(Year 1994) – As Śrīla Gurudeva’s influence increased in ISKCON, two groups developed among the leaders in the society. There were those who didn’t want ISKCON members to associate with Vaiṣṇavas outside ISKCON and who favored strict adherence to vaidhī-bhakti without discussion of rāga-bhakti. These leaders considered Śrīla Gurudeva’s teachings to have a different emphasis and essence from Śrīla Prabhupāda’s and they felt threatened by his growing prestige in ISKCON. The other group of leaders revered Śrīla Gurudeva as a śikṣā–guru, regularly heard hari-kathā from him, and did not consider him separate from ISKCON, having seen how many times he had served and helped Prabhupāda’s mission. However, the majority did not support Gurudeva’s teachings on jīva-tattva and rāga-bhakti.
Despite hearing Śrīla Gurudeva’s cogent reasoning’s on jīva-tattva and his presentation of the evidence in śāstra for the jīva coming from taṭastha-śakti, many ISKCON leaders remained adamant otherwise. The GBC majority was convinced that the jīva fell from Vaikuṇṭha into material existence, and they planned to pass a resolution in the 1995 Gaura-pūrṇimā annual meetings to that effect. The GBC majority threatened the faction who favored Gurudeva with expulsion from ISKCON unless they severed ties with him, or convinced him to officially become an ISKCON member, to accept their doctrine on jīva-tattva, and to preach with their style—with an emphasis on vaidhī-bhakti and book distribution, which they thought he belittled.
The ISKCON leaders who accepted Śrīla Gurudeva as their śikṣā–guru and had great affection for him hoped to persuade him to accept official ISKCON doctrine and to take part in their mission. They saw Śrīla Gurudeva’s potential, with his inspirational personality and hari-kathā, to rejuvenate and bring new life into an ISKCON tainted with multiple controversies, if he openly preached as a member of ISKCON. Therefore, in the ring of 1994, senior ISKCON sannyāsīs came to Śrīla Gurudeva with a proposition they had formed as a compromise with fellow GBC members.
“Mahārāja, please join ISKCON and begin preaching around the world under ISKCON auspices. The GBC board invites you to preach in the West. There are a few GBC conditions you must abide by, but that aside, we will take you everywhere—to England, to America—all over the world. In the West you will have opulent facilities. However, you have to proclaim that the jīva fell from Vaikuṇṭha, not otherwise, and you must always refer to Śrīla Prabhupāda as Śrīla Prabhupāda, not Śrīla Svāmī Mahārāja or Svāmījī. Besides that, you’ll have to comply with some other formalities and preaching standards. If you accept, then we will make you an ācārya of ISKCON.”
Hearing this, Śrīla Gurudeva became very stern and immediately countered, “No! I will never speak against the siddhānta I have heard from my Gurudeva, and śiksa-guru, Śrīla Svāmī Mahārāja. I will never stop speaking the truth. If you do not like it then there is no need for you to come and hear.”
Don’t think that I am greedy to go to the West. You think you are going to show me opulence? The opulence of the entire cosmic creation cannot compare to a particle of dust in Vraja! After a girl is married she refers to her husband as her husband. Other ladies will not refer to that man as their husband. When you call your Gurudeva Śrīla Prabhupāda that is appropriate for you, but I cannot do so.”
Those who favored Śrīla Gurudeva regretfully gave this report to the GBC board. Shortly after, they were compelled to agree to an undertaking that they would not regularly visit Gurudeva; engage in systematic study under him; publicly display affection for him; or display and disseminate tapes or transcripts of his. As the undertaking did not explicitly state they could not associate with Gurudeva, hear his hari-kathā, or read his books, the GBC sannyāsīs and ISKCON members thus admonished continued to affectionately regard Gurudeva as their śikṣā–guru and to surrepitiously meet with him.
Every year since the disappearance of Śrīla Prabhupāda, Śrīla Gurudeva had been cordially invited by ISKCON to speak at the Kṛṣṇa-Balarāma temple in Vṛndāvana for Baladeva-pūrṇimā. Disgruntled with Śrīla Gurudeva’s unwillingness to cooperate, in the summer of 1994 the GBC board did not invite Gurudeva to Kṛṣṇa-Balarāma for Baladeva-pūrṇimā. On Baladeva’s appearance day, Gurudeva waited expectantly at Rūpa-Sanātana Gauḍīya Maṭha, but when no representative from ISKCON came to invite and escort him, he finally returned to Mathurā. There, Śrīla Gurudeva received a threatening letter from one ISKCON member, warning him not to come to the Kṛṣṇa-Balarāma temple. Śrīla Gurudeva did not take offense, but some of his western followers from ISKCON did and they spoke out. It is said that although the mahā-bhāgavata does not take offense when insulted, the dust of his lotus feet, or his followers, do. Gurudeva’s followers were disconcerted and baffled at ISKCON’s action, after Gurudeva had repeatedly helped ISKCON and its members for decades.
On Viśvarūpa Mahotsava a month later, on September 14, 1994, being thus sanctioned by the GBC in the annual spring meeting in Māyāpura, ISKCON devotees attended in Keśavajī Gauḍīya Maṭha the festal commemorating the day Śrīla Prabhupāda took sannyāsa from Śrīla Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja. Tamāl Kṛṣṇa Mahārāja, Girirāja Svāmī, and other GBC men spoke on the invitation of Śrīla Gurudeva. They attempted to placate Śrīla Gurudeva’s followers with kind words, hoping to mitigate the offense.
Śrīla Gurudeva asked Tamāl Kṛṣṇa Mahārāja first to speak. In his speech, Tamāl Kṛṣṇa Mahārāja focused on the last instruction of Śrīla Prabhupāda to his disciples, which was to cooperate with all Vaiṣṇavas and especially the Gauḍīya Maṭha, and he spoke about the connection between Śrīla Svāmī Prabhupāda, Śrīla Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja, and Śrīla Gurudeva. He then said he felt that Svāmī Prabhupāda was now teaching them through Śrīla Gurudeva and said, “I think we should not so much be concerned about the names of the institutions, but we should see what is the fruit on the tree. If the fruit tastes the same, then the tree must be one tree. We should not worry if it is this branch or that branch, but we should see what is the taste of the fruit. So, whatever I experienced in my association with Śrīla Prabhupāda, I am experiencing that same taste today when I come here, when I sit in this assembly, and whenever I get good association of Śrīla Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja, I find the same taste of the fruits. Therefore, I know that the tree is one, and I don’t concern myself with the external names of societies—to be worried that this is one institution or that is another institution.”
Tamāl Kṛṣṇa Mahārāja concluded his speech, “I pray that all the devotees who are assembled here and all the members of ISKCON should try to broaden their vision and actually to embrace the mood of real Kṛṣṇa consciousness, and to see who Kṛṣṇa consciousness is reposed in, and to embrace that person as being most dear.
Pray our movement will actually flourish Otherwise, we are not going to be very much better than the Christians and the various other sects who divide the world and are against different groups simply because they don’t belong to the same organization. We should never allow that type of hatred or envy or malice to block our bhakti.”
Śrīla Gurudeva next asked Girirāja Svāmi to speak. Hesp spoke about an incident where he felt the same atmosphere and mood with Srila Gurudeva as when he was with Srila Prabhupāda. He felt that the only explanation was that Srila Prabhupāda and Srila Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja are the same. He said, “Although they are different individuals with distinct personalities, still they are the same. And therefore, the mood is the same in the presence of both.”
Girirāja Svāmī then said, “Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja is certainly working to help complete the mission of our Śrīla Prabhupāda. And he works tirelessly. One devotee commented that he thought that Śrīla Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja spent more hours preaching and serving ISKCON than practically any sannyāsī in ISKCON, which highlights the point that the name of the institution is not really what matters. What matters is the heart. And Śrīla Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja’s heart is so much dedicated to the service of Śrīla Prabhupāda, his Guru Mahārāja, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, and the whole paramparā. I don’t think that any words we could speak, or any price we could pay, could begin to. . .to repay. . .what to speak of repay. . .we couldn’t even estimate the service Śrīla Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja is rendering to Śrīla Prabhupāda and Prabhupāda’s disciples.”
Śrīla Gurudeva then spoke himself, glorifying the worldwide preaching of Srila Prabhupāda and the books he composed. He said, “If Prabhupāda had remained for a few more years, he surely would have written commentaries and translations for the Gosvāmīs’ works like Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi.”
Śrīla Gurudeva then asked to be excused by those in ISKCON who were upset by his hari-kathā. He said, “Those who sincerely serve Prabhupāda will one day have the good fortune of understanding what I say. Some want to bind Śrīla Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Mahārāja in their small Western mentality. But their mentality is not out of māyā. They will be so fortunate when they realize why Prabhupāda came to this world, and that he is near and dear to Śrīmatī Rādhikā, and Kṛṣṇa, and Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. He has preached the glories of the holy name, the instructions of Bhagavad-gītā, and made the foundation with vaidhī-bhakti; but this was as a platform for him to later teach about rūpānuga-bhakti.”
Lastly, Śrīla Gurudeva said, “We should cooperate with each other and then we will be able to preach Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s mission to the whole world. I pray to the lotus feet of my Gurudeva and my śiksa guru, my dear friend Svāmījī, that they bestow their sprinkles of mercy to me and to all. I am not so selfish that I will not pray for you all. I am praying for you also, and if there is some mercy left over, then Svāmījī should also give me mercy.”
The speeches of the GBC sannyāsīs and Śrīla Gurudeva at Viśvarūpa Mahotsava were transcribed and distributed in ISKCON Vṛndāvana, causing great rankle among the orthodoxy there, for some of what they said was contrary to GBC policy. When confronted, they said that they had no intention of defying the GBC, but were trying to pacify and reestablish friendly relations, as they were earlier advised to do by the GBC. Following this, inflammatory statements were posted on the GBC online platform, which enhanced misunderstanding among ISKCON members.
Citing the 1982 GBC resolution that ISKCON members were not to associate with Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas outside ISKCON (which had been put in place to quell the influence of Śrīla Bhakti Rakṣaka Śrīdhara Mahārāja), one GBC member called for a vote to expel the speakers at Viśvarūpa Mahotsava, saying, “Come on, GBC men, should they resign?” Thereafter, the GBC majority elected a committee to write a paper with various points. A meeting was scheduled for November to discuss about Śrīla Gurudeva with the faction that supported him, specifically the members who had spoken on his behalf.
The meeting was documented and later posted on VNN, the Vaiṣṇava News Network, whence the following extras of the fifty-page transcription are presented.
On November 5, 1994, the GBC chairman, Śrī Lokanātha Mahārāja, presided at a committee of senior devotees consisting of Rādhānātha Svāmī, Indradyumna Svāmī, Bhak Vidyā Pūrṇa Svāmī, Bhakti Caitanya Svāmī, Kṛṣṇa Kṣetra Prabhu, and Pañcarātra Prabhu, to clarify some of the basic issues regarding senior ISKCON leaders vising Śrīla Gurudeva. Before the meeting, the committee interviewed concerned persons in Vṛndāvana, and thereafter presented a written compilation of their concerns to Tamāl Kṛṣṇa Mahārāja, Girirāja Svāmī, Dhanurdhara Svāmī, and Bhūrijana Prabhu. Extras of
the following conversation represents these devotees’ responses to the various points of concern in the document.
The first point the committee brought up was the question of acceptance of spiritual authority outside of ISKCON. When this was read out, Girirāja Svāmī replied, “I already disagree with the statement, ‘acceptance of spiritual authority outside of ISKCON.’
I believe that the term outside of ISKCON is too vague to be workable. We are coming in a paramparā that in one sense begins wh Caanya Mahāprabhu, goes through Rūpa Gosvāmī, Jīva Gosvāmī, and others. Now, are they in ISKCON? I think in the intuitional sense in which we apply the definition, meaning under the GBC body, they’re not in ISKCON. But does it mean that because they’re not in ISKCON, taking any instruction from them outside of Prabhupāda’s books is taking śikṣā from outside ISKCON? And that taking such śikṣā from outside ISKCON minimizes ISKCON’s position or the value of what Prabhupāda gave us? This term ‘outside ISKCON’ has been emotionalized and politicized.”
“And equated with disloyal to Prabhupāda,” Bhūrijana Prabhu said.
“Their definition of outside of ISKCON,” Pañcarātra Prabhu said, “means outside of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s personal disciplic line, in other words, going backwards and forwards, his gurus and disciples.”
“I feel that those are false distinctions,” Girirāja Svāmī said.
“Then you can speak on that also,” Pañcarātra Prabhu said.
“Our line is not based exclusively on dīkṣā,” Girirāja Svāmī said. “In fact, our line specifically is based on śikṣā. So, if someone who is not directly an initiated disciple of Śrīla Prabhupāda has accepted the same conclusions of the paramparā, he’s not outside of our line or outside of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s line. If the most basic premises in the controversy are addressed first—like the false duality about inside ISKCON and outside ISKCON—then all the detailed discussion becomes unnecessary. All these hysterical concerns rest on the basic idea that there’s a fault in going outside ISKCON for spiritual instruction. It just doesn’t consider the fact that Caitanya Mahāprabhu, Rūpa Gosvāmī, Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura, Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, are not in ISKCON.”
“And Prabhupāda before 1966,” Bhūrijana Prabhu said.
“Others would disagree, that they are in ISKCON,” Pañcarātra Prabhu said.
“Great,” Girirāja Svāmī said, “if they are in ISKCON, then someone representing them, repeating their instructions with reference to their books, is also in ISKCON, as much as Rūpa Gosvāmī is. This distinction is false. Caitanya Mahāprabhu and the previous ācāryas aren’t in ISKCON in the sense that they’re not under the GBC, but they are our śikṣā-gurus. And if someone can help us to understand what they taught, he can also be accepted as a śikṣā–guru. And as valid as Rūpa Gosvāmī’s teachings are, the teachings of someone who explains Rūpa Gosvāmī’s teachings would be similarly valid.”
“Would you say,” Pañcarātra Prabhu asked, “that if one avoided inmate association with devotees like Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja because of institutional considerations, one would be blocking his advancement?”
“We all feel,” Bhūrijana Prabhu responded, “that would be unfortunate if such a condition was forced upon a devotee. It would be also against an instruction Prabhupāda gave direly to Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja, (to guide his disciples), and against the best interest of ISKCON. Not to mention against siddhānta.”
Responding to a later point raised by the committee, which stated that if ISKCON devotees were allowed to see Śrīla Gurudeva, then should the GBC broadly sanction association with any and all Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas, Tamāl Kṛṣṇa Mahārāja said, “Well, there’s a mistake here. It says that we feel it is needed to open the door for all devotees to receive instruction from any qualified, bona fide member of the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava-sampradāya. I don’t agree with that. Why? Because some of the bona fide, loyal members of the Gauḍīya-sampradāya are not loyal to Śrīla Prabhupāda and ISKCON. And one of the specific things which we tested and have seen again and again is that this particular sādhu, Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja, is very loyal to Śrīla Prabhupāda and ISKCON. That’s probably the reason why we did not hesitate to continue vising him whereas we might have in other cases. In other words, we saw continuous proof that this person was loyal to our guru and institution. And that helped us increase our faith.”
“Are you in the mood that you are surrendering to Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja?” Rādhānātha Svāmī asked. “In other words, do you serve his instructions or just receive knowledge from him? Are you approaching Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja to surrender to him or do you feel that by approaching him he helps you in your surrender to Prabhupāda?”
“You should get the definition of śikṣā–guru,” Tamāl Kṛṣṇa Mahārāja sarcastically said. “I find myself getting even closer to Prabhupāda with his help. I am surrendered to Prabhupāda, and he’s helping me.”
“The spiritual master doesn’t say surrender to me,” Bhūrijana Prabhu said, “he says surrender to Kṛṣṇa. He is Kṛṣṇa’s representative. The dīkṣā-guru and śikṣā–guru are Kṛṣṇa’s representatives. And naturally, as one surrenders to Kṛṣṇa, one’s appreciation of Prabhupāda grows more because his realization of Prabhupāda’s gift increases as the depth of his realization increases.”
“That’s a better answer,” Tamāl Kṛṣṇa Mahārāja said.
The committee asked then how a disciple could have love and dedication for Śrīla Prabhupāda as well as feeling affection for another Vaiṣṇava. Bhūrijana Prabhu responded, “This question is irksome because of the way it’s put. If we love our father, can we also love our elder brother? As if by serving or having affection for our uncle or older brother, which is really how I look at Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja, our affection for our father is hindered. Because Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja’s instructions increase our Kṛṣṇa consciousness, his instructions naturally also increase our love for Prabhupāda. It’s irksome when it appears that there is inherently a disloyal or duality or contradiction. The Caitanya-caritāmṛta doesn’t explain śikṣā and dīkṣā-guru in a competetitive way.”
“Thank you,” Tamāl Kṛṣṇa Mahārāja said. “This question is unfair, and it practically implies that you can only love your father and can’t love your brothers or anyone else. We should see the individual member of the Gauḍīya Maṭha’s relation or position or mood towards Prabhupāda, ISKCON, s leaders etc. That’s how Prabhupāda based his statements, and that’s what we should do. And it’s not an open declaration of war against everyone in the whole Gauḍīya institution for the next 10,000 years—until at last they join ISKCON.”
Responding to a later point, Tamāl Kṛṣṇa Mahārāja said, “The same problem comes again. The last line here says, ‘maintain Śrīla Prabhupāda as the exclusive source of spiritual authority, directly and through his disciples.’ May I know what happened to scripture and sādhu? We are now throwing out the most fundamental principle that Prabhupāda taught—guru, sādhu, and śāstra. Now there’s only guru. Or is it that Prabhupāda’s disciples are the only sādhus? And no mention of scripture. Is this dangerous or not?”
“Sādhu is anywhere,” Lokanātha Svāmī said. “Sādhu means a saintly person.”
“No,” Tamāl Kṛṣṇa Mahārāja said, “ It means a saintly person in ISKCON. There’s a new definition now.” In regard to other points raised, he continued, “Because Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja is more advanced than us, he’s more aware of the necessity of us maintaining faith in Prabhupāda, so he will never say anything different. For anything that could appear different, he says, ‘What does your Guru Mahārāja teach on this point?’ Before he even opens his mouth on —‘What does your Guru Mahārāja teach?’ Because he cannot contradict the guru. In his mind, Prabhupāda is our guru. It’s very, very clear in his mind, and it’s clear in our mind. But the issue is our vising Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja. Is there a similarity between Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja and the bābājīs at Rādhā-kuṇḍa? It would be interesting for the ISKCON devotees to make an examination of Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja’s views about the Rādhā-kuṇḍa bābājīs. I don’t think it would be possible to find anyone in ISKCON who has such a critical view of the bābājīs at Rādhā-kuṇḍa as Nārāyaṇa Mahārāja. More than anyone in ISKCON, he is capable of defeating the bābājīs.”
“Yes,” Bhūrijana Prabhu said, “that’s specifically why I started going to him. So many philosophies float around Vṛndāvana because we are surrounded by bābājīs. So, I started going in order to ask him about the bhakti-siddhānta of Bhaksiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura’s line. And now it is such a great loss. I cannot do that. It’s truly a great loss. And not only on bābājī issues. When Mahārāja leaves there’s not going to be anybody left. And if you want to see apasampradāya (pseudo-Vaiṣṇavism) enter, you’ll see it enter then. Because few will be here to deter and defend. And I’m not encouraged to question him anymore. A great loss.”
The morning session of the meeting broke at midday and continued in the afternoon. After some points were discussed, Jadurānī dāsī, Kartā dāsī, and Vinod-yāni dāsī, three of the lady ISKCON members who regularly vised Śrīla Gurudeva and accepted him as their śikṣā–guru, entered the meeting and were asked to speak. The committee questioned why Śrīla Gurudeva had gen nicknames to Śrīla Prabhupāda disciples and why the disciples had accepted them, considering this disloyal and disregard. Jadurānī dāsī responded, “You all know I did the painting of Rādhā-Śyāmasundara. Sometimes people give nicknames to others on the basis of something done. In relation to the painting, he (Gurudeva) gave me a name because I was serving Rādhā-Śyāmasundara or Radhā-Śyāma. Rādhārānī is Śyāmarānī, the beloved of Kṛṣṇa. So, that service got me the nickname. Most of the times he calls me Jadurānī and sometimes he calls me Śyāmarānī. Prabhupāda also had a nickname for me, which was Sādhurānī. Prabhupāda told me, back in the late sixties, at 26 2nd Avenue, that ‘So many of my godbrothers nicknamed each other different names.’ It’s quite common. So, it is not unstandard.”
After a discussion on this topic, the talk turned back to the focal points of śikṣs–guru and whether or not ISKCON members should be allowed to associate with Vaiṣṇavas who do not function under GBC authority. Tamāl Kṛṣṇa Mahārāja expressed his concerns about the mentality of some on the GBC. He said, “Listen to this quote from Bhak-ticaru Mahārāja. Listen to this, ‘However, when our duty is to police the Society we cannot be worried about offending others. For the sake of a greater cause we have to be prepared to take some risk.’ ”
Pañcarātra Prabhu brought up the concern that if Śrīla Gurudeva was publicly banned from ISKCON, and members banned from seeing him, then he may start his own widespread preaching and, rather than attracting a few dozen ISKCON members and some Westerners, who he generally sent to ISKCON, hundreds and hundreds might flock to him.
Girirāja Svāmī posed that the GBC should neither certify nor condemn association with Śrīla Gurudeva, but just to leave it to the individual. He suggested that Śrīla Gurudeva was not in any way an ISKCON threat. He pointed out that during the zonal ācārya days, the use of force created so many problems. He said, “Just take off the artificial restrictions. You don’t have to make any statements or judgement.”
The real issue is śikṣāaguru,” Tamāl Kṛṣṇa Mahārāja said, “just like the real issue in the mid-80s was the zonal ācāryas and the solution was to expand the number of gurus.” He called the senior disciples of Śrīla Prabhupāda to stand and speak for what was right, even if they had to override legislature, as they had done to stop the zonal ācāryas system. Understanding the proceedings would be documented and read by senior ISKCON members, he said, “You all can’t remain neutral. Sooner or later you have to speak up. Fifty men spoke up and they righted the wrongs in our movement. You have to see that a great wrong is being done here and, whether popular or not, finally you have to speak up and say, ‘Enough of this. This is nonsense.’ Otherwise looks like a vendetta: one group of GBC over another. It’s got to be neutral people who are not GBC men to finally clear the way out. If there is a large group of non-GBC men who become fully convinced, especially senior devotees, everything will come clear.”
Despite the śāstric and logical arguments presented by the GBC sannyāsīs favoring a more liberal connection with Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas outside of ISKCON, and specifically in relation with Śrīla Gurudeva, in the ring of 1995, at the annual Māyāpura GBC meeting, the GBC board voted on and legislated the following resolutions, among others:
1.A: In obedience to the instruction of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Prabhupāda, the GBC directs that the members of ISKCON should respect all senior Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas outside ISKCON, but should not intimately associate with them, personally or through printed or recorded media, for guidance, teaching, instruction, or initiation as their presentation of Kṛṣṇa consciousness often differs from that of Śrīla Prabhupāda in emphasis, balance and other aspects of both teaching and practice.
To legally protect themselves, the resolutions did not directly mention Śrīla Gurudeva, but effectively banned anyone in ISKCON from associating with him or his teachings. Further clauses in the resolutions instructed temple presidents and leaders to strictly enforce this decree. Meanwhile, GBC men privately ordered subordinates to a forcefully with recalcitrants. Much later, the GBC executors who championed the resolutions dealing with Gurudeva regretted their deed and said they wished they had spoken more with Śrīla Gurudeva before acting. Subsequently, agitation between ISKCON orthodoxy and Gurudeva’s dedicated followers increased because of miscommunication.
In the 1995 meetings, the GBC also voted on whether or not the jīva fell from the spiritual world. With eighteen votes in favor of the jīva falling from Vaikuṇṭha, the resolution was passed to the effect that: “The living entity resided originally with the Lord in the spiritual world, but fell down into the material world because of misusing his independence, wanting to enjoy separately from the Lord.” ISKCON devotees were prohibited from presenting or publishing in any media form any contrary view. The GBC cited a passage in Śrīla Prabhupāda’s letters, where, when asked about this apparent contradiction of the living entities origin, Śrīla Prabhupāda advised that time should not be wasted on logical arguments about what was beyond material perception, but rather to focus on our present circumstances and effort to spiritually advance. Śrīla Prabhupāda said in a letter to Madhudviṣa in 1972, “At the present moment we are in māyā’s clutches, so at present our only hope is to become Kṛṣṇa conscious and go back to Home, back to Godhead. The real position is servant of Kṛṣṇa, and servant of Kṛṣṇa means in kṛṣṇa-līlā. Directly or indirectly, always we are serving Kṛṣṇa’s līlā.”
On threat of expulsion if they did not fall in line, and unwilling to forsake their disciple’s and all involvement with ISKCON, the GBC men who saw Śrīla Gurudeva as their śikṣā–guru buckled under coercion and severed their connection with him. Secretly, they continued to study Śrīla Gurudeva’s books.
During the last permitted visit to Śrīla Gurudeva, they fell weeping at his feet. Śrīla Gurudeva inquired about their status. They faltered through the events of the past few days, alerting him of the situation. Gurudeva consoled their heavy hearts and ensured them that no harm was done.
After seeing them off, Śrīla Gurudeva said to the brahmacārīs with him, “They may not know it, but by doing this they have awoken a lion. I am the son of Paramārādhyatama Guru-pāda-padma, the lion ācārya, and I am also a lion. Now I will go preaching! They think they can ban me? Now I’ll go everywhere. I will read vraja-bhakti to everyone! We will see just how effectively they can stop me.”
Śrīla Gurudeva had become completely resolute. He decided to continue fulfilling the last wish of his śikṣā–guru, Śrīla Prabhupāda. He realized that the time for a sweeping change was rapidly approaching.
Despite severe threats and ultimatums, many ISKCON members continued to regularly visit Śrīla Gurudeva. Indeed, the number of devotees who began seeking out his guardian began to steadily increase. The leaders would ban such devotees from ISKCON temple premises. Longstanding members, who had served for decades, who were disciples of Śrīla Prabhupāda, who had distributed tens of thousands of books, and who had relentlessly performed so many services for ISKCON, were suddenly banned from stepping foot on any ISKCON proper throughout the world. Nonetheless, such devotees found strength in the words of their spiritual master. Their close friends and kin followed their lead. Thus, over the following years there was an exodus of hundreds of ISKCON members to Śrīla Gurudeva. Entire families were excommunicated. In temples like the Bhaktivedānta Manor in England, devotees had strikes over the banning and controversies.
Srila Gurudeva ki Jaya! (excerpted from ” Sri Guru Darshan”, available from: firstname.lastname@example.org