Nam Hatta: goings-on, developments and issues important to the
disciples and followers of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami
Srila Prabhupada, His Movement & Youby Hansadutta das
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From Hansadutta das,
Dear Dhanesvara Prabhu:
Please accept my most humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
Thank you for including our personal listing. I did not think you could publish my two advertisements for Srila Prabhupada, His Movement & You and Excommunicated, Uncommunicated, Incommunicado, because of your official ISKCON editorial policy.
I also think of you as a good friend and well-wisher. You are correct when you say, "After all--you are the one who has created the whole situation." Therefore I am trying to rectify that unfortunate creation by publishing Srila Prabhupada, His movement and You.
To accept Srila Prabhupada's last written doctrine to his leading disciples--"Act as rittvik of the Acharya"--means to be on the safe side, following the order of the spiritual master verbatim, without interpretation, speculation or doubt. But to interpret and presume to know better than the spiritual master is dangerous. In other words, it is safer to be foolish before the spiritual master than to think one's self over-intelligent. Even Lord Chaitanya posed Himself as foolish and accepted the order of His spiritual master to simply chant Hare Krishna as if He were a neophyte devotee, unfit for study of Vedanta. What harm can there be in being humble and accepting Srila Prabhupada's order to act as rittvik of the acharya?
It worked well while Srila Prabhupada was with us, and now that everyone has assumed the role of guru-acharya. everything is in chaos and confusion. I hope you are well.
P.S. Yes! I did read, as you suggested, the incident of Lord Shiva and Daksha, and it has reinforced my conclusions and convictions.
From Hansadutta das,
Dear Tirthakara Prabhu:
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
Thank you for your letter dated September 1, 1994. It was nice to hear from you after not seeing you since India.
You write, "If they can act in a humble way, in an honest way, where the disciple knows, 'My guru is not an uttama, but acts as a regular guru on Prabhupada's order,' isn't that acceptable? If both disciple and guru know this, then what is the harm?"
To be humble, honest and sincere means simply to be obedient to the order of Srila Prabhupada--"Act as rittvik." So you have asked, "What is the harm?" But I ask you what is the harm in being obedient to the order of Srila Prabhupada to act as rittvik--which is the only order he ever gave to any disciple by name and letter (July 9, 1977)? But to act without being ordered is very harmful, however humble, honest and sincere one may pose himself.
I think whatever doubt and confusion remains in your mind may be cleared up by reading the enclosed draft, which is a continuance of Srila Prabhupada, His Movement and You and our first attempt in publishing the Inside Nama Hatta newsletter. I'm anxious to have your honest response in this connection. I hope you are well.
Your humble servant,
From Bhakta das, Bangkok, Thailand
Dear Srila Trivikram Maharaja:
Please accept my most humble obeisances at your feet. All glories to His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada!
In connection with the final point in your last letter, i.e. "You will show your love for me by how much you co-operate together," isn't it important to consider why 90 percent of Srila Prabhupada's disciples have NO CONNECTION with their father's house any longer??
I mean, Maharaja, I did not willingly leave the shelter of ISKCON. I was told to get out and "die" by one of the eleven appointed acharyas. Another condemned me to become a mouse. Another told me that if I did not hand over my business interests and work under him, I would have no connection with Srila Prabhupada. Another told me that he was the only bona fide representative of Lord Chaitanya on this planet. Want me to go on?
I mean, Maharaja, how can I have confidence in the leadership of today's modern ISKCON society when some of these same men are still in the positions of power that they have held since December, 1977?
Is it not important to see the history and answer the doubts expressed by Yashodanandan, Puranjana, Guru Kripa and even Hansadutta? I have never seen a complete, coherent rebuttal of their clear arguments. I have seen partial rebuttals to some points, but it seems that those in power have no interest in actually doing their homework on the questions which cause so many of us to keep our distance from the mainstream of ISKCON.
I mean, right now the GBC says that active homosexuals, child molesters, drug abusers, etc. were part of our perfect and pure sampradaya . How does this philosophy fit in with the PARAMPARA which preceded us? I have never seen a single reference to a bona fide acharya being implicated in child sex, young boy sex and so many other activities one would expect from an ordinary, conditioned soul, but not from a self-effulgent, realised soul residing at the lotus feet of Sri Sri Radha Krishna.
Last year, you may know, we offered $108,000.00 in cash to any member of ISKCON's governing body to step forward and publicly debate with Yashodanandan, Hansadutta, myself and Guru Kripa, the validity of the guru-tattva philosophy now popular amongst the governors of legal ISKCON. We had the cash, but not one of your acharyas showed up for the challenge.
I believe the challenge is still open, but no one of these perfectly realised men is willing or able to defend their own position in a public forum. There are examples in our history of acharyas being challenged and even their young disciples were able to kick the butts of the challengers and make them run away in shame.
I do not claim to be a great debater or even a "shastra chakshu," but I know that Yashodanandan, Puranjana, Hansadutta, Guru Kripa and numerous others far more learned than I are ready at any time. If they are defeated, then they are ready to submit themselves at the feet of the conqueror and become his menial servants.
Mostly the points they make are ignored completely, and sentimental ideas about "co-operation" are espoused.
It seems logical that if Srila Prabhupada is our father, then his estate should have been equally distributed amongst all his sons and daughters. Instead, a few men seized the entire estate, killed their family members and now say, "Why don't you co-operate?" Is it not ludicrous?
Don't tell me Yashodanandan is not a sincere soul. Don't tell me Guru Kripa is not a sincere soul. Hansadutta fell down badly, but he's dragged himself back. He's publicly admitted his mistakes, he has publicly begged for the forgiveness of the devotees, and I am convinced that he has been blessed again by the Vaishnavas and by Srila Prabhupada, Lord Chaitanya and Sri Sri Radha Krishna.
His point, and the point of all of us, is that ISKCON's gurus have the tendency to think too much of themselves and to diminish and negate the incredibly exalted position which Srila Prabhupada has for the next 10,000 years.
We don't really care if you want to call yourselves guru, buru, rittvik priest, servant of the servant of the servant or whatever, but to see yourselves as being as good as the sum of all the demigods when you are still under the influence of the three gunas is insane.
I see the disease of desire for profit, recognition, distinction in my own heart, and it is poison which kills bhakti. I fight it day by day by performance of very straight-laced sadhana bhakti. I dread those days when someone is flattering me and my silly mind starts to take myself seriously. I mean, who are we, Maharaja? Where did we come from? Srila Prabhupada never singled any one of us out, saying, "He is a paramahamsa . Everyone may follow him when I am no longer with you." He never said anything like that. He said that we are all more or less the same. Knowing my own mind, I can understand somewhat that others must face the exact same challenges on the road as I do?
For the last two years, I have listened every single morning to one hour of classes by Srila Prabhupada. His beautiful life-size murti sits in front of me, with the tape player directly behind him. He has his garlands and tilak. I have his lectures in book form, which I can read as I listen. I know that today I am getting far more direct association and direct instruction from Srila Prabhupada than I ever did between 1969 and 1977, when he departed for Goloka. How can anyone say that he is not the guru today as he was then? Isn't our whole process based upon hearing from the perfectly realised soul and repeating and acting upon what we hear??? Is not this the process? Is not this submissive hearing in fact DIKSHA, or the imparting of divya-jñana?? Where in any shastra, any lecture or any letter does Srila Prabhupada say one must have a flesh and stool guru? I have never heard it, and I have heard the contrary repeatedly. It is a myth that one must have a flesh and stool guru . He must accept a guru, no doubt, but not an imperfect guru who is subject to the four defects. No, that kind of guru cannot take us to our destination.
I am daily seeing how people's lives are changed forever by simply sitting with Prabhupada's lecture books, reading the class and listening to him simultaneously. It is extremely powerful preaching. I would suspect that were ISKCON "gurus" focusing their energy on how to bring millions of souls to do this, instead of how to bring them to hear their own imperfect lectures, how fast the Krishna consciousness movement would spread!
Why can't we all do what we always did?? That is, bring the conditioned souls to hear from Srila Prabhupada, teach them how to obey Srila Prabhupada, and become his humble servants???
Always begging for your kindness, tolerance and mercy...
Your humble servant,
From Prataparudra das
Dear Hansadutta Prabhu:
Please accept my most humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
I have been talking to you quite a bit on the phone lately, so I risk repeating myself a lot. The most pertinent point of interest is the Nama Hatta. As I told you, the concepts presented in it are not very popular with Sevananda, formerly Dharmaraja, and it appears that he speaks for the Tripurari Swami's whole math, if not for the Gaudiya Vaishnava Society in general.
From what I have read in the Nama Hatta and what you have told me, it doesn't seem that the rittvik concept is very popular in ISKCON, either. Your realization is that Prabhupada intended all of you ("guru-acharyas") to be merely rittvik priests, initiating devotees on his behalf, but never replacing him in any way. This sounds fair to me, and I certainly know of no evidence to the contrary.
If all existing Vaishnava "gurus" were to step down to the level of merely initiating devotees on Prabhupada's behalf, and if that act of humility were sufficient to skyrocket Lord Chaitanya's movement to immense world popularity, I would say that your entire realisation was not only well-intentioned, but highly effective. What actually will happen remains to be seen.
As I told you, many devotees may take the position that, "Well, now that Hansadutta has disgraced himself and has no standing, he simply wants to drag all his god-brothers down with him." I don't believe that this is the case. I support you, Hansadutta, in your effort to clarify Prabhupada's desires for his movement and his devotees. "Purity is the force." Therefore, to the extent that all living Vaishnavas understand Prabhupada's desires, Lord Chaitanya's Sankirtan movement will flourish accordingly, to the betterment of all living entities on earth.
You have always been a revolutionary, and I support you in your efforts to further transcendental realization for all beings. Please call me when you expect to visit this area. It will be a great blessing to share your association for the first time in many years. Please also give my blessings to your wonderful wife, Lakshmi devi dasi and to all your children, whose names I don't even know. Hare Krishna, Hare Rama!
Your humble and worthless servant,
From Nitai Gouranga das
Dear Hansadutta Prabhu:
Please accept my humble obeisances, kindly forgive my offences, and yes, all glories to Srila Prabhupada!
I just read the latest Nama Hatta newsletter, which I received as a gift from Yashodanandan Prabhu a few days ago while I enjoyed his generous hospitality. He was interested to hear about my visit to six temples in Europe this fall, and he mentioned how he would not be able to do this, as he is "too well known," like yourself.
Although I look very young, I joined Srila Prabhupada's movement twenty years ago, when Bhakta das was president at the San Francisco temple. I haven't always been able to associate with ISKCON devotees, so am not well known at all outside California.
When I arrived at the European temples in September, I was able to perform experiments in how devotees are treated, based upon their "initiation status."
First, in Paris I said I was a disciple of Srila Prabhupada, but never met His Divine Grace in person. [Of course, I was initiated in December, 1979, not January, 1980, as your list reports, with yourself officiating. You may recall I could not even remember your name during the ceremony, as I had been praying to Srila Prabhupada for six years--1974-79--already up to that moment.] Since all Californians consider me a Hansadutta disciple, I've never been respected by ISKCON rank and file. Well, introducing myself as a Prabhupada disciple, the sudden honour and respect I was given amazed me. I have never been treated so well! The bhaktas looked up to me, the disciples of ISKCON gurus envied me, and my "god-brothers" (rare) were kind.
When directly asked by a god-brother about the details of my initiation, I did lie to him about the date, and he could tell I was lying, so the experiment had to stop in Paris.
Next, in London, Soho Street, I presented myself as Prabhupada's disciple, initiated under the rittvik system while Prabhupada was still visible to the material eye. It was painful to see the envy in the eyes of those initiated after Prabhupada's disappearance, and they would say things to me like, "You are so fortunate to be connected with Prabhupada" and "It is so wonderful that you can serve Prabhupada directly." I would say to them that they were already more directly serving Prabhupada than I ever did, but still they seemed to me to be despairing. I also refused to say who conducted the ceremonial fire sacrifice, "because it doesn't matter; it was approved."
Then, in the Bhaktivedanta Manor, where, as everywhere I resided full time for three days or more, I introduced myself as what I actually am: a disciple of Srila Prabhupada who never ostensibly met His Divine Grace and was initiated soon after his disappearance by a GBC-approved person, whose name I would only reveal to confidants, so as not to cause trouble or alarm. The result was a mixture of respect and suspicion. Neither the bhaktas nor the initiates knew what to do, but the old-time Prabhupada disciples not in positions of importance were very kind to me.
At the Dublin temple, I introduced myself as a "disciple of Srila Prabhupada, but I never met him. If you want to know the details, just ask." Here I was treated at first with cold suspicion (although provided for kindly, as an uninvited guest), and I soon found out I had been labeled a dangerous "rittvik," who should not be spoken to! When I challenged the authority who called me "that" and told him my true story, he admitted that yes, I was Prabhupada's disciple. I told him I wasn't going to talk about it to the bhaktas--which is true. I never took sides, although I would correct erroneous and exaggerated stories if I heard them. Believe me, the rittvik question was hanging over every temple like an ominous, dark cloud, dark with rain.
At the Hare Krishna Island I was treated just like a long-lost relative. I introduced myself as a Prabhupada disciple initiated after his disappearance, and was encouraged especially by a gentle old-time Prabhupada disciple who oversees the repairs to great damage caused by an ISKCON guru still in power, whose activities were insane.
After a short visit to the Belfast temple, I returned to Soho Street, London for a week, during which gentle Radha Madhava Brahmachari engaged me in service and treated me as his own brother. But then, he knew me in California.
In conclusion, I was treated differently by those concerned with politics than those concerned with Prabhupada. That is just my opinion, and I must also add that I was fed, housed and clothed for more than 33 days and nights at six ISKCON temples, though I arrived dirty, poor and unknown. Certainly I am in debt to all the devotees who supported my existence in Europe, no matter where they stand on the issues.
It was simply sad to see plenty of bhaktas and new initiates looking upon me as having something they could never be allowed to grab onto: PRABHUPADA'S MERCY DIRECTLY.
Therefore, with this letter, let me publicly take a stand in support of the rittvik system of becoming disciples of Srila Prabhupada simply because it provides relief to those really thirsty for Prabhupada's mercy. Those against it all have, it seems, something to lose. Those for it, something to share. I hope this letter finds you well.
One fallen, conditioned soul,
From Raghunath das, Italy
I am writing to tell you that I cannot thank you enough for finally having the courage and humility to reveal the truth. You have been a key factor to finally ending what has been a very painful and long inner struggle, a battle that began in Vrindavan Gurukula back in the early eighties.
I was born into the movement and raised in its ideals. As early as I can remember, I knew I was part of an organization that was going to change the world. I was raised with the feeling that I was lucky to have been born in the Hare Krishna's. My parents told me I was part of a generation that would set an example for the world. I accepted this as the truth. I remember as a kid how much I believed in the movement. I made a lot of effort to please my parents, so much so that when they asked me back in 1980 if I wanted to go to Gurukula in Vrindavan, India, Krishna's birth place, I agreed enthusiastically, although I had mixed feelings inside.
I was five years old. I knew nothing but the Hare Krishna movement. And I really was set on becoming a brahmachari. I guess, as a child I had a natural taste for Krishna consciousness, and as a child I was able to feel its pure form. I know kirtan in the temple felt good. All the philosophy, customs, ideals were very easy to understand. I know I was very clear-minded (but spacey) and felt naturally that my elders were just as happy. So I was pretty surprised when some teachers would tell me to be more serious or whatever. I couldn't understand why I should change the state I was in and be angry and mopey like some people. Most of all, I couldn't understand how the people teaching me how to live weren't just as blissful as I was. The programs, festivals, feasts were all big occasions. And the people that were teaching me were usually chastising me for this, punishing me for that. Then there were a lot more darker events. Most of those memories only surfaced recently.
Letters were screened before sending to home. It turned out to be four years of heavy experiences. I remember surviving malaria and lots of tests of endurance. I guess I got to be known as a pretty tough cookie. That feedback started getting me rebellious. I never cleaned my trunk, refused to go for outings, not get phased by beatings. I knew they were not what they claimed.
Anyways, made it out, never talked to my parents about the place. Either I was too happy to be home or liked the praise from my parents of how proud they were too much that it slipped my mind. Spent next couple of years in the Philippines, getting my first exposure to public school and the outside world. Started seeing how few Hare Krishna's compared to the rest of the world there was. Spent a lot of time answering questions about my hair and neck beads and after a couple of years in public school, started becoming embarrassed for being different. Started to really be uncomfortable with my background. Finally, I was 13, and I went to go live in Germany with my grandparents, who were happy to get me away from the movement. Only ended up starting a long haul of drug use and hanging out on the streets that ended only recently.
All the scandals in the movement had me convinced that Krishna consciousness was nothing but a scam, like they said. I lost all faith for a long time. Only till two years ago did I start looking at Prabhupada's books. I didn't know what to believe. They seemed to make a lot of sense, but if they had all the answers, then why were major gurus dropping out, why were people being killed and kids raped?
I couldn't understand the logic and decided they might have some good ideas but weren't practical.
Very recently, we had a visit at our house from Krishna Balarama Swami. I joined him in a long kirtan. Afterwards, I felt very good. He also gave me a couple of your magazines.
In just one night of reading, the cloud that had been blocking my vision for 3/4 of my life was suddenly gone.
I thank Krishna for bringing his messenger of mercy to my door. I have finally had my faith in Krishna consciousness and Prabhupada's books fully revived. I can open one of his books now and fully understand the knowledge. Maybe I can fully recharge that energy that I had as a child.
I offer my heartfelt thanks and gratitude for doing what you have done. I guess Hansa means swan, and swan symbolizes grace, and through Krishna's grace you were able to reveal the truth, although I hear you had your own battle, too.
Anyways, I just felt I had to share my experience. I wouldn't mind hearing your personal view of the entire situation. Especially the present...
Hare Krishna!!! Jai Srila Prabhupada!!!
From Dvarakadhisa das
Dear Hansadutta das:
Hare Krishna. Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
Thank you for the Srila Prabhupada, His Movement and You publication. As far as I understand, I agree with your argument. After reading Srila Prabhupada's books, I had accepted him as my guru . I viewed taking initiation from you as the appropriate, personal way to link up with Srila Prabhupada, the parampara and Krishna. I am grateful for all that you taught me, and your honesty in trying to preach according to your realisation. I appreciate your efforts to uncover the truth about the qualifications of a bona fide guru.
The conclusion is that everyone, under all circumstances, should be encouraged to dive deep into the transcendental flow of the river of Srila Prabhupada's instructions. If someone helps us in this endeavor, we should offer the appropriate respect due. But we should always remember that for such assistance we are not obliged to become blind followers to be exploited by such helper gurus for money, prestige or other material enjoyments in the name of Prabhupada and ISKCON.
Pointing to the guru problem is not too difficult. Immature devotees have tried or are trying to fill the shoes of Srila Prabhupada, rather than trying to continue to follow in his footsteps. The rittvik solution you describe makes sense to me. I see guru as teacher, not boss. Devotional service is not limited to the authorization of ISKCON's officers. We need a guru to understand what devotional service is and to help us apply the philosophy in our lives. A guru helps his disciples graduate from gurukula. "Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; teach him how to fish, and feed him for a lifetime."
I had not been around ISKCON "leadership" for a long time. I came away as expected. There seem to be some who recognize past mistakes about authority, devotee relationships, sankirtan and congregational development, but there also seem to be a few who won't let go of their dying bureaucracy.
One devotee paraphrased your position, saying, "Hansadutta is saying no one can be guru, and Kirtanananda is saying only he is the guru."
I hope that preaching will be re-focused to practical, congregational development, such as the Nama Hatta program. Our goal is not to get someone to follow our orders; rather, it is to train people to apply Krishna consciousness in their own lives. The western psyche is based on rugged individualism, free enterprise and material success. Most Westerners want the freedom to lead a self-determined life. "What's in it for me?" is a legitimate question. People are seeking practical solutions, not philosophical debate.
From Hansadutta das
Dear Chaitanya Mangala Prabhu:
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!
Thank you for your letter dated January 19, 1995. I read over both your letters to Manu very carefully. It is obvious that there are many details of contention regarding your relationship with Manu and his with you and other people. Rather than go into every detail of your disagreement, I want to say that unless we are firmly established in Krishna consciousness, it is impossible to avoid quarrel, controversy and dissension amongst each other. As you know, I have first-hand experience. Perhaps I am one of the most controversial, contentious and quarrelsome persons in Srila Prabhupada's family. My personal misunderstanding of Srila Prabhupada and his instructions to his leading disciples at the time of his disappearance from this world has lead to gargantuan destruction and immeasurable pain for innumerable devotees, both first generation and second generation and probably for generations to come. After many years of agonizing and searching in the fire of ordeal, it is my firm conviction and realisation that every problem experienced within our family of Krishna devotees stems from one root cause and can be solved only by addressing that root cause. In a word, it is the negligence and disregard--whether willful or unknowing--of the order of the spiritual master, His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada, the Sampradaya Acharya. The Christians worship Christ, the Buddhists worship Buddha, the Sikhs worship Guru Nanak, the Mohammedans worship Mohammed, the communists worship Marx, so similarly, the devotees should worship Srila Prabhupada. Anything which deviates from this fundamental truth will simply lead to chaos, confusion, misunderstanding and failure.
All these points regarding Srila Prabhupada as the perfect leader or the Sampradaya Acharya and everyone else as his eternal servant or representative must be understood clearly. We must deal with the root cause of all problems and not the apparent effects. We have elaborately explained this in different publications. I think you would do well to re-read those publications very carefully with a very open mind. Although Srila Prabhupada is not physically present to give directives, he nevertheless remains the hub of the wheel of the Vaishnava community world-wide, both past, present and future. Those devotees who sincerely see themselves and act as the representatives of the Acharya in the capacity of rittvik representatives can help us to resolve the differences in an atmosphere of quarrel and dissension, which has spread to every nook and cranny of the Vaishnava community world-wide. Those devotees who have uncompromising allegiance to the lotus feet of Srila Prabhupada and his instructions can help us. You can be such a person. One has only to think, "What would Prabhupada say? What would he do?" The inspiration that comes to us in this spirit is the spirit of serving Srila Prabhupada.
That is called faith. One who has unflinching faith in the words of the spiritual master and Krishna, to him all the imports of Vedic wisdom are revealed. You can act as the representative of Srila Prabhupada. But first we must dismiss all other contenders for the position and prestige of Srila Prabhupada's office.
Dear Chaitanya Mangala, I know that you are a very intelligent, thoughtful devotee. In the presence of Srila Prabhupada there was no controversy, no confusion, no doubt, because he was perfect and pure. It was impossible to resist him. Everyone submitted enthusiastically to his instructions. The same clarity is there for anyone who unconditionally, uncompromisingly and with complete faith and 100 percent allegiance embraces Srila Prabhupada as the leader and follows him without fear from love, friendship and society.
You are thinking of participating in leading the second generation through the publication of As It Is. But before you can lead, you must follow. Srila Prabhupada is without a doubt the undisputed leader. Why not follow him? Why take a risk with someone doubtful? This is the only advice I can give to you, because I see this is the root of all our problems. Srila Prabhupada, the perfect leader, cannot be replaced by a dozen, two dozen or even 100 imperfect men, regardless of how high-sounding their titles may be--guru, GBC, swami or whatever.
I hope this letter meets you well. Please let me know what you think.
Your humble servant,
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Srila Prabhupada, His Movement & You - Correspondence 6/Inside Nam Hatta
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