Sunday, 18 March 2012

The History Of Vaishnava Heritage Part-9 (B)

 I am talking about just a hundred and thirty years ago. Bhaktivinod Thakur could not find. Finally, he found it in a village in Orissa. That was it. As he started to read Caitanya Caritamrita, Bhaktivinod Thakur was sold out. Of course, our understanding is that Bhaktivinod Thakur is an eternal associate of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Still, the way the pastime goes, in the beginning, Bhaktivinod Thakur did not know about Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. he did not have any understanding about the profundity of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's teachings. Then, when he became exposed, he was completely sold out to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Then Bhaktivinod Thakur started to print books and write himself. Bhaktivinod Thakur has written some books that are actually the most brilliant presentations. Of Gaudiya Vaishnava Siddhanta. There is one book I will suggest you all read. It is called Jaiva Dharma. It is the essence of the entire Vedic understanding in today's context. In this way, Bhaktivinod Thakur presented and he wrote. Bhaktivinod Thakur's biography says that he used to go to bed around seven thirty, eight o'clock. He used to get up at twelve o'clock, chant his rounds, and then begin to write until about six or six thirty. Then he would take a little break, take his bath and go to work. He was the Deputy Magistrate, so naturally, he had lots of responsibility and heaps of work to attend to, but he would finish up all his work by three O' clock in the afternoon and come home. In this way, his life was so full of productive activities. In this way, Bhaktivinod Thakur started the revival of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's sankirtan movement. When Chaitanya Mahaprabhu came, He spread His movement very quickly throughout India. Even after Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's disappearance, the movement was spreading with a tremendous momentum, mainly by the push of His followers like Nityananda Prabhu, Jahnava Mata, Narottama Das Thakur, Syamananda prabhu. Then, there was a gradual decline. This gradual decline reached rock bottom. Then Bhaktivinod Thakur appeared and gave this movement an upward thrust. But Bhaktivinod Thakur was a high-ranking government officer, so he did not have the opportunity to preach himself. Therefore, Bhaktivinod Thakur used to pray to Lord Jagannath to send somebody to help him in his mission. As a result of that prayer, Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur appeared. He was another brilliant personality. Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur literally gave Bhaktivinod Thakur's plan a practical shape. It is very important to note that Bhaktivinod Thakur could foresee that in order to spread Krishna consciousness throughout the world in every town and village, we need an organized structure or an institution. He gave the blueprint of this institution through his Nama Hatta. He gave a very thorough structure. Basing on that structure, Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur established his mission, this was known as Gaudiya Mission. He spread this movement throughout India. he created a wonderful influence in the intellectual community at that time. Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur himself was an extremely brilliant personality. Naturally, he attracted very high-class individuals from the intellectual Indian community. Many high-ranking people in society became affected by him. In this way, Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur established his Gaudiya Math all over India. he also emphasized the importance of a structured organization or institution. He gave an incredible amount of emphasis on the importance collective management through a governing body. Unfortunately, after Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur's disappearance, his institution gradually started to disintegrate. This disintegration started from two factions. One group decided to follow his instruction to maintain the institution through collective management through a governing body. Another group came up with "We need an acharya for this institution because a spiritual institution has to have an acharya. How can a spiritual institution be run by a group of managers?" This conflict, in due course of time, actually finished off the structure of Gaudiya Math. They started to fight. Srila Prabhupada pointed out that the fight is still going on. They went to the courts and they were fighting individually also, fist fights, stick fights some gun fights. I do not think they went into guns, but they used swords and all even murdered. The unfortunate development was there. In this way, we see that Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur's Gaudiya Math gradually became very weak, but one of Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur's disciples, who Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur himself also gave a lot of recognition to, although he did not have much of his personal association is Srila Prabhupada. We see that Srila Prabhupada just stayed away from all this turmoil. He just continued to prepare himself to fulfill the mission of his spiritual master, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur. Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur's dream was to take this Krishna consciousness movement to the west. Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur and Bhaktivinod Thakur were both fully convinced that this movement would spread all over the world in every town and village. They did not have the slightest doubt. That is why we notice that although Bhaktivinod Thakur was writing in Sanskrit and Bengali, he also wrote in English, as if he knew that a time will come when this movement will spread throughout the world in the English language because English is the international language. He considered that this movement will spread and English will be a very important language. Therefore, he presented his writings in English as well. That poetry that I mentioned yesterday, you will see that in these twenty-two stanzas, Bhaktivinod Thakur has given the entire philosophy of Krishna consciousness. He deals with the materialistic way of life, man's attachment to his body, forgetting the soul, those who are even pursuing the spiritual path are caught up in the complexities of impersonalism, and then, he proclaims: here is the Vaishnava who shows the way. Finally, he shows how a living entity goes back to the spiritual sky. The last stanza is, "O Sharagrahi Vaishnav soul! Thou art an angel fair: Lead, lead me on to Vrindavan And spirit's power declare!! There rests my Soul from matter free Upon my Lover's arms, Eternal peace and Spirit's love Are all my chanting charms!!" So this is how Bhaktivinod Thakur is describing how the spirit soul goes back? Becoming free from material bondage and rests in his lover's arms, at Krishna's lotus feet. Such brilliant presentation of Krishna consciousness, and that is why it is very important that we recognize our heritage. Then we can see that it is a very, very special spiritual family, the most aristocratic spiritual family. To be part of this family will naturally make us feel spiritually proud. It is an inconceivable good fortune that we have somehow or other become linked up with this family and these are our ancestors. Srila Prabhupada, Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur, Bhaktivinod Thakur – such incredibly powerful, such incredibly colossal spiritual personalities. Srila Prabhupada also had the full conviction that Krishna consciousness would spread all over the world. He saw how Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur wanted it to happen. In their first meeting, Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur told Srila Prabhupada, "Why don't you take up this responsibility of spreading Krishna consciousness all over the world in the English language?" That first instruction became the guiding factor for Srila Prabhupada's life. While all these conflicts and turmoil were going on in Gaudiya Math, Srila Prabhupada was simply preparing himself to spread this movement all over the world. Finally, at a very old age, Srila Prabhupada managed to go to the West. Once, Srila Prabhupada was describing about his own life to an old acquaintance in Mayapur. There is a very well known Ayurvedic doctor who came to treat Srila Prabhupada from Calcutta. That gentleman was about ninety years old. Srila Prabhupada was eighty two at that time. He was older than Srila Prabhupada and he was blind. Srila Prabhupada was telling him how he always wanted to go to the West and preach. He was struggling throughout his life. Ultimately, when he went to the West, he was old, he did not have any resources, he did not have any money. At the age of seventy, he goes to the West. When he went there, things just started to happen. He was telling, "all along, I was trying to go to the West and spread Krishna consciousness. Krishna, when He finally sent me there, He sent me as a pauper. Then He made all kinds of wonderful things start to happen." In this way, Krishna made it clear to him that it was actually He who was spreading this movement. Srila Prabhupada himself also used to say, which we used to think that it was due to Srila Prabhupada's humble disposition. Whenever some used to glorify Srila Prabhupada for his humble disposition, Srila Prabhupada used to say, "No, I have not done anything. It is my Guru Maharaja and Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu that did everything. They simply gave me the credit." Srila Prabhupada was explaining that it was not just that he was speaking like that, but he really believed that it was Caitanya Mahaprabhu who spread this movement all over the world. He gave Srila Prabhupada the credit for this achievement. A proper analysis will also make it clear that the prediction that Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu made four hundred years ago, He sent Srila Prabhupada to fulfill that prediction. Srila Prabhupada's appearance in this world was not just a chance happening. It was Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's divine arrangement. We see also how wonderfully, within a span of ten years, Krishna consciousness movement spread all over the world. The way it spread is amazing. Those who were not present at that time, I can tell you that ISKCON those days was quite different from the way it is today. It was a very vibrant movement. When I first joined in Mayapur, I had an elderly Indian god brother. One day, he was telling me that the amazing thing about this movement is the way the devotees are committed to Srila Prabhupada. He said, "They have such love and confidence in Srila Prabhupada that whatever Srila Prabhupada says, they do that without even batting an eyelash. If Srila Prabhupada tells someone to jump from the top of a skyscraper, the devotees would do that." That kind of faith devotees had in Srila Prabhupada. Srila Prabhupada knew that Krishna consciousness movement is not going to spread all over the world within just a few years' time. To effectively spread all over the world, in every town and village, will take a long time, maybe even generations. In order to continue to spread this movement in that way, Srila Prabhupada saw the importance of an institution. Therefore, Srila Prabhupada created ISKCON. It was not Srila Prabhupada's own idea. Srila Prabhupada was carrying on the plan of Bhaktivinod Thakur and BSST. These two other acharyas, who were very much concerned about spreading Krishna consciousness all over the world, both of them saw the importance of an institution. Rather, if it was just a personality, only as long as that personality will be present will the movement have momentum. As soon as the personality will leave, everything will fall apart. The organizations that grew around a personality, soon after the disappearance of the personality, the institution falls apart. That is why Srila Prabhupada gave the importance to the institution, not himself. We see that in America at that time, there was a tremendous spiritual awareness or a seeking for a counterculture. At that time, quite a few Indian spiritual teachers went to America and they all set up their organizations after their own names like "Mahesh Yogi", "Rajneesh", "Bal Yogi", "Chinmayananda", and so on and so forth. Everybody knew that this is the personality, but when it came to Hare Krishna movement, they did not even know who is the personality. Prabhupada did not push himself forward. Srila Prabhupada did not put himself in the center of that happening. Srila Prabhupada put forth the International Society for Krishna consciousness as the institution. From the beginning, Srila Prabhupada pointed out the importance of collectively managing that society. Srila Prabhupada himself made himself a member of that society. Prabhupada created the GBC and told that he himself is another member of the GBC, not the head of the GBC, but he himself is just another member of the GBC. In this way, Prabhupada pointed out the importance of this collective management. Although he himself is the Founder-Acharya, he assumed the simple and humble position of a member of the body. Also, Srila Prabhupada pointed out time and time again that this ISKCON is his body. We can see that if ISKCON is Srila Prabhupada's body, then the soul of that institution is Srila Prabhupada himself. Prabhupada, in his last days, time and time again, he reminded the devotees to show their love for him by cooperating to keep the institution together, keep ISKCON together. "Your love for me will be shown by how you cooperate with each other." In those days, the devotees' love for Srila Prabhupada was so profound and so overwhelming. Everybody used to express their love for Srila Prabhupada through writing, through actions, through words. Prabhupada's response to that was, "If you really love me, cooperate with each other. That will be the proper display of your love." Prabhupada saw that it was very important that we hold this institution together. If ISKCON remains together, then Krishna consciousness will spread all over the world but if we somehow fail to keep ISKCON together, and then the preaching will stop. We do not have to go very far, we can see from Gaudiya Math that although it was a very dynamic movement during Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur's time, when they gave up this mood to keep the institution together, to push Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's mission and get caught up with their own interests or own little organization or temple, then the preaching stopped. Now, Prabhupada said that after an acharya leaves the planet, there is bound to be crisis. The crisis actually came this way. The crisis is that we will fail to push on his mission properly. As I was mentioning in the class this morning, Kali is the arch-enemy of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's sankirtan movement and Kali's most dangerous weapon is quarrel. This movement is Kali's worst enemy and naturally, Kali will try to defeat this movement. And Kali will fail in his attacks one after another. Finally, what Kali will try to do is create dissension between the devotees. The result of that will be that if there is fighting between devotees, this institution will become weak. This is how Kali is going to destroy this movement. That is why Srila Prabhupada emphatically requested us to remain united and cooperate. Cooperate means that we have to give up our selfish interests and look at the society's interests, Srila Prabhupada's interests, Krishna's interests. If we can make that sacrifice, this movement will become very, very powerful. After Srila Prabhupada's disappearance, the crisis came in many, many ways. My personal observation is that the first crisis that came was a system that was implemented soon after Srila Prabhupada's disappearance which has later been known as the "Zonal Acharya system". Srila Prabhupada was the Founder-Acharya of this movement and when he was present, he was in his exclusive position of the highest authority of this movement. He was the leader of this movement. He was the spiritual master of this movement. But after Srila Prabhupada left the planet, then a number of leading devotees of the movement assumed the position of initiating spiritual master. They kind of assumed the same kind of worship and the same kind of position as Srila Prabhupada used to have. Actually, it became even worse because Prabhupada was not present and they were present. One of the things that started a lot of controversy was simultaneous guru-puja. Unlike today, fortunately we got rid of those arrangements, there used to be the vyasasana of the zonal guru, this was practically identical to Srila Prabhupada's vyasasana, may be a fraction of an inch shorter than Srila Prabhupada's. and the Guru puja used to go on simultaneously: Prabhupada's guru puja and the present guru's guru puja. That gave an impression that they were as good as Srila Prabhupada and they actually are having the same kind of worship. Since then, we can see a record of continuous loss in ISKCON. When these gurus assumed their position as the guru, then those who were in leadership positions but did not become gurus were the first ones to leave the ISKCON movement. They were very powerful personalities, very, very powerful individuals, but because they did not become gurus, they left. Not all, but w can say that some of them left. Then those who did not line up with the gurus, the god brothers who did not line up with the gurus in some areas, they were driven out of the movement because they did not become obedient. They did not submit to the leadership. Then, some of the gurus started to fall down. Their disciples started to leave the movement. That was the very, very, big blow to the movement. When a guru left, when a guru fell down, their disciples left by the hundreds. Many areas where the gurus left, the whole area became crippled. In 1987, there was a reform, but after twelve or thirteen years, when we analyze, then we see that although we thought it was a reform, it was watering down the same mistaken system. Today, our society has become considerably weak because of that mistake. This is one of the problems our society faced after Srila Prabhupada's disappearance, the zonal acharya system. Another problem is the abnormal worship of devotees who assumed the position of spiritual masters and neglect and abuse of devotees. The gurus got worship as lofty as the Supreme Personality of Godhead in many areas, whereas devotees were neglected. Our children were neglected. The women were neglected. The women were used and abused. To give an example, one very important person visited our temple somewhere. I do not want to mention the name of the temple. She was a lady. After one day there, she said she lost all faith in the movement. The reason she gave was the lifestyle the spiritual master had and the lifestyle the general devotees had. There was such a gulf of difference between those lifestyles. There was such a big difference that she lost all faith. That is just to make this point. Unfair means of collecting money was another problem. During Srila Prabhupada's time, the main means of collection, the main source of income was Prabhupada's books. Through the books, Srila Prabhupada built Vrindavan temple, Bombay temple and he established the movement all over the world. Srila Prabhupada himself told that the book business is the best business and books are the basis. As books went out, there was preaching and money came in. After Srila Prabhupada's disappearance, the leaders introduced a kind of paraphernalia distribution. One of the pioneers of that was a close friend of mine. Once he told me how he got into that. He said that he just came across a stock of LPs from a record-manufacturing place, like a few thousand, a colossal number of records and they bought them for a few cents. These LPs he bought for a few cents each. He felt that the sankirtan devotees are such good devotees that they can go and sell these because the book selling was becoming a little difficult. So they introduced the selling of these records. In order to sell those records, they started to lie. They would say, "O this is the latest album by George Harrison."

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