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Why Do Sannyasis Fall Down?

Tuesday, 24 January 2012 / Published in Blog thoughts / 3,745 views

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.

Respectfully submitted,

Bhakti Madhurya Govinda Goswami


  1. 0

    Dandavat pranams Maharaja
    All glories to Srila Prabhupada
    Very important and right on, vaisnava aparadha is the number one “killer” in ISKCON along with asat trsna thirst for the temporary material world
    your servant
    Paramananda das

  2. 0

    pride also causes falldown from sannyasa so Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has warned:

    Song 13 – Sannyasa Not as Important as Devotion

    Verse 1


    mana, tumi sannyasi sajite keno cao?
    bahirer saja jata, antarete phanki tata,
    dambha puji’ sarira nacao


    My dear mind, why do you want to disguise yourself as a sannyasi? As much as you decorate yourself externally with this garb, to that same degree you deceive yourself internally with this hoax. Worshiping your own false pride, your simply make a show of your material body by artificially accepting the dress of the renounced order.

    Verse 2


    amar bacana dharo, antara bisuddha koro,
    krishnamrta sada koro pana
    jivana sahaje jay, bhakti-badha nahi pay,
    tadupaya koroho sandhana


    Now please try to understand my advice on how to become a true sannyasi. Just make your heart completely pure, and constantly drink the nectar of Krishna consciousness. Search for that life-style in which your spiritual life can be executed easily and automatically, free from any distracting obstacles to pure devotion.

    Verse 3


    anayase jaha pao, tahe tusta hoye jao,
    adambare na koro prayas
    purna-bastra jadi nai, kaupina paro he bhai,
    sita-bastra kantha bahirbas


    Just be satisfied with whatever you get easily, and never endeavor for any type of artificial pomp and grandeur. Even if you do not have proper clothes to wear, just wear a loin-cloth, dear brother! And in cold weather you can simply wear an old torn quilt.

    Verse 4


    aguru candana nai, mrttika-tilaka bhai,
    harer badale dharo mala
    ei-rupe asa-pas, sukhadir kubilas,
    kharbi chado samsarer jvala


    There is no need for fancy sandalwood pulp scented with perfume, my dear brother; you can use some ordinary earth or clay to mark your forehead with tilaka. Your fancy necklaces can be exchanged for a nice tulasi-mala. Living like this in such a simple state of mind, all your nonsense external arrangements for so-called happiness will diminish, and you will thus be able to escape from the burning fever of materialistic existence.

  3. 0


    Verse 5


    sannyasa-bairagya-bidhi, sei asramer nidhi,
    tahe kabhu na koro’ adar
    se-saba adare bhai, samsare nistar nai,
    dambhiker linga nirantar


    In reality it is complete renunciation that is the wealth of the sannyasa-asrama. By following this rule, one would certainly never look forward to receiving respect from others. Beware, dear brother! Deliverance from this material world is not possible for one who wants to get such respect by taking sannyasa. Instead, he gets ensnared in mundane existence due to constantly maintaining the conceited pride of subtle profit, adoration and distinction.

    Verse 6


    tumi to’ chaitanya-das, hari-bhakti taba as,
    asramer linge kiba phal?
    pratista koroho dura, basa taba santipura,
    sadhu krpa tomar sambal


    You are actually an eternal servant of Lord Chaitanya, and your real interest as such is devotion to Shri Hari. What other wonderful thing could you get from the external form of the sannyasa-asrama? Casting all false prestige to a far distant place, make your residence in the transcendentally peaceful realm, far beyond the varnasrama-dharma system, and live on the mercy of the Rupanuga Vaishnavas as your only life-giving substance.

    Verse 7


    vaisnaver paricoy, abasyaka nahi hoy,
    adambare kabhu nahi jao
    binoder nibedana, radha-krishna-guna-gana,
    phukari’ phukari’ sada gao


    It is actually not even necessary to introduce oneself as a Vaishnava, and once should never try to thereby make a show of external pomp and grandeur. Bhaktivinoda’s humble submission to you is that you should constantly sing songs about the glorious qualities of Radha and Krishna at the top of your lungs.

  4. 0
    krishna-kirti ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    A very nice ISKCON Swami once told me privately that, “ISKCON sannyasis are not renowned for their austerity, and that’s a problem. So I am trying to set a good example.” He does not advertise himself as austere, and he makes it a point to avoid criticizing others. But the point remains is that within our society there is a weak culture of austerity. It begins from the top and influences the rest of the ashramas.

    So, I don’t buy that X Swami fell down because he was “overworked”. Everyone is 100% engaged, it’s just that some are engaged more in Krishna consciousness than others. X Swami was a) not competent to accept the sannyasa order, or b) even if he was competent, he fell victim to the culture of enjoyment that still pervades our society.

    As regards to not being competent, many of our sannyasis happen to be born as Westerners, and due to bad samskaras, and probably bad genes as well, they simply are at a disadvantage when they adopt the ashram. They start their lives out defective. This is not to say that this defect cannot be overcome by strong devotion, but there is also a sense among devotees coming from that background that they have transcended the modes of nature when in fact they have not. And even if it is admitted that they haven’t, it is difficult to admit that having taken birth as a cow eater comes with a heavy predisposition toward impious acts. Some genuine, introspective humility could rectify that, but that’s always a hard thing to come by.

    As regards to the culture of enjoyment, that’s also much a Western thing. (It need not be Western, it just happens to have a Western color because of the West’s hegemonic, materialist influence.) It’s the liberal belief that human nature is good when in fact it is something very nasty–manda sumanda matayoh manda bhagya upadrutah. (And it’s Kali Yuga, too.) Thus when someone like X Swami does something questionable, his associates look the other way. But look at Mahaprabhu’s own associates: they were very careful to see that He did not even inadvertently wind up in a circumstance that would bring Him the slightest ill repute. But associates of our sannyasis and spiritual leaders? There are many disincentives toward establishing that culture, including the punishment of whistle-blowers and distancing of disciples and associates who raise the slightest objections.

    When devotees decide not to follow in the footsteps of Mahaprabhu, it is no wonder that in so many cases He withdraws His protection.

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