Why Do Sannyasis Fall Down?
Bhakti Madhurya Govinda Goswami (Formerly Makhanlal Das Brahmachary): Do to the fall of yet another prominent ISKCON sannyasi, guru, and GBC, thousands of devotees are undoubtedly asking “why”? How can a Prabhupada disciple who sincerely dedicated himself to Srila Prabhupada’s mission for so many decades simply fall down, as if helpless? This is a fair question, isn’t it? Many may say “it was lust”. O.K, that’s an answer; yet we must ask “how does such a senior devotee who was “staunch” (very “fixed up” in Krishna consciousness), who executed austerity for so long, become so weak”? Are we to understand that Srila Prabhupada, Krishna, and Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu are so ungrateful for those years of preaching and management in ISKCON? What about the neophyte? Are they to believe that you surrender, dedicate yourself for decades, only to have inevitable fall down? Many may wonder “if ‘advanced’ Prabhupada disciples fall, then what chance is there for me? I may never even come to their level! Is there any hope”? We must address this legitimate concern.
First, as far as “lust”, well, yes, that is behind all weakness in the material world, as Arjuna asks in the Bhagavad Gita (3.36):
“Arjuna said: O descendant of Våñëi, by what is one impelled to sinful acts, even unwillingly, as if engaged by force”? Purport: “…Although the living entity sometimes does not want to act in sin, he is still forced to act…as the Lord explains in the next verse:”
“The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: It is lust only, Arjuna, which is born of contact with the material mode of passion and later transformed into wrath, and which is the all-devouring sinful enemy of this world”. [BG 3.37]
All right, that is an answer, no doubt, but the nagging question remains, “how does this weakness develop? Can it be avoided”? This we have to determine with further analysis.
In the latest case of fall down, Prabhavisnu prabhu admits that he was over stressed, over worked, worn down by struggling with attempts at conflict resolution, and we might add—politics. This indicates insufficient hearing and chanting (bhajan, kirtan, and Hari katha). Our movement, in general, needs to improve on this. When the devotee is “too busy” for this essentiality, that is a sure formula for “burn-out”. Herein we have the first answer. “burn-out” by law of nature must result in increased material desire, by causing the devotee to remain on the mental, rather than the purely spiritual, platform (brahma butta, without hankering or lamentation).
Secondly, we must consider the probability of Vaishnava aparada (hati matta, or offense): “If the devotee commits an offense at the feet of a Vaiñëava while cultivating the creeper of devotional service in the material world, his offense is compared to a mad elephant that uproots the creeper and breaks it. In this way the leaves of the creeper are dried up”. [cc madhya 19.156; Mahaprabhu teaches Srila Rupa Goswami]. “The gardener must defend the creeper by fencing it all around so that the powerful elephant of offenses may not enter”. [cc madhya 19.157]. The problem is that often times offenses may be committed not by intent, but accidentally, especially when attempting to manage Vaishnavas (an extremely difficult task). Shouting at a devotee, insulting them with harsh words, strongly disrespecting them, etc, are overt (conspicuous) offenses. However, other offenses may be less conspicuous, but take their toll anyways. Thus all Vaishnavas must be seen as greet souls (mahatma), for indeed, they are chanting the Holy names, regardless whether they are “big devotees” or “insignificant” devotees. Actually, in the eyes of Krishna there is no such thing as an “insignificant” devotee. All devotees of Krishna are sudhurlabah (very rarely found), and must be respected fully at all times. Without this extreme caution, even a very senior devotee can encounter serious difficulty.
Bhakti Madhurya Govinda Goswami
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