Comments Posted By Caitanya candrodaya dasa

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When guru worship gets sentimental

Your article raises some interesting issues.

In fact there are number of issues are to be separated:

1)Mahabharata quote by Yudhisthira: dharmasya tattvaM nihitaM guhAyAM mahA-jano yena gataH sa panthAH, refers to Mahajanas NOT to spiritual master. Yes its a symptom of a sentimental understanding of sastra when things are taken out of context.

2)According to Prabhupada one should not distinguish between rupa and svarupa of ones guru. That is the reason why we worship Prabhupada murti daily. Form of ones spiritual master should be displayed during worship on the altar for the same reason.

Going back to the symptoms of sentimental worship you picked.

Please be careful, some of them are the character of Srila Prabhupada himself, in pure form, in his relations to his guru.

Wanting to get noticed. (one should add without a service attitude)

At that time, Guru MahĂ€rĂ€ja was indisposed little, and he was staying at JagannĂ€tha Puri, on the seashore. So I wrote him letter, “My dear master, your other disciples, brahmacĂ€ri, sannyĂ€si, they are rendering you direct service. And I am a householder. I cannot live with you, I cannot serve you nicely. So I do not know. How can I serve you?” Simply an idea, I was thinking of serving him, “How can I serve him seriously?” So the reply was dated 13th December, 1936. In that letter he wrote, “My dear such and such, I am very glad to receive your letter. I think you should try to push our movement in English.” .” - PrabhupĂ€da at Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvatis Disappearance in 1968.

Imitating the guru. (the body appearance, voice and style)

PrabhupĂ€da used to say, “Do as I am doing.” ISKCON used to do very well when it was done. However internal qualities, such being just and merciful at the same time - hard to copy. Small falls tested us.

What is wrong is when one imitates or copies ones guru, Haribhaktivilas lists it as an aparadha, to copy walk, voice of ones guru. One should not imitate also in the sense of accepting more then one can use in the service. Many gurus or leaders take more, then they can actually use in the service to Krsna, thus wasting money and displeasing PrabhupÀda.

Over-glorifying the guru.

There is absolutely no way one can do that. Of course ones guru is not a guru of another, thus when we hear praise of somebody else’s guru, we should think of our own. Or about PrabhupĂ€das qualities that this praise represent. Guru is one. Krsna is adi guru, there is no limit on praise.


Comment Posted By Caitanya candrodaya dasa On 21.12.2007 @ 19:50

Constitution Committee Update

Dear Prabhus and respected Prabhupada Das Karapurnam

Yes of course DRAFT of the constitution should be presented to a wider audience and has a greater degree of participation from rank and file or other ISKCON constituencies.

In the same time internet is not the greatest place for it. We all know its limitations.

When you, respected Prabhupada dasa, say that GBC should act in the ways any but modern or contemporary it shows that you are not GBC well wisher. In fact I doubt if you want them to survive.

Prabhupada was in touch with time, he used technology in preaching and he used modernity in preaching. He was writing in the modern language on modern topics and wanted modern people to appreciate his movement. And he left a huge amount of the task to his disciples to complete. That how I take what is above presented by Sesa Prabhu.

There are obvious flaws in your logic: Fist of all in regards of autocracy of guru or administrator. Srila Prabhupada writes: “They were never autocratic monarchs” [SB 2.7]. Why Prabhupada was critical of autocracy in this instance? Why guru always represent Sastra and consults with sadhus and is thus not seen as all-in-all but as a servant of God? Why did Prabhupada said to his leaders “If you make me god, I will turn my back to all of you?” Because they, acaryas, gurus, are humble servants, not autocrats. There was no system of autocracy in the past in India, and the only rulers who showed disrespect to this principle were Ravana, Kamsa as well as modern day dictators and bogus gurus etc you name them. And this concept of autocracy has often polluted the idea of guru-disciple relationship in ISKCON, but guru is only guru IF he represent Sastra and IF sadhus (some individual GBCs for example) accept and support him in that role, and if he thinks to be guru without such order or outside of this relationship he is goru. Again you seems to be of an opinion that guru is a “status” or a level, its however a role and the service that one acts upon in surrender. Guru is such only in relationship with his or her disciples or listeners, not in relationship with his godbrothers or seniors. And yes for every guru there is a senior, this is called paramapara system, you know that.., and even then after departure of the Spiritual Master, it’s the words of the spiritual master and Sastra that remain the point of reference, and they always were the “constitution” for the rule of the guru anyhow. So ISKCON constitution should summarise the rights as they appear in Sastra and Prabhupadas interpretation of it.

For GBC as you pointed out superior is Prabhupadas instructions. And there are plenty of his words that contradict your fundamentalism, he said to a similar to yours doubt by Hayagriva:

Prabhupada: This deposition is very difficult to solve.
(laughing) You want to stay, and he wants to burn it. (laughing)

Hayagriva: Yes. 
If the president is in charge, then if he says
to cut it down, it gets cut down.

Prabhupada: No. The committee. The majority decision will be…

Hayagriva: That’s democracy. That’s democracy. That’s no good.

Prabhupada: Democracy? This is the age of democracy.

Hayagriva: I thought you said we should have enlightened monarchy.

Prabhupada: No. Monarchy is out of date now. 

If you have to live together, you have to work together; if you disagree in that way, it will be a difficult job.

It was way before GBC ever formed, years before that
 Prabhupada never wanted autocracy.

Where do you take in the Sastra that there is no place of “freedom of interpretation of those instructions”. You must interpret correctly however not in a dogmatic way as you seems to do. There are so many freedoms, freedom to ask question, freedom to choose service, freedom to choose association and choose asrama, and in many many cases Prabhupada put those freedoms in front of his disciples, especially as they became more mature, in fact he liked people around him who could argue the case, and never let “star-eyed” fanatics too close.

You know perfectly well, to every responsibility one takes, there are rights attached, for example, if you have a responsibility to develop a sustainable rural community, you have to have a right to interpret and put in practice Prabupadas instructions, and you know that your interpretation can be different then someone say in East Africa or in South Siberia, due to simple practical reasons.

The dogmatic military style attitude “no-interpretation” is only “one interpretation” of what Srila Prabhupada said, the wrong one, after all he wrote that “this Krishna Consciousness movement is for training man to be independently thoughtful and competent in all types of departments of knowledge and action”, which by the way includes sustainable rural communities but does not exclude everything else.

Go ahead and prove me wrong, but words of Prabhupada and Vaisnava Sastra should be the basis of the constitution of ISKCON and members (or aspiring members) rights and its ruling body rights and definition, and the ultimate managerial authority, the GBC, and especially individual GBCs should respect and obey by that as well, not that they are above it all, autocrats, “the gurus” as you call them. Just like every other acarya in our tradition, for example when commenting on Bhagavatam, will respect and follow the interpretation of Srila Sridhara Svami, even if they have a different interpretation. For example my guru is an individual GBC, but he is still cooperating with the GBC body and often accepts different interpretations because of the spirit of cooperation, and that is both duty and a right. And the GBC body (who you at least in your words above accept as a “functional guru”) wants to have a constitution and wants to do what Sesa Prabhu described above in detail, they do it on the basis of what Srila Prabhupada wanted, are you saying you will never accept their interpretation unless GBC rejects any modern idea and go back 20 centuries to at least Catholic church foundation times? There are names to such an attitude.

There are rights that are based on Srimad Bhagavatam and Prabhupadas words and on common sense, all of it valid pramanas if taken in the parampara, and if you do not accept them you are not following CC. Adi 10.12.

I wonder however if you are critical to the point of not wanting to be part of ISKCON and not wishing well GBC, why would you consider to be following Srila Prabhupada at all? And why comment on constitution?

You write:

I remain a firm advocate of the absolute authority of the instructions of Shrila Prabhupad and the dire need for submission and obedience to them.

An the same time you do not accept GBC as the authority AND you are telling them what to do and what not to do, obviously exercising your rights, (that you protest you don’t have), but missing the point of obligation of loyalty or wishing well our GBC body. Even if you have different opinion, its better to cooperate and then GBCs duty will be, if I may say so, to find unity in diversity, and that requires them to be both “exact” and “magnanimous” in their interpretation, I hope it will be part of the constitution…

Comment Posted By Caitanya candrodaya dasa On 19.08.2007 @ 22:03

Dear Prabhupada dasa

In quite a direct way you appear to support ancient system and resist modernisation:

Any constitution ratified by ISKCON must strenuously avoid the inclusion of so-called “Modern Ideology” that supports the attribution of unalienable freedoms and rights of sovereignty to the individual. When the rank and file, who are mostly in the category of ordinary or kanishtha adhikari, are afforded guaranteed rights and freedom to determine who their leaders are, the door is open to eventual control by those vested with mundane consciousness.

Its however should be noted that unlike ancient institutions such as Catholic church, ISKCON is a modern institution that was formed recently and is an innovation in itself.

Innovation and constant interpretation of tradition and use of modern means to keep in tune with the time is a feature of our specific sampradaya, be it poetry or be it collective management system establishedfor example by last two acaryas.

“Freedoms and rights” is a relatively new concept and is based on relatively modern paradigm, but there are unalienable rights of individual, and in particular a brahmin in the ancient paradigm, while positivistic “freedoms and rights” not at all 100% compatible with Vedic or post-vedic traditional systems. especially the materialist interpretation of the concept of equality, what is the basis to assume that it can not be used as an innovative concept not only to protect individuals from potential setbacks in the newly formed institution but also used to establish broader base of responsibilities, that will support it?

Its in modernity that we live, and it would be extremely counterproductive to step back into what you call ” our ancient “autocratic” ” system.

If we are forming something to last we should be ahead of the time not way behind. Its exactly to protect one from the tradition of cast system that daivi varnasrama was used by both Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati and Srila Prabhupada, and also to expose sastric non-complience of this perverted to date, if I may say, tradition.

Its easy to abuse “autocratic” system, especially in the framework of modernity and deterioration of traditional way of life, therefore to make it attractive in the expanding movement and for people to be assured that nobody is going to be in such a position of abused. Its exactly for such a simple reason that daivy-rights need to be considered before stepping any further.

Should it affect the guru-disciple relationship that is a different story, but most certainly at the initial stages of it - yes. Should guru-disciple relationship be even a subject of Law in ISKCON? That is a different story.

Thank you for your comment “a blast from the past”. Its interesting how things change with time and how progressive, in the right meaning of the word, our society has become. Are you prepared to comment on it?

With respect and in good faith,

Caitanya candrodaya

Comment Posted By Caitanya candrodaya dasa On 15.08.2007 @ 12:36

The Awkward Years

Thank you Sankirtana Prabhu. This was an inspiration to read on the topic that we often try to avoid or address in some sort of supreficial way. You wrote:


I wonder if its the case with everyone? You are almost elevating a teenager son to be the representative of caitya guru. Well, is it too much? From the other hand why not? Why vaisnava youth will not be ‘in your eyes’ reflection on what Krsna wants us to improve on.. even in preaching. After all if we are unable to relate to a son or an adolescents dependent how far will we be able to relate to the ever-changing preaching field?

You also suggest

Scary seems like a right word. I’m mean its gets more and more scary somehow. What is your suggestion on dealing with the demobilizing fear. Should we just ignore it? I don’t think that devotees for 20 or so years should be afraid to see their own shortcomings. But isn’t it one of the basics of teaching or bringing up, that one is not centered on oneself but on the pupils needs?

Thank you again.



Comment Posted By Caitanya candrodaya dasa On 13.08.2007 @ 11:21

Education v Demagogy

Thank you for a nice article.

Your main suggestion seems to be that all teachers in ISKCON to be fully qualified and “to have carried out appropriate training”. On top of that I would humbly suggest that at least 2 years of their time after completing above were post qualification experience, the time when they actually receive practical training outside of ISKCON schools. In this way not only we will have only experienced teachers, but also will learn by shared experience with other educational institutions or groups. This option was not really available when ‘ill-famous’ gurukula system was being set up in 1970. Its hard to underestimate post-qualification experience and we have seen what un-experienced and un-qualified (in both meaning of the word) teaching can do. At least vast majority of teaching positions in ISKCON should have it as basic but not the only requirement. Hope this adds a little to your ever-hard-to-realize but very much needed suggestion. Thank you.

your servant

Caitanya candrodaya dasa

Comment Posted By Caitanya candrodaya dasa On 13.08.2007 @ 13:29

Establishing VAD Universities

Is there any way to hear the original unedited tapes. As you said: ” I made myself a personal set of tapes from the original unedited tapes which I have to this day.”?

Even from edited tapes Prabhupadas intent was very clear, but still it would be such a benefit for all of us to hear it without cuts and edits.

Thank you for very personal and in fact amazing recollection of what happened and the reaction of then management. Of course a lot has changed to the social dynamics in ISKCON since then, but such radical thinking is always an inspiration to hear. Thank you.

your servant

Caitanya candrodaya dasa

Comment Posted By Caitanya candrodaya dasa On 13.08.2007 @ 12:46

When disciples challenge their gurus

Hare Krisna Kesava krsna prabhu.

It is interesting to note that in all areas of ISKCON where there is a strong mood of respect and veneration to gurus an amazing thing happens, devotees do attract new people. It often happens regardless of the qualification of the gurus, and rightly so as the principle is applicable in all cases regardless of adhikara, but its evident that the enthusiasm in guru disciple relationship appears to be the main driving force and fundamental reason for attracting mercy of Lord Caitanya in practical preaching. Or could it be that people without good fortune to receive this message will not generally be born in areas where there is an offensive or diminished mood in terms of guru-nistha? Possibly , but most likely not. Of course we should note that there is also a systematic effort by ritvik apa-sampradaya and many sympathizers to diminish any guru-nistha of devotees in thier gurus. It seems to be a form of systematic propaganda of a guru-avajna attitude mixed with apa-siddhanta priciples. Sadly again movement just does not expand in such situations and nobody seems to notice the connection… with nama-aparadha as a principle, after all padma purana listed nama-aparadhas are connected not only to personal chanting but to preaching of sankirtana and the spreading the holy name.

your servant


Comment Posted By Caitanya candrodaya dasa On 18.06.2007 @ 12:44

Kirtan Standards Committee

I hope to share my favorite verse about Kirtanam standards with SPs translation. Of course it should be kept in mind when saying things like: “such kirtan is deficient” or Srila Prabhupada said this was “unbonafide”. All such instructions (if they were) given according to time and place..

“Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu instructed His disciples to write books on the Science of Krsna, a task which those who follow Him have continued to carry out down to the present day. The elaborations and expositions on the philosophy taught by Lord Caitanya are in fact most voluminous, exacting and consistent due to the system of disciplic succession. Although Lord Caitanya was widely renowned as a scholar in His youth, He left only eight verses, called ƚiksastaka. These eight verses clearly reveal His mission and precepts. These supremely valuable prayers are translated herein



namnam akari bahudha nija-sarva-saktis
tatrarpita niyamitah smarane na kalah
etadrsi tava krpa bhagavan mamapi
durdaivam idrsam ihajani nanuragah

O my Lord, Your holy name alone can render all benediction to living beings, and thus You have hundreds and millions of names like Krishna and Govinda. In these transcendental names You have invested all Your transcendental energies. There are not even hard and fast rules for chanting these names. O my Lord, out of kindness You enable us to easily approach You by Your holy names, but I am so unfortunate that I have no attraction for them.

Srila Prabhupada in Teachings of Lord Caitanya

Comment Posted By Caitanya candrodaya dasa On 12.06.2007 @ 14:28


Varaha Nrisima seems to asks: How far “it all” from the pure vaisnava tradition or bhakti that was brought to the west by SP.

The answer is: It is as far as (1) the time that separates them and (2) as long as distance that separates it (besides, of course, to the essential points that separate one tradition from the other, both of them taken as representing a personal aspect of the Supreme)

So if a person asks: “Now how far away is all this from Srila Prabhupada teaching pure bhakti to Krsna
 ?” (A rhetorical question of course because the person has already made up his mind)

If you ask…

Between 1900 to 200 years and about 20000 miles apart:-)

How helpful is such attitude for spreading the Sankirtan mission among
everybody anyhow? (Its not a rhetorical question)

(Its obvious that anyone who does put down other religions in the course of ones preaching (not religious Organizations or religious leaders, whom SP was sometimes putting down in the course of his preaching) makes ones preaching very ineffective and sectarian.) There are many remarks by SP which he has made on a regular basis and specifically when preaching in the Muslim world (e.g Tehran visit) where he would be positive about other religions. We should not take them as just being polite. SP had both: respect to other religions and absolute faith that pure bhakti of Samkirtan movement is the best way of deliverance in this age.

Comment Posted By Caitanya candrodaya dasa On 01.06.2007 @ 13:14

Its hard to see how multitude of religions is in one way a matter of choice that Krsna himself gives to jivas and is acording to time and place, not only due to some political move, just like there is a choice of sampradayas or rasas even in pure Vaisnava tradition. Even in ISKCON there is choice of gurus, temples and ashramas, and may I add a number of movements already separated itself from it, as an example. There an godulike web with a discussion forum on this same point - why are there so many religions. The author lists A-Z of as many as 200 in an irreverent manner. There is discussion forum there where devotees preach to atheists and agnostics as well.

But believe me its so easy to get across as dogmatic or sectarian - even wording of ones ideas is so important.

Comment Posted By Caitanya candrodaya dasa On 30.05.2007 @ 13:34


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