “Well, why was Bharati Maharaja so harsh towards KBM then?”
        But then it came into my mind that he was so for the benefit of Gurudevas sanga, it might not have anything to do with KBM. I don’t know what benefit that is – that’s the enigmatic part, I guess.

        I have to contemplate more about this. Especially about how to crush my own ego. It’s a bit easy to praise myself when I receive so much likes & shares, and I don’t want my ego further inflated. (Love anything you have on this as well).

      • I immediately felt that Bharati Maharaja’s words were nothing personal against KBM. My diksa guru said about him that Saraswati is on his tongue when he speaks. For whatever it’s worth, this is how his words came across to me: “Relax, they are not out to hurt you, and they won’t.”

        A friend said that Thomas Merton’s “The Silent Life” was the most comprehensive assault on the ego that he had ever read. Here is the section that stood out to me the most:

        I also found Guy Ritchie’s movie Revolver helpful.

  2. I’m starting to think that one of the aspects of this debate is to show who one can seek shelter of: Bharati Maharaja and/or KBM. More and more I also understand that this harsh language works as a knife that cuts at our egos and pride (which are our greatest enemies of progress). If we hear something that makes us feel a pinch, then that’s our ego at play. If we hear praise and it makes us feel elation, that’s ego. We are to be aware of these feelings.

    The merton text do describe the ego well. Never seen the movie though 🙂

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