OPEN LETTER TO Bhakti Vikasa Swami
By Priyavrata das
(ref: http://www.oneiskcon.com/2011/09/his-holiness-bhakti-vikasa-swami-has-some-concerns-about-iskcon/ )
Dear Bhakti Vikasa Swami,
Please accept my obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
With all due respect, I feel that your recent lecture about Food for Life and the Midday Meals project is completely misleading, and offensive to devotees that have dedicated their lives to prasadam distribution. Using selective quotes and straw man arguments you have unfairly aligned Midday meals and Food for Life with mundane welfare.
The fact is both projects distribute prasadam and prasadam distribution is ALWAYS a transcendental activity. Neither Food for Life Global, ISKCON Communications, or any devotee in their right mind would ever entertain the idea of disregarding the preaching mission to focus on some mundane charity. You have completely missed the point of these projects. That being:
1) to expand prasadam distribution as much as possible
2) give faith in ISKCON
3) get the cooperation of the state administrators
Carefully read this statement:
“The Krishna consciousness movement is based on this principle: Chant the Hare Krishna maha mantra at every moment, as much as possible, both inside and outside of the temples, and, as far as possible, distribute prasada. This process can be accelerated with the cooperation of state administrators and those who are producing the country’s wealth. Simply by liberal distribution of prasada and sankirtana, the whole world can become peaceful and prosperous.” (SB 4.12.10).
Please note Prabhupada suggestion that we should get the cooperation of state administrators. In the following letter Prabhupada specifically points out HOW ISKCON can get the help of the leaders of society.
“…If such leaders of society can be influenced to preach on
our behalf, help us to spread Krishna consciousness in some
practical way, that is the best service. But simply supporting,
that will not help us. Support of mass of people will help us.
But mass of people take direction form their leaders, so if the
leaders of present day society can be persuaded of our beneficial working for the human welfare, and if they help us somehow to spread what they have learned from us to the people in general, that is the point to be considered…” (SP letter to Damodara January 9, 1973).
Because these programs are focused on one aspect of ISKCON’s mission, does not mean they are not perfect and complete. These projects may take on many forms and be presented in certain ways in order to facilitate the expansion of prasadam distribution. The END RESULT however is fulfilling Prabhupada’s direct order, as explained in this statement:
“The Krishna consciousness movement vigorously approves
this practice of preparing food, offering it to the deity, and distributing it to the general population. This activity should be
extended universally to stop sinful eating habits as well as
other behavior befitting only demons. . . . Since eating is the
first necessity in human society, those involved in solving the
problems of preparing and distributing food should take lessons
from Madhavendra Puri and execute the Annakuta ceremony.
When people take to eating only prasada offered to the deity, all the demons will be turned into vaisnavas. When the people are Krishna conscious, naturally the government will be also. A Krishna conscious man is always a liberal well-wisher of everyone. When such men head the government, the people will certainly be sinless. They will no longer be disturbing demons. It is then and then only that a peaceful condition can prevail in society.” (CC Madhya lila 4.93)
Finally, the Food for Life and Midday Meal programs are one of the many ways in which devotees can give their association to the non-devotees, especially those whom would ordinarily be difficult to approach through other methods. In this regard there is a very nice instruction from Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura about the power of sadhu sanga:
“Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura explains this point. Is this bhāgya (fortune) the result of an accident or something else? In the scriptures, devotional service and pious activity are considered fortunate. Pious activities can be divided into three categories: pious activities that awaken one’s dormant Kṛṣṇaconsciousness are called bhakty-unmukhī sukṛti, pious activities that bestow material opulence are called bhogonmukhī sukṛti, and pious activities that enable the living entity to merge into the existence of the Supreme are called mokṣonmukhī sukṛti. These last two awards of pious activity are not actually fortunate. Pious activities are fortunate when they help one become Kṛṣṇa conscious. The good fortune of bhakty-unmukhī is attainable only when one comes in contact with a devotee. By associating with a devotee willingly or unwillingly, one advances in devotional service, and thus one’s dormant Kṛṣṇaconsciousness is awakened. (CC Madhya lila 22.45)
The above quotes are directly from Shastra. This is the HIGHEST evidence. Prabhupada wanted prasadam distributed “as far as possible.” and he wanted this activity “extended universally.” Period.
Rather than nitpicking these program we should be encouraging them so that “Everyone should be given a chance to take prasada and thus be induced to chant the holy names of Hare Krishna and also dance in ecstasy. By these three processes, although performed without knowledge or education, even even a dog went back to Godhead.” (CC Antya lila 1.32).
Now try and explain to me how Food for Life (in all it’s forms) and the ISKCON Midday Meal projects are not carrying out a DIRECT order from our Founder Acharya!
(dasanudas Prasada Das)
Food for Life Global