“Dovetailing Sense Gratification”
Up to now we have discussed some of the elements vital to the healthy development of an individual, and shown that the same applies to an institution.
Next, other important considerations are brought out, namely warnings from Srila Prabhupada, historical precedents about organizational derailment, and the dynamics of the human experience within the religious community. Following that we shall go on to discuss specific issues relevant to ISKCON.
Dovetailing Sense Gratification.
Srila Prabhupada has warned us that after the disappearance of the Past-Acaryas there is chaos. Historically, this is a predictable pattern that can be traced in institutions the world over. In the Catholic Church there have been many orders founded by various prominent saints; Ignatius Loyola, Francis of Assisi, to name but two. Moreover, after their departure there was chaos.
Of course, we know about Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Öhakura’s mission, because Srila Prabhupada told us how his godbrothers deviated from the wishes of their Guru Maharaja, and there was chaos. The powerful preaching that could have been accomplished by teamwork was lost, and litigation took its place. Instead of a GBC being formed, there were different opinions about how to go forward, and in Srila Prabhupada’s own words, things were interpreted in a way that “dovetails one’s own sense gratification”.
Letter to Tamal Krishna, Oct. 1969:
“The difficulty is that sometimes things are interpreted in a manner, which dovetails one’s own sense gratification. I have personal experience of this from my Guru Maharaja’s institution. Different Godbrothers made different interpretations of the words of Guru Maharaja, for sense gratification and the whole mission was disrupted.”
Generally, we in ISKCON, because we have a GBC, do not consider that the same thing—dovetailing one’s own sense gratification—could happen to us.
There is an element of naiveté in this outlook, considering that immediately after Srila Prabhupada’s departure, the movement was deviated by the Zonal Acarya bungle; despite the presence of the GBC, and, in fact, with the full sanction and encouragement of the GBC. An attempt was made to address this mistake with the alleged reform in the mid-eighties. Now, despite history, most of us assume that all is well. We want to live with peace of mind and so we need that assumption. However, that assumption can become a self-imposed lethargy if the hard evidence adds up to another conclusion.