Topanga Canyon Pyramid House Talks (1980 Classic)
Tamal Krishna talks about Srila Prabhupadas Ritvik instruction
In late 1980 Tamal Krishna Goswami and Hansadutta Swami were travelling around ISKCON, having been suspended as gurus and GBC’s by the GBC body for activities unacceptable to them, such as demanding that his godbrothers must approach Srila Prabhupada through him. They had been relieved of their zones. TKG called for an open discussion at Nrsinghananda’s Pyramid House in Topanga Canyon, CA. on December 3, 1980. Hansadutta, Dhira Krishna, Kirtiraja, Jayadwaita and others were present, and the talk was recorded. Below are some of the interesting statements
|Tamal Krishna Goswami
died in a car crash
on the road to Calcutta
March 15th 20002
made therein, where Tamal Krishna frankly admits, that Srila Prabhupada never appointed any gurus.
USA, Jan 27 (VNN) — December 3, 1980
VNN-World, January 27, 1999 VNN2917
Dhira-Krsna Swami: If you read it with Bhaktivedanta purport, you’re reading Bhagavad-gita under the guidance of a bona fide spiritual master.
Hamsadutta: That’s a fact.
Dhira-Krsna Swami: Now, of course, you’ll find in Bhagavad-gita how to recognize the spiritual master, also.
Hamsadutta: But still the person must be there. He must be present to give a practical example.
Dhira-Krsna Swami: Right. That’s true.
Hamsadutta: And that’s where the whole thing went amiss. The practical example just wasn’t there for people to see. You remember yourself in the beginning. How did we used to distribute books? Do you remember how?
Dhira-Krsna Swami: Well, I know what I was doing.
Hamsadutta: Eight people would chant. Right? And two or three would distribute magazines or whatever, and they stayed always within the proximity of the vibration of the kirtan. Then they switched around. Sometimes another three or four persons would then sell and the others would chant. In this way there was the book, which you could take home and refer to, and there’s the example of a person who’s applying, actually exhibiting, renunciation in the presence of maya. Right in the thick of maya, here’s a person who’s coming out in robes. He’s got a shaved head.
He’s singing Hare Krsna. He looks very nice, and if you speak with him, he’s a gentleman. That element is quite lacking. It became more and more two people chanting and eight people running around. Then wigs and this and that and it just got further and further removed until it’s so far gone, that the public just says, “Wait a minute.”
When you read that Syracuse Decision, that’s what the judge said, “They do everything except tell you about their religion. They give everything but the very thing which they are supposed to be giving – their spiritual paraphernalia – their book or their record.”
So they concluded that these people are misusing their First Amendment rights for soliciting funds. They’re not interested. That was the conclusion it came to, and when you examine it, that is the only conclusion they can come to, because in fact, we have artificially inflated our standard of living.
For the sake of whatever we may say, but it didn’t work. “It we have a big building, the public will like it.” But is there any devotee here who was attracted to the building? It was 26 Second Avenue when Jayadvaita Maharaja came, and the place was full of cockroaches, and everything was happening in one room.
In this way, in the name of making an impression to the public, we became more and more involved in methods that were very successful for soliciting funds, but not very successful for attracting people’s faith or awakening their faith to Krsna consciousness. In fact, the only opulence a devotee has to exhibit is his renunciation and his knowledge. You can’t compete.
Just like this house, it’s very nice, but there are probably hundreds of them on this hill. That kind of exhibition is secondary. The primary exhibition is, “Is he renounced? Is he knowledgeable? Is he pure?” Purity is the force.
We’ve gone too far away from that. When there’s someone who actually is renounced, it attracts people, just like Prabhupada attracted us. And his knowledge attracted us. That was sufficient. Everything else is by-the-way, but we became more and more concerned with the secondary matter, with the form rather than the content.
Dhira-Krsna Swami: That’s to be expected from neophytes.
Hamsadutta: Yes, but that has to be recognized and you have to adjust.
Dhira-Krsna Swami: It’s like the devotees who were out doing kirtana those late ’60s, early ’70s, it’s not that they were the epitome of knowledge and renunciation and somehow we got deviated.
Hamsadutta: No, but the point is, when you’re attracted by renunciation, you can remain in it if you exhibit and preach it yourself.
Dhira-Krsna Swami: Right.
Hamsadutta: If you receive knowledge, you can maintain it and expand it when you extend it to others. That’s where we fall short, and that’s why we find so many of our devotees have gone away because they simply haven’t been able to have a substantial spiritual life being engaged in something where they have to repeatedly confront the public with their innermost convictions. You follow? That’s a very important point. The result is we have an institution, but the primary purpose or the essence of the thing is very difficult to find, and we can see it in our activities. We’re all engaged in bickering in our activities. We’re all engaged in bickering over completely insignificant matters, and with very heavy points, to the point of actually deposing each other. The leaders are attacking one another, suspecting one another. How are we going to go on?
The followers will all be totally bewildered. What to think? That straightforwardness of the missionary’s work is very important. That’s like when you’re in the war and the enemy’s attacking, the soldier takes off his dog tags and changes uniform, that means he’s becoming a coward, a deserter.
Of course it’s to be expected if we’re all neophytes, but now we have to recognize it and we have to adjust. We can’t just go on. We have very drastic, critical problems in our society. Some of the senior members have gone away. They’ve just walked out. Isn’t it?
Dhira-Krsna Swami: Yah, it’s true.
Hamsadutta: And some that are still with us are preparing them, or they’re in it, but they’re really far removed.
Anyway, Tamal Krsna Goswami has had a very important realization about how some of these problems have been plaguing us for the last two years practically, since Prabhupada disappeared. How they’ve come to be, regarding this guru issue and appointment or expanding it or restricting it. That’s why he wanted some of you to come and hear, because I think this will be a breath of fresh air for some people. I’d rather have him talk about it.
But one thing is for sure: The basis, the foundation of our society, which is love and trust, or the premise that we’re all here for one common interest and that is to serve Krsna and Prabhupada, that has been cracked. It’s shattered. Everyone is looking at the other person with suspicion on the premise, “This person, why did he come? What for? Why is he doing this?” In other words, not giving him immediately the recognition whatever he’s doing, he’s doing it because this is the best thing for Krsna or this is the way he thinks Prabhupada is best served. But we’re beginning with the premise that this person has an ulterior motive.
As soon as we deal with one another like that, then the whole basis of our association is lost.
Dhira-Krsna Swami: That comes from viewing each other externally.
Dhira-Krsna Swami: So that if you look at anyone externally, you’ll come to an external conclusion.
Dhira-Krsna Swami: So, it’s a fact, we can’t ignore their undercurrent spiritual consciousness.
Hamsadutta: Yes, completely. It’ll be complete. Just like Krsna – Krsna Himself – the whole world rose up against Him, and He’s the Supreme Personality of Godhead. And He’s being attacked. He’s being looked at with suspicion. This is the sum and substance. As Prabhupada writes in the Upadesha Amrta, The Nectar of Instruction, that for these 6 exchanges, dadati bhrati ghrinate, this society if founded, and that’s the last thing that’s happening.
The last thing in the world that we do is our Godbrother open-mindedly and with trust that, if I say something, even if it’s wrong or off-the-wall, he’s not going to take it any further than that, except saying, “That doesn’t sound right to me.” But, rather, what’s happening, just on hearsay people will call one another up, a big meeting will ensue and so many misunderstandings just because there’s no dadti bhrati ghrnate. If someone comes, immediately you think, “Why did he come? What does he want?” This is the basic problem. This is really the basic problem all around. Without approaching that person, we go to every other person, have a big pow-wow, and then decide that something’s got to be done. And the person in question is the last to know. By the time he finally gets to know it, he’s so overwhelmed with disappointment and fear that he just doesn’t know how to express himself, and when he tries to make his point, it just confirms everyone’s suspicion. You follow? The more he struggles to make his point and make himself understood, because everyone has sort of separated themselves and are approaching him in this mood, it becomes impossible. It can only end in disaster, and that’s what we have on our hands.
Everyone is wondering, “Who’s next? Who’s it going to fall on next? Who’s going to be the next person the shadow of doubt falls over?” Then everyone stands by and watches the fun. Actually, the last six months, they’ve played themselves out that way. Now so many things have gone under the bridge and, honestly, there’s been grievous mistakes made and offenses committed.
But persons who ought to be owning up to their shortcomings are not doing so, which is complicating the matter even further. The sanctity, the sacredness of our relationships, our association has been completely dragged through the mud or vilified or broken.
Jayadvaita Swami: I could agree with that.
Hamsadutta: Even a person like Sridhar Swami, we approach him, he gives advice, and then, “Well, he doesn’t know anything.” And all the devotees are seeing it or hearing about it. What’s the standard.
Everywhere there’s chaos and bewilderment.
Dhira-Krsna Swami: Well, it’s like gold. If you know what the qualities of gold are, how to recognize it by its characteristics, then…
Hamsadutta: Then you can’t be cheated.
Dhira-Krsna Swami: whenever you find gold, you’ll…
Hamsadutta: Grab it.
Dhira-Krsna Swami: Right. And if you don’t know what is gold, even if someone gives you gold, you might throw it away.
Hamsadutta: Right. This chaos, doubt and confusion which is passing through our movement is not going to be solved in time, as someone told me the other day. It’s notgoing to be removed by having a paper written or another meeting. It’s going to be resolved only when with our doubts we can come to one another and say, “I have this doubt,” and place it before that person without fear that he’s going to call me a snake, a rascal, a fool, envious, or without fear of being removed from my position.
There’s only one medicine for our problem and that is this exchange of the mind. I’m revealing my mind to you and, assuming that you have the same interest that I have and not suspecting, “Well, if I tell him this, will he immediately go and tell this person who’s then going to tell him, and then they’re going to do this, and then….” Everything becomes frozen like that. This doubtfulness and fear is freezing everyone and restricting all our activities. We ourselves have become the greatest obstacles to spreading Krsna consciousness because we can’t approach one another anymore, or we can’t feel free to approach the matter of preaching according to our individual realization or enthusiasm. Everyone has a particular nature.
Everyone has a particular understanding of Prabhupada’s teaching, of Krsna’s teaching. And everyone is entitled to express it, and that’s what devotional service is – the freedom to express our love and our understanding of Krsna, of our spiritual master by whatever means is available to us.
As soon as someone tries to restrict that and dictate and impose on it you’re creating havoc. You’re just destroying that person’s devotional service.
Jayadvaita Swami: I disagree. I disagree.
Hamsadutta: You can disagree.
Jayadvaita Swami: Because, I think, my general perspective is that, first of all, we live in a society. Society means that there are going to be restrictions. For instance, I’d like to do certain things in the society which the other members are not going to agree is a good idea. My efforts in that regard are going to be restricted. Someone’s going to say, “This is not the best way to do it for such and such a reason.”
Hamsadutta: That’s all right, but when it’s done in the mood of conspiracy, then it’s not a society.
Jayadvaita Swami: I agree.
Hamsadutta: And it’s not social, it’s antisocial.
Jayadvaita Swami: I agree. My second point was that I don’t really see that the dealings in the society as a whole have been characterized by a kind of watch dog….
Hamsadutta: Well, I can give you an example. You want me to give you an example?
Jayadvaita Swami: Can I finish this point? Can I just finish this point? I don’t see that the affairs of the society as a whole have been characterized by that watch dog, conspiratorial, suspicious approach to things. I just see that within certain specific instances that the approach has been….
Hamsadutta: Well, a chain is as strong as its weakest link. If we are in an absolute relationship of Krsna consciousness, which it is, because this society is an absolute society. It is a society which is concerned with Krsna, the Whole, and our relationship with Him, and naturally our relationship amongst each other. When on the highest levels of that social structure, the leaders are being conspired against or upon, then you’re in trouble. You’re in big trouble.
Jayadvaita Swami: I can carry the point further, but I don’t think I should.
Hamsadutta: I just had an incident where Bhagavan Maharaja got on the phone and deliberately set up a conspiracy, but at the same time, when talking with me, he’s telling me, “Love and trust and this and that.” If I hadn’t arrived at the eleventh hour, the whole yatra would have been destroyed, just as the Berkeley yatra was destroyed. I don’t see where these kind of dealings benefit this movement or the public. The public’s looking at us and thinking we’ve gone off.
Kirtiraja: They’re more confused than the devotees. I know because I get letters in. People write and they say, “I’ve been reading Prabhupada’s books for 12 years; I chant 16 rounds a day and follow all the regulative principles; I offer my food. But what the hell is going on in the Society?” They write like that. Straightaway they write like that.
Hamsadutta: I don’t mean to sit here and point a finger at someone, but we have to at least admit this much: That we are making a lot of mistakes. If we’re not prepared to come to this point, then there really is just nothing that can be done. Being polite is not enough.
Kirtraja: I think what you said about approaching each other is definitely a fact. That if we find it really easy to talk amongst ourselves, to talk amongst our peers, then when it comes to direct something that’s meant to be directed the way Prabhupada set up to go to the GBC, then no one wants to do it for fear of – like you said – you’re a snake or you get thrown out of your position or the authority won’t feel that you are a trusted member of the community anymore.
Hamsadutta: Our authorities are our authorities because we accept them. We accept them because they have inspired us with faith and trust because they exhibit real love for us. But the leaders must not misuse that position which is being given to them by the devotees. As long as they agree to show their respect and recognize their superiority in learning, renunciation, purity, then it works. If the leaders do things which break the love and trust of the followers, then there’s no use saying, “I’m the GBC, and you’ve got to do this.” Or, “I’m the guru.”
It just doesn’t make any sense. Some persons, out of economic necessity may be caught up and go along, but your best men are just going to fade out. They’re just going to walk away from it. There are very good men who are actually thinking – yourself one day you told me, “I never thought I’d see the day when I would think that well, maybe I have to leave this movement.”
I’ve spoken with other leading devotees. There’s nothing wrong with them, but why are they saying that. Because there is something wrong in our relationships, in our dealings with one another. This should be given very serious consideration by everyone, not just yourself or myself or the GBC, but every devotee is ultimately responsible for his spiritual life. You can’t really point the finger at another person. As you say, if you know gold, you’re going to grab it whenever you see it.
So it’s our business to know what gold is. Or it is our business to know what spiritual life is and what spiritual life is not, and not simply who is the GBC and who isn’t, because, as we’ve seen, even GBCs make mistakes. Or we’ve seen gurus make mistakes, but that doesn’t mean that spiritual life is over now for that person or the person who happened to be a victim of such a mistake. It simply means that we’ve got to come to that humble position and accept that this is where we’re at. We make so many mistakes, and get off our high horses. Be honest with ourselves and with each other.
Dhira-Krsna Swami: But also it means, for example, that an individual can correct himself. So also, collectively, if a body makes a mistake, they can also correct themselves.
Hamsadutta: Can and should and must! Otherwise, it’s just not going to work. Right now, for example, you have two zones, my zone and Tamal Krsna Goswami’s zone, the devotees in these zones – GBC doesn’t mean anything. No GBC man could go to any one of those devotees and say, “Listen, you’ve got….” They’d just laugh at him. That is how they have created their image in that way in the eyes of these devotees. Say what you may, but that’s what it’s come to. There are, of course, so many other examples. You can say the same thing about me. If I go somewhere, people would laugh at me.
We have a serious problem in our movement. Basically, we don’t know how to communicate in Vaisnava spirit – dadati bhrati ghrnate. We are not doing it. The only time someone shows up in your zone, in most instances, is when they’re coming to investigate you. It’s really like that. I was in America for three years almost, and the only time a GBC man showed up is when it was time for an investigation or to lay one on me. But it wasn’t just to come and have some prasadam and have some association because I happened to like or he happened to like me. That’s very unfortunate because that’s the one pleasure that we can indulge in as devotees – that we can associate and relish the association of a like-minded person – sadhu sanga. But it’s not happening.
Devotee: One thing is that in the Seventh Chapter of Adi-lila, Srila Prabhupada says that nothing can stop this movement. We’re experiencing what seems like a stumbling of the movement, a stunting, but Prabhupada said that as long as the leaders are following the regulative principles and chanting their rounds, nothing can stop this movement. So that also has to be analyzed.
Hamsadutta: The Movement will not stop, but Prabhupada carried on the Movement for Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupada. But there could have been many other personalities who came along, but they didn’t come. Definitely it will go on, if it’s even by only one person. In what degree, what intensity it will go on, that’s an individual matter. Everyone is individually responsible for his spiritual life. You just can’t mechanically become a follower. That won’t work. It won’t work.
That’s what makes the Christian church, which we left behind, so repulsive, that the followers are not enlightened. They simply do things, “Because my father did it or because the priest said it,” or for no reason at all they’re simply going through the motions of being part of a religious community. But they don’t have any conviction, therefore they can’t stand on it. Everything becomes just a club or an institution.
Kirtiraja: Bingo game.
Hamsadutta: Bingo game.
Hamsadutta: We were just speaking in general how there is a lack of being able to communicate on a Vaisnava platform of love and trust.
Jayadvaita Swami: It wasn’t an artificial decision in the sense that there were some things that I would have said…
Tamal Krsna Goswami: You should understand my disciples. They have heard that I’ve broken the principles and fallen down; they have heard that I don’t chant my rounds. I don’t think there’s anything you could possibly say to my disciples that they haven’t already heard.
Jayadvaita Swami: I just feel there are some discussions that are more appropriate.
Hamsadutta: Jayadvaita Maharaja, you really have to understand that my disciples, as he has brought his, have heard everything. They’ve heard things that you haven’t heard.
Jayadvaita Swami: I still think that even if they’ve heard the world and more there are still things I wouldn’t say in their presence that I’d say outside of their presence.
Tamal Krsna Goswami: I really think that this is one of the major stumbling blocks that is stopping our movement. The disciples have been treated like babies which I resent. There is no possibility of the future development of our movement as long as the disciples are kept in this position.
I’ll tell you something that is the natural feeling of the father to want his son to grow up, and the fact that you’re not yet having any sons, has a lot to do with your sharing your feelings. This is a very natural thing, when community members sit together, like in India when family members sit together, there are no secrets. The brothers sit together, the oldest son sits with him, the nephews sit together and discuss the family business. You see, all of us have only one common point: That we want to see Krsna consciousness spread. If there’s some truth, there’s nothing to be afraid about, because of all people the father believes in and confides in his son.
His son knows all the defects of his father better than anybody, but he doesn’t love his father any less for them. Just like Prabhupada. He saw all of our defects, but he didn’t love us less because of those defects. It doesn’t go just downward; it goes upward, also. Of course, with Prabhupada we didn’t see defects. Our disciples may see things, but I tell you, they won’t see them. I clearly told them now, after Sridhar Swami presented this to me, of the guru having two feet in the mud – I clearly told them that I have two knees in the mud, not two feet. The only thing that may be out of the mud are these two spectacles. These are sticking out of the earth like this and I’m looking up out on top and the rest is submerged in mud. But that doesn’t make them love me any less because I’m their only connection to Prabhupada and then through the parampara to Krsna. But that doesn’t change their love. They can be told that.
I take it for granted that anything you say is only meant with the greatest love and, therefore, in that mood, anything can be heard. You don’t have to worry about it.
Jayadvaita Swami: Well, with all due respect for the point you’ve just made, I think it would be a different discussion without them.
Tamal Krsna Goswami: Well, then it’ll have to be because they’re going to be here.
Hamsadutta: Before you begin I want to point out two things, and you can proceed as you like. This is your night,
Tamal Krsna Goswami: It’s not my night at all.
Dhira-Krsna Swami: I just wanted to point out that Sridhar Maharaja point out that when Krsna appeared in Kamsa’s arena, he was viewed differently by different persons. Those views were all true. He was death personified for Kamsa. He was a cowherd boy from Vrndavana. People saw him in so many different ways, according to their relationship. He descrihed that Krsna’s playing in the line of guru in a particular person.
Some people may appreciate that, and there may be different appreciations of the degree and love, but for the disciple he is absolute. But a Godbrother’s consideration may be influenced by relatives in judging the Godbrothers, so there are two different points of view.
He advised at that time. He said that one should not exhibit his mental conception of his Godbrother before his disciples.
Tamal Krsna Goswami: I follow what you’re saying, but….
Dhira-Krsna Swami: No, but I’m saying that two wrongs don’t make a right- that they dishonored you. He said that when dishonor comes to a man’s guru, that is the worst thing in a man’s life when that happens. Now you’re telling us in an open assembly, “Go ahead and dishonor gurus.”
Tamal Krsna Goswami: No, I’m not telling you that because….
Dhira-Krsna Swami: Because someone dishonored gurus before.
Tamal Krsna Goswami: If I thought that’s what you were going to do, I wouldn’t want to bother talking to you because I don’t want to bother talking to people who want to dishonor a guru. If that’s what your intention is….
Dhira-Krsna Swami: It’s not the intention, but it may look like that by the disciple.
Tamal Krsna Goswami: Well, it won’t be looked at that way because they’re intelligent. They’re spiritually intelligent. I think that you’re insulting their intelligence. They are intelligent and they’ll hear your sincere intentions. The fact that you don’t exhibit this in this temple and in most temples of the world, we keep the disciples in a diapered condition, and that is one of the big problems, That’s the problem with this movement. It’s not going to grow until you give up that mentality, because some of them are a hundred times better than me or you. And they’re not going to get that until they’re let into this movement, until they sit on that GBC council, and until they’re sitting with us and having these discussions because they’re Vaisnavas and they have to hear these issues.
Devotee: I don’t know how to reconcile both issues, but what he’s saying makes sense, because I’ve seen it from my own experience. When you treat a disciple….
Dhira-Krsna Swami: Let me say this one thing. In pramanas, which are evidences, experience is considered to be the worst evidence. The highest evidence is srava pramana, hearing.
Tamal Krsna Goswami: So what is the point?
Dhira-Krsna Swami: Well, I’m just saying, he’s saying on the basis of experience. I say experience is erroneous.
Tamal Krsna Goswami: I’m talking about sabda. I’ll show you the picture in Srimad-Bhagavatam where Sukhadeva Goswami’s speaking. Do you know who’s present?
Dhira-Krsna Swami: Everyone should be present.
Tamal Krsna Goswami: His disciples are present, his guru is present; they were all speaking together.
Hamsadutta: Dhira Krsna Maharaja, when we went to see Sridhar this last time, my disciples were present.
Rahugana: Yah, Sridhar Maharaja said it’s all right.
Hamsadutta: They were sitting right there. Sridhar was speaking and saying things to myself, to him, to our Godbrothers. Because it was a very intimate and a very, very important and critical time of their spiritual life, they had to be there. It was necessary. I can understand your point, but I think at this meeting it’s important for them to be here. It’s important for them and it’s important for me.
Dhira-Krsna Swami: May I just point out that I think that sometimes doing things like that prematurely what happens as a practical effect, is that you have one of your disciples – we can say that they’re more advanced and that can be true, but in general we can say that someone may take the point of view that now they’re equal or greater than the guru’s Godbrothers, as we did in Prabhupada’s case, which I think is a great mistake, also. In other words, you have Prabhupada’s disciples thinking, who were just eating meat, having illicit sex, getting intoxicated the year before, saying that all of Prabhupada’s Godbrothers were rascals.
Hamsadutta: As a general rule, I wouldn’t bring every one of my disciples and have him sit in a meeting, but there’s an exception to every rule.
Dhira-Krsna Swami: I’ll accept it, but I’m saying it may inhibit some persons to a certain degree. Well, it’s their decision; it’s their disciples.
Tamal Krsna Goswami: Be whatever you may say, they’re going to stay here.
Dhira-Krsna Swami: All right.
Tamal Krsna Goswami: My disciples are going to sit with me. To talk with me means to accept me in relationship with them also. That’s the GBC’s mistake if they think otherwise.
Jayadvaita Swami: Is there any precedent in this regard of Srila Prabhupada having darshana with his disciples and Godbrothers?
Tamal Krsna Goswami: Sometimes. Sometimes he excluded them and sometimes he included them. Sometimes he excluded them, and I couldn’t stand it and Prabhupada couldn’t stand it and nothing was reached. I can tell you that. When that happened on those occasions, nothing good came of it. But when Prabhupada’s disciples were allowed to be present, it was always very harmonious and sweet. But when his Godbrothers – I mean I can tell you when Madhu Maharaja came with three of his Godbrothers and he demanded that we leave the room, and I didn’t want to leave the room – and when I left the room I just stood outside because I wanted to protect Prabhupada because I couldn’t understand what they wanted. Afterwards Prabhupada said, “Thugs.” He called them thugs, hoodlums.
I think that you’re all my well-wishers and, therefore, there’s nothing to worry about. If you’re not my well-wishers, then obviously it’s good that you leave so they’ll find out. You don’t have to hold anything back. They’d see through that. That’s what I’m trying to say. They’re not blind; they can understand.
Anyway, we were starting to speak on the point of false identification – that genuine humility means to give up the false identification. The real humility will come when the soul is existing without its coverings. Our whole purpose in Krsna consciousness is to relieve the soul of its coverings and to help others to do so. Everything is based on that principle. Whatever will facilitate my soul’s liberation in its pure spiritual form as well as helping other people to do so, that is the basis of our movement. In this regard, I’ve had a certain realization a few days ago. I’ve been speaking with Hamsadutta Maharaja and Atreya Rsi and with Bhavananda Maharaja also, and all their conclusions were that somehow we should open up this point of initiated – the guru – to whoever is qualified. There are obviously so many statement by srila Prabhupada that his Guru-maharaja did not appoint any successors. Many times Prabhupada said, “There should be millions of gurus. This world requires millions of gurus.” Even in Prabhupada’s book he says “guru means by qualification.” Anyway, there are so many statements. But there was one thing that was stopping my agreeing to this point, which was I had personally seen how Prabhupada appointed these people, these 11 persons. In fact, when Siddhaswarupa came out with that haribol special I countered it with a five-page letter. Maybe you saw that letter,
Dhira-Krsna Swami: No I didn’t.
Tamal Krsna Goswami: Well it was a very good counter; it was pretty good. His whole point was this is bogus, that Prabhupada didn’t appoint and I don’t believe it. I said he did, and I quoted the thing where he did. There are 3 documents which show that he did. The first document is where five of us go to Prabhupada and asked Prabhupada about when someone is the guru after Prabhupada’s disappearance. Prabhupada said, “Yes.” The next time was when there was a recording and Prabhupada named them. The next time was that letter that Prabhupada signed.
This was standing in my way of appreciating their point, although their point has great value to appreciate, that if someone is qualified why he should not be making disciples. For example, he used you as an example. He said you could play the instruments like I can play, he can sing, he can quote better than me. He started to name your qualifications. I could do the same for Jayadvaita Maharaja or for so many people. The difference is so small if anything, and in some cases better.
Why is it that some people have this position and others don’t. Are they ever going to get it? Hardly. Who’s next in line. Oh, naturally, he should be senior – next in line. One day maybe this guy will be appointed and there’ll be 14, 15, 16- gradually, like that to get it. I was trying to understand. As Sadhaputa points out that there’s a – what is there in that article? – there’s something in the inspiration. The inspiration came because there was a questioning on my part, so Krsna spoke.
Tamal Krsna Goswami: Actually, Prabhupada never appointed any gurus. He didn’t appoint eleven gurus. He appointed eleven ritviks. He never appointed them gurus. Myself and the other GBC have done the greatest disservice to this movement the last three years (28 now) because we interpreted the appointment of ritviks as the appointment of gurus.
What actually happened, I’ll explain. I explained it, but the interpretation is wrong. What actually happened was that Prabhupada mentioned that he might be appointing some ritviks, so the GBC met for various reasons and they went to Prabhupada – five or six of us. We asked him, “Srila Prabhupada, after your departure, if we accept disciples, whose disciples will they be, your disciples or mine?” Later on there was a piled-up list for people to get initiated, and it was jammed-up. I said, “Srila Prabhupada, you once mentioned about ritviks. I don’t know what to do. We don’t want to approach you, but there’s hundreds of devotees named, and I’m just holding all the letters. I don’t know what you want to do.”
So Prabhupada said, “All right. I will appoint so many…,” and he started to name them and he did name them. He made it very clear that they’re his disciples. At that point it was very clear in my mind that they were his disciples. Later on I asked him two questions: 1) What about Brahmananda Swami? I asked him this because I happened to have an affection for Brahmananda Swami. I don’t know, I asked him because somehow he’s…I asked him, whatever. So Prabhupada said, “No, not unless he’s qualified.” Before I got ready to type the letter, I asked him: 2) “Srila Prabhupada, is this all or do you want to add more?” He said, “As is necessary, others may be added.”
Now I understand that what he did was very clear. He was physically incapable of performing the function of initiation physically; therefore, he appointed officiating priests to initiate on his behalf. He appointed eleven and he said very clearly, “Whoever is nearest, he can initiate.” This is a very important point, because when it comes to initiating if it isn’t whoever is nearest, it’s wherever your heart goes. Who repose your faith on, you take initiation from him but when it’s officiating, it’s whoever is nearest, and he was very clear. He named them. They were spread out all over the world, and he said, “Whoever you’re nearest, you just approach that person, and they’ll check you out. Then, on my behalf, they’ll initiate.” It’s not a question that you repose your faith in that person – nothing.
That’s a function for the guru.”In order for me to manage this movement,” Prabhupada said, “I have to form a GBC and I will appoint the following people. In order to continue the process of people joining our movement and getting initiated, I have to appoint some priests to help me because just like I cannot physically manage everyone myself, I physically cannot initiate everyone myself.” And that’s all that it was, and it was never any more than that. If it had been more than that, you can bet your bottom dollar that Prabhupada would have spoken for days and hours and weeks on end about how to set up this thing with the gurus, but he didn’t because he already had said it a million times. He said, “My guru-maharaja did not appoint anyone. It’s by qualification.”
We made a great mistake. After Prabhupada’s departure, what is the position of these eleven people? Obviously, Srila Prabhupada felt that of all the people, these people are particularly qualified. So it stands to reason that after Prabhupada’s departure, they would go on, if they so desired, to initiate.
Actually a sannyasi, for example, is considered to be spiritual master of the varnas and ashramas. The brahmana is considered to be the spiritual master also. Prabhupada showed that it’s not just sannyasis. He named two people who were grhasthas, who could at least be ritviks, showing that they were equal to any sannyasi. So anyone who is spiritually qualified – it’s always been understood that you cannot accept disciples in the presence of your guru, but when the guru disappears, you can accept disciples if you’re qualified and someone can repose their faith. Of course, they should be fully appraised at how to distinguish who is a proper guru. But if you’re a proper guru, and your guru is no longer present, that is your right. It’s like a man can procreate.
Similarly, it is a disciple’s duty to push forward. He may decide, “I don’t want to take disciples. I want to assist so-and-so.” He has that right. But if he feels the inspiration from within and he has the qualifications, and he realizes what it means to take disciples, that it is a heavy responsibility, and if someone reposes their [faith] in him, then he should go ahead and do that.
Unfortunately, the GBC did not recognize this point. They immediately sad these eleven people are the selected gurus. I can say definitely for myself, and for which I humbly beg forgiveness from everybody, that there was definitely some degree of trying to control. There’s a degree of this in most GBC’s parts, in most temple president’s parts. This is the conditioned nature, and it came out in the highest position of all. “Guru, oh wonderful. Now I’m a guru, and there’s only eleven of us.” Tthis is what led us into this pitfall. The GBC who weren’t gurus said, “I’m next in line.” This has screwed up our movement terribly. It has very much hurt our movement because it has left so many Godbrothers in a frustrated position, very, very frustrated, and it is dampening their enthusiasm, and it has held back the preaching mission.
I think that if you analyze very carefully some of the things which have taken place, you see that a lot of them – Yasodanandana’s incident – would have been avoided. Jadurani’s incident would have been. My incident in my zone would have been avoided. At least I can say all those, and I think our whole mentality- I think Jayatirtha’s incident would have been avoided. I think that if there had been a whole different mentality, there would be 79 gurus or 122, instead of 11 where you have to show some super-excellent qualifications.
I think it would also throw the position of the GBC into its proper perspective, which is not to control and to have every single thing channeled through it, but to support the preaching mission, to support and to facilitate the preaching mission. That is the actual business of the GBC, not to restrict it or retard it in any way. I think to some extent it’s doing that at this point. For example, I think that Srila Prabhupada – I personally feel – that the gurus don’t have to be GBC members, because the GBC is by-and-large a managerial function. Of course, it requires spiritual intelligence.
You can’t have a materialistic person become a GBC, but it is by-and-large a managerial function.
Prabhupada, for example, always wanted to get free of that managerial function. You have a guy like Bhaktipada who just doesn’t want to be a GBC.
Satsvarupa wants to write, and I tell you I don’t give a damn about being a GBC, and I’m even known as his manager. He certainly doesn’t want to..
Bhavananda doesn’t want to, because the natural inclination of the renunciate’s position, if not being guru is sannyasi, is to travel and preach. In the direction of manager, Prabhupada even said, and the sannyasis they have their special duties, what to speak of guru. He’s really got special duties.
Management is such a thing that it’s in this world, and this world has the three modes. Manager means that you have to make so many choices. You have to come so many times under the relative platform. I can tell you without trying to cop an excuse that so many different things that happened in my zone happened on account of my position of management. Believe me, if you think I was heavy with these personalities, you can’t imagine how much heavier I was when I was the GBC before Prabhupada’s disappearance.
When I was temple president in L.A., I used to beat the hell out of people. That’s why I was the king of the heap there. You’d be surprised, but when you’re a guru, you can’t do that. But when you’re also a manager, you do a lot of things to keep people under control to get them to do what has to be done. Again, I’m not trying to excuse anything. I’m just trying to say that these two don’t very well together.
I feel that this realization or this understanding is essential if we’re to avoid further things from happening because, believe me, it’s going to repeat.
It’s just a question of time until things have a little bit faded out and again another incident is going to happen, whether it’s here in L.A. or somewhere else. It’s going to continuously happen until you allow the actual spiritual force of Krsna to be exhibited without restriction. That means when you’re allowed to preach with full force and facility, then we’re going to see you in a totally ecstatic happy way, and we’ll have millions of devotees. Unless that happens, whether it’s you or – if you try to restrict me with managing – if I hadn’t been made guru with my personality the way it is, you can’t even imagine it. I think that’s even why Prabhupada said you can be a ritvik.
My nature is such that I could never stand by. It would be tough, also, it would be very tough. Really, it’s very tough for a lot of people. I may be of one nature and Bhakti Caru is another and so-and-so is another, but in their own way, it’s just as tough for them – and Adi Keshava. It’s ridiculous! The man is more qualified. How do we qualify? But he can’t initiate, Everybody says it. Satsvarupa Maharaja was talking with me on the phone; he says it’s ridiculous. Do you imagine what Adi-Kesha’s abilities and mind is? Superior, as far as I can see. I may have some nice qualities, maybe a little bit more on one side or another. He’s a wonderful, advanced devotee, but he’s frustrated being underneath, whether he admits it or not. He doesn’t like to admit it, naturally, because it looks like something you want. You’re not sure.
You know what he said about Sridhar Swami? He said, when it was told that Hamsadutta Maharaja – Jayapataka read an ultimate point that Hamsadutta Maharaja was praying for Prabhupada’s death. Sridhar Maharaja heard this and he said, “Yes, the same thing was there in my guru-maharaja’s time. There was one disciple who guru-maharaja said was in the same mentality. My guru-maharaja chose to see the bright side. Yes, because he feels checked right now in his preaching determination. He wants to preach for me and for Krsna, and he cannot.” The fact is that whatever we say still Prabhupada named him after this incident to be a ritvik or a guru, according to your interpretation.
In other words, Sridhar didn’t consider that a point. I was with Hamsadutta. He knows perfectly well that everything is on the basis of the guru, You don’t get anywhere without your guru’s mercy. Anybody knows that, If we don’t have that love and faith and trust in him after fourteen years of his being a solid devotee, if he doesn’t know the ABC of Krsna consciousness – I mean this is ridiculous. That’s what’s wrong with me and him.
I’ve been accused of the same thing. “That you tried to kill Prabhupada.”
I can’t live without Prabhupada. If you don’t think that I have that understanding, there’s no possibility of me working with certain men in this movement, and I’m telling you that on the phone, and I’m sure you know. Because that’s the way he thinks. I don’t want to work with him. I can’t work with him! Because I don’t think that about him. He actually thinks that!
People are actually thinking I was against book distribution. I wasn’t against book distribution. I’m against rip-off techniques! That’s my opinion, but that’s what I’m against. But there’s the lack of love and trust on the principles of Vaisnavism that I can understand the point of the guru. After all these years how is it that I could forget the principle of the guru?
Tamal Krishna: The point I want to state on that is this realization, and I feel that the GBC body, if they don’t adopt this point very quickly, if they don’t realize this truth: You can’t show me anything on tape or in writing where Prabhupada says, “I appoint these 11 as gurus.” It doesn’t exist because he never appointed any gurus. This is a myth. Everyone is qualified to right now give initiation and you’ll see no blood and pus will fall out of the sky, no thunderbolt will strike you dead.
Bhakti Caru had people who were wanting to get initiated by him and they don’t want to be initiated by someone else, and they had to get initiated by someone else, and it was a great, great mistake because they had reposed their faith on someone. That man is qualified! He will not fall! I have faith he won’t fall into maya. Okay, anyone may, but I have as much faith in him as I have in myself. Yet, we have this ridiculous thing, “Wait till Mayapur and we will vote. We probably will be taking on another two this year.” What is that?! You’ve already been taking on by getting initiated by Prabhupada. That is your right. The day you got initiated you get the right to become a father when your father disappears, if you’re qualified. No appointment. It doesn’t require an appointment because there isn’t one.
Devotee: So what should be the system then for establishing the parampara? Actually, I was listening to your description and my only question is okay if all this is right, then what should be the…?
Tamal Krsna Goswami: First of all, let’s understand that we’re now going to discuss the details of it. I don’t mind discussing because it’s practical.
Dhira-Krsna Swami: Will you finish before you…?
Tamal Krsna Goswami: My point is that this is the principle. Your point is very important. We should work out the details. Let’s, first of all, discuss the principle of whether this point about appointment is genuine or not.
Devotee: I’d like to say one thing because I didn’t hear the tapes, but I saw the transcripts of the conversations with Srila Prabhupada, and one thing that actually convinced me that there was no appointment because when it got to the point that you asked Srila Prabhupada, “Well, what about India?” and Srila Prabhupada said, “I am here.” So it was apparent that Srila Prabhupada wasn’t speaking of the future because when you asked him, “What about India?” Srila Prabhupada said, “I am here.”
Tamal Krsna Goswami: Exactly.
Kirtiraja: Can I ask Dhira Krsna’s opinion about what Tamal Krsna Maharaja just said because you’ve been reading and studying?
Tamal Krsna Goswami: There’s one thing I have to say is that in this discussion there should be no fear of repercussions. I have no fear of anything and that’s why I can say anything because everything that could have happened has happened.
Dhira-Krsna Swami: Anyone can knock on my door day or night and find out what I think.
Tamal Krsna Goswami Right, so we should speak now with the thought that, “Well, if so-and-so finds out what I’ve said, I’m getting….” That’s not right. We should be totally open.
Devotee: One thing in regards to this point about the GBC and its function in the Movement. I think an example of the strangling effect might be there is that so many of our Godbrothers have practically not verbatim, but in principle, said the same thing you’ve just said – devotees like Naranarayana, Uttamasloka. There’s a lot of them in L.A. They’re not actively engaged in …
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Original story URL: http://www.vnn.org/world/WD9901/WD27-2917.html
COMMENT: So here Tamal admits that there never was an appointment of regular gurus; Srila Prabhupada only appointed rtviks. However, he assumes that after Srila Prabhupada left, that it was “only natural” for those eleven rtviks and then more that would be added later, to become regular gurus, even though Srila Prabhupada never instructed such a thing.
Although there was no appointment of anything but rtviks, at Topanga Canyon Tamal thinks that regular gurus can be self-appointed. Of course, his future statements and writings contradict this thesis and themselves in a maze of confusing mumbo-jumbo. Perhaps it is like the politicians do: say all kinds of contradictory things, and refer to the ones that apply as needed. However, honest devotees don’t fall for this stuff.