Srila Prabhupada left the cure to all confusion
by Atulananda Acharya Swami
Dear brothers and sisters,
I am only writing these words because of my love for you. My name is Atulananda das. I was initiated by Srila Prabhupada in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1973. I remained in ISKCON until 1984, at which time I had to leave; victim to the politics of my spiritual brothers, i.e. zonal gurus and GBC members. This was after having opened a temple in Argentina and five in Chile, my country, with the help of other spiritual brothers, whom, at the present time, due to so much abuse, are no longer active in their service. For seven years I had to tolerate the painful decadence of the mission created by my beloved Gurudeva. I was also witness to the pride of the GBC members and gurus, their abuses, politics and evident contradictions of siddhanta. They said that they they were the genuine representatives of Srila Prabhupada's movement and that they wanted to protect it. The truth is that I, together with many of my spiritual brothers, saw Srila Prabhupada being represented less and less everyday. At the time, I thought a lot about the fact that I had been initiated by a pure devotee of the Lord, by someone free of all desires for pratistha, kanaka and kamini. I was not initiated by a group of GBC's, or gurus whose behavior he would have never accepted. I also remembered two things in particular that Srila Prabhupada had told us. One was that when Gurudeva leaves, chaos comes. This, of course, became evident as soon as he left. The second was that we should go to Srila Sriddhar Maharaj if we had any problems. Everyday, this would run through my mind, and I felt the need to follow these words as if they were my only hope. It was the supersoul screaming in my heart: Don't forget the advice your Guru has left for you!
"Forty blind men will all fall into the pond," Srila Prabhupada had once commented, "but if at least one can see it will be easy for him to save them." In this way, following the divine instructions of Gurudeva, I went to take refuge at the lotus feet of a true 'tattva-darsin,' his beloved spiritual brother, Srila Sriddhar Maharaj. Of course, as happened with many others, by doing this I became a demon and traitor of Prabhupada in the eyes of those who wanted to keep me under the dry and vast yolk of their speculations and political interests.
Gurudeva said, "Go to him if there are any problems," but many thought, 'if I just keep following the instructions of my Guru without going to another one, then I will give greater pleasure to my Gurudeva.' In this way they speculated. Gurudeva asks for a glass of water but they think that it is better to bring him some milk (tainted by the venom of their anarthas). Have you seen that one of the laws in ISKCON is that no one can take refuge in a guru that is outside of their institution? If he is a Guru, than how can one not take refuge in him? This is the deviated doctrine of the 'eka-guru-vada,' rejected by Prabhupada Bhaktisiddhanta who considered it an offense to other Vaisnavas present who can illuminate us. Please read what Srila Prabhupada writes in the Srimad Bhagavatam about the 'maryada vyatikrama' offense; that of stepping over superior Vaisnavas. Prabhupada explains this offense in the conversations between Vidura and Maitreya. Do you really think that Srila Prabhupada brought us something so simple that we can continue to cultivating it on our own? What does Gurudeva mean when he speaks of chaos? If we are going to find the solutions to our problems among the purports of his books, why do we not read where it says that we can have unlimited siksa gurus and that we can only study the Srimad Bhagavatam at the feet of a self-realized soul? I do not really wish to elaborate too much here. After all, this is only one article among the hundreds in your archives. Yet, maybe, my simple realization and message might touch someone's heart. Please know, brothers and sisters, that I now look at this chaos from the outside. I watch as the wave uncovers day by day and how no one is able to keep quiet for long about their deep dissatisfactions. Yet the cause of this chaos in simple. It is the disobedience of the advice of our Guru or Paramaguru. In a letter by Srila Prabhupada he states: "I consider Sriddhar Maharaj my siksa guru, imagine the benefit you could have in his association." This is the advice given by Srila Prabhupada. Neverthe less, the GBC only went to Sriddhar Maharaj for formal consultation. They did not see him as a siksa guru. Rather, they considered him a threat to the the power that they wanted to boast: a power by which they scarred off many simple and genuine devotees whose only goal was to satisfy Prabhupada. I, myself, in 1981, went with a committee of devotees headed by Hridayananda Maharaj to visit Sriddhar Maharaj. At the time, I was part of Hridayananda Maharaj's Sanskrit team, which is why he had asked me to accompany him. Hridayananda Maharaj told me that Srila Prabhupada had said that the translations of the Srimad Bhagavatam should be reviewed by Sriddhar Maharaj. Thus, for the first time, I was able to see and witness this great Mahabhagavata as he helped us enrich the purports that Hridayananda Maharaj had written. But, of course, the visit turned out to be useless (so as not to say offensive) because the commentaries of our well-wisher ended up on the editing floor. This is only one example among thousands. Sriddhar Maharaj said it is the war of the three 'd's: diplomacy, dollars and despotism, in stead of devotion, dedication and divinity. ISCKON has become superficial, political and ritualistic. And now, once again, we are witness to the consequences of Vaisnava aparadha. Not long ago Aniruddha Prabhu wrote a beautiful letter to VNN. His advise, in general, is good and precise. He is sorry that ISKCON did not listen humbly to the siksa that Srila Prabhupada gave us. He says, however, that in spite of being very unsatisfied with his diksa, he has not wanted to reinitiate so as to show his loyalty to ISKCON. This is a common way of thinking for many. But this way of thinking is not going to make Srila Prabhupada happy. Do you think he wanted to create a society of frustrated and unsatisfied brahmanas that had no faith in their gurus? A society without trustworthy leaders, where the participants live among political manouvers of untrustworty leaders and gurus? I consider this to be an insult to Srila Prabhupada. If ISKCON is no longer in the Vaisnava siddhanta, if there are only kanishtha adhikaris in ISKCON that do not appreciate other Vaisnavas, I assure you that Srila Prabhupada would be the first one to get out of ISKCON which so many only muse over doing today. Did my Gurudeva come to establish buildings of siddhanta? Did my Gurudeva come to accept an institution like this one where the guru is not trusted or respected? Would he be a part of an institution where hypocrisy reins? On the other hand, was my Gurudeva someone who did not love any of his spiritual brothers? I do not believe this story.
When I took refuge in Sriddhar Maharaj and read his wise and nectarian instructions, I felt more appreciation for Srila Prabhupada. I thought, 'Prabhupada is a genius. He did not only show me the Supreme Lord but also His devotee.' Since Prabhupada was a pure devotee, he could recognize another pure devotee others were not able to recognize. (Neither did I recognize this, but by following the advise of Prabhupada I was eternally benefited.) My dear brothers and sisters, at this time of confusion I recommend that you take refuge in the Vaisnavas who are truly more advanced than we. This is the advise of Srila Prabhupada. I have also read various letters by the ritviks, but they too are falling in the same grave error as the authorities of ISKCON. They do not respect other elder Vaisnavas and do not ask for their advise with humility. They can not be happy because they do not have anyone they can trust. They say that the necessity of a living guru is a speculation. Yet, to live without guru and without sadhu sanga is a definate curse. As Srila Sriddhar Maharaj explains, to live without a guru means that whatever you look upon you can not trust. While they say that there is no one like Srila Prabhupada, I say it is an offense to compare elder Vaisnavas; that whichever Vaisnava is superior to us will be a great help to us. In the same way that we have to always separate ourselves from Maya and accept Krsna, so we must always leave asad-sanga and accept sad-sanga, sadhu-sanga. Prabhupada Bhaktisiddhanta said that true sadhu-sanga is to associate with an elder devotee.
The proposal of the ritviks is unnatural, apasiddhanta, and bogus. We should pray to Krsna that he bless us with His eternal presence in the form of Gurudeva, just as Prabhupada taught us. Besides, Prabhupada wanted us to form a society of brahmanas, that is to say, of gurus: of saviors. If we have to accept that none of Srila Prabhupada's disciples can become a guru, this means that his mission was a failure. I certainly don't believe this to be true. In the same way, to think that Srila Prabhupada was the only genuine disciple of Prabhupada Bhaktisiddhanta is an aberration and very offensive to the mission of our paramaguru and our spiritual uncles, as well as something that our Prabhupada would have never tolerated hearing. Before Srila Prabhupada left, he asked his spiritual brothers to preach throughout the world. Do you think he did this as an act of diplomacy? Only a diplomat could see it that way. Today the supposed followers of Srila Prabhupada close their doors to these brothers of our guru. Srila Prabhupada brought us something practical and alive; not something dead or stagnant. It is not that there are no longer any Vaisnavas in the in the world. Prabhupada wanted his disciples to continue with the preaching and to become responsible spiritual leaders. Sriddhar Maharaj said that a small capitalist needs the support of a great capitalist. In this way, an inferior Vaisnava, taking refuge in a superior Vaisnava can begin a relief mission. This was the idea for ISKCON but the gurus began to believe that there was no one above them. Thus, the small capitalists thought themselves to be great and now they are broke. I repeat, Srila Prabhupada's instruction was so clear, and those who did not follow it are now having problems. It seems absurd to me that the "faithful followers" of Prabhupada are the ones with problems!
A devotee who does not accept other Vaisnavas is a kanistha. The leaders of ISKCON want to force Krsna to appear in their institution and subject Prabhupada to chair in their malevolent meetings. It is as absurd as thinking that Jesus Christ only walks in the gardens of the Vatican.
Brothers and sisters. I ask you to be true brahmanas and to reject the religion of terror. Brahmana means broad-minded, said Prabhupada. And Sriddhar Maharaj said that Krsna's movements are not foreseeable: they are not square. He moves in a zigzag way and you should know how to follow Him and recognize His grace wherever it manifests. O Vaisnavas! Now we also have the World Vaisnava Association so that you can know about other Vaisnavas and that the world does not begin and end in your ISKCON. Do not fear, Prabhupada will not become angry with you if you leave to look for the truth and search for purity at the feet of superior Vaisnavas. In 1984 I returned to Chile to rekindle the preaching we had begun in 1977 (that was later destroyed by the politics of my 'guardians'). This time, the preaching was reinitiated under the united inspiration of Srila Prabhupada and Sriddhar Maharaj, as well as my spiritual brother Paramadvaiti Swami. Today, we have ten temples in Chile, two agricultural communities and five sannyasis, all of whom are preaching in a homonious and beautiful way. Colombia is another success with more than twenty temples, seven sannyasis, agricultural communities, and so on. I believe the contribution of Paramadvaiti Swami and other spiritual brothers is definitely a concrete offering to the mission of our Srila Prabhupada, in addition to the many other projects in South America, Europe and India that I have not mentioned here. Tripurari Maharaj, Nrsimha Maharaj, Siddhasvarupananda Prabhu, and many others who followed Srila Prabhupada's instructions are now preaching and opening temples (while ISKCON closes theirs) giving true relief to all who approach. This is a clear demonstration that Srila Sriddhar Maharaj greatly inspired us to serve Srila Prabhupada. Today, hundreds of devotees are being inspired to do the same under Srila Narayan Maharaj and other Vaisnavas. By the grace of the Vaisnavas I have also visited other countries like Argentina, Peru and Bolivia, trying to fulfill Prabhupada's desire that his disciples be responsible, and that they preach this beautiful cause in a broad manner. This is my service to Srila Prabhupada, this is my offering to my Gurudeva, and of course, more temples will need to be opened in the future. Before, however, when I was in what you call ISKCON, I could hardly even give one class a week, and I lived in a boiler of envy and politics.
The 23rd of September will be the Vyasapuja of Srila Bhakti Promode Puri Maharaj who will be turning 101 years old. He is doing the tapasya of remaining on this Earth and blessing all the Vaisnavas that visit him in Jagannath Puri with his prema. Formerlly, he was in charge of Prabhupada Bhaktisiddhanta publications and was the headman of his Brhad-mridanga. He published hundreds of articles and installed more than eighty deities of Sri Sri Gouranga and Radha Krsna. Recently he has published The Heart of Krsna where he advises us against Vaisnava aparadha. He is also the founder and president of the World Vaisnava Association. Sri Bhaktivaibhav Puri Maharaj, at his advanced age, is travelling to the occident to preach, as is Narayan Maharaj, both of whom have Srila Prabhupada in their hearts. Oh surrendered souls! How can you think that Sri Krsna is going to leave you without the comforting of His pure devotees? Without Vaisnava sanga it is impossible to overcome the perplexities of Maya. We need guru and sadhu, even more than sastra. In ancient times books did not even exist. One should look for the self-realized sage, without whom access to the sastra would be impossible. The pure message of Srila Prabhupada can not be understood without approaching a more advanced soul. There is something very mystical about this, but Sri Krsna does not reveal himself to those who do not crave the company of His devotees. "In Krsnaloka," said Srila Sriddhar Maharaj, "we will be in the land of gurus. There," he says, "it will not be necessary to have a head, only hands will be necessary. There, we will have to walk on our heads." Srila Prabhupada did not want to leave us in a vast world - Christian style - with only one savior and all the rest condemned. He showed many gurus to us, the entire parampara, and in this way he left us a great family that we can take refuge in. In the same way Prabhupada left sixty-four temples in India and many inspired disciples with is saintly example. All Glories to the Gaudiya Math! The triumphant movement initiated by our param guru, Srila Prabhupada Bhaktisiddhanta, the lion among the givers of refuge! You should leave the "mental prison" that the institution has created to safeguard itself from its terrible mistakes. With good common sense and an objective and ample mentality, you should search for this truth that Srila Prabhupada brought us to make us surrendered, loving, happy and free devotees. By addressing this letter to you, I have not wanted to hurt or offend anyone in this moment of confusion. I have only wanted to remember the effulgent instruction that Srila Prabhupada left us. I fall at the feet of all the Vaisnavas who have come under the universal and loving banner of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.