Aspects of Vaisnava Theory & Practice
Rasing Our Spiritual Standards
Chapter 10
The Conscience of ISKCON “II”
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Part 3

Maya Can Exploit the ISKCON Society for Years and Years

If people caught up in subtle are not identified, rescued, and rectified, they can go undiscovered for a lifetime; then maya can exploit the society for years and years. If we have people among us capable of spotting and nipping these things before, they fester, that is a great boon to those individuals and to our society. We need to practice sharpening the saw as individuals and as an organization. This idea was already sanctioned by Srila Prabhupada in Letter to Rupanuga Dasa in 1972:

“Now I want that we shall concentrate on making our devotees Krishna conscious and ourselves becoming Krishna conscious, and not be so much concerned with expanding ourselves widely but without any spiritual content. Just like boiling the milk, it becomes thicker and sweeter. Now do like that, boil the milk.”

Letter to Hamsaduta 1972:

“Now I am feeling very much inclined for retiring behind the scenes to translate my Srimad-Bhagavatam. This means that now you all leaders, especially the GBC members, must become very much responsible and do the work that I am doing to the same standard. So I want you leaders especially to become very much absorbed in the philosophy of Bhagavad-gita, Srimad-Bhagavatam, and become yourselves completely convinced and free from all doubt. On this platform you shall be able to carry on the work satisfactorily, but if there is lack of knowledge, or if there is forgetfulness, everything will be spoiled in time. So especially you must encourage the students to read our books throughout the day as much as possible, and give them all good advice how to understand the books, and inspire them to study the things from every point of view. In this way, by constantly engaging our tongues in the service of the Lord, either by discussing His philosophy or by chanting Hare Krishna, the truth is that Krishna Himself will reveal Himself to us and we shall understand how to do everything properly. Now we have got so many students and so many temples but I am fearful that if we expand too much in this way that we shall become weakened and gradually the whole thing will become lost. Just like milk. We may thin it more and more with water for cheating the customer, but in the end it will cease to be any longer milk. Better to boil the milk now very vigorously and make it thick and sweet, that is the best process. So let us concentrate on training our devotees very thoroughly in the knowledge of Krishna Consciousness from our books, from tapes, by discussing always, and in so many ways instruct them in the right propositions.”

Boiling the milk is nondifferent from the concept of sharpening the saw.

Recall at this point Srila Prabhupada’s statement in the Caitanya-caritamåta Madhya 1.218:

“There are many jealous people in the dress of Vaisnavas in this Krishna consciousness movement, and they should be completely neglected.”

I do not claim to know who these jealous people are, However, I do know they are “Not Pot Washers.”  They are in positions of influence where they may exploit the society. When Prabhupada says “they should be completely neglected”, he does not mean left alone to carry on with their agenda. He means they should not get the facility to carry on. And the only way we will be able to detect them so we can neglect them is to hone our critical thinking to a fine point.

We have to boil the milk. If we encourage those capable of sorting the data and giving critical feedback, it will boil the milk, it will serve as a conscience for the “jealous people”, and maybe they will curtail their questionable conduct. If those who are unwilling to cooperate go away, that will be their loss: If they are so insincere that they will not improve themselves, then ISKCON is not losing; it is gaining.

We have sannyasis who live lavishly, more so than householders; we have the phenomenon of sannyasis who have their disciples build them houses in Vrindavana, something which Srila Prabhupada condemned in the Light of the Bhagavat; we have sannyasis who elicit the details of their disciples’ sex-life; we have sannyasis who give saris to women as presents; we have gurus who play tennis with their female disciples; we have sannyasis who give reiki to women; and sannyasis with bank accounts. In short, we have a mess on our hands in the name of Krishna consciousness.

Once, in Vrindavana, I overheard some teenaged gurukula boys talking. One started out by saying how disgusted he was with sannyasis who have houses in Vrindavana and on the pretext of yukta-vairagya do not live simply. Then another boy cracked a joke.

“How do you fit 20 ISKCON gurus in a small car?”

When all the other boys said they did not know, he gave the answer:

“You put a new bhakta in the car”

This brings us to another topic, the rampant use of the sannyasi/guru position to simply recruit followers. Actual training in Krishna consciousness to bring people to the point of asammoha, freedom from doubt and delusion, is lacking. In its place we ingrain uncertainty, fear, self-doubt, and dependence. However, at the conclusion of hearing Bhagavad-gita, Arjuna declared in Bhagavad-gita 18.73:

“My dear Krishna, O infallible one, my illusion is now gone. I have regained my memory by Your mercy. I am now firm and free from doubt and am prepared to act according to Your instructions.”

This is what a life of Krishna consciousness should engender in us.

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