Will It Lead to Guru Groupism?

ASK BVKS | September 27, 2011 |

English;

Question:

When the disciples hear some criticism (about another sannyasi), from their spiritual master (especially in a lecture), it may happen that they also develop a critical attitude towards that sannyasi and speak things like “this sannyasi is like this, that sannyasi is like that etc…). Do you think this may promote the ongoing guru groupism even more as the devotees will start thinking that my guru is the best and the rest have faults?

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Question:

Is there only one way to follow Srila Prabhupada?

ANSWER by HH Bhakti Vikasa Swami: 

Sridham Shyam Prabhu wrote an article which brought my attention to, in which he states that, as he understands, there are not many ways of following Śrīla Prabhupāda but there is one way to follow.

Now...in one sense it’s true. The proper way to follow Śrīla Prabhupāda is with all sincerity aspiring for pure devotional service, and following his instructions. On the other hand there is no stereotype, and Śrīla Prabhupāda gave different instructions to different devotees.

Sometimes on the same subject. For instance within his books, and repeatedly elsewhere, Śrīla Prabhupāda said that sannyāsi should be very strict in the matter of associating with women, which anyone in India up to the present day can understand, unless they are a follower of Osho, who are not much liked by Indian public.

Up to the present day the Indian public don’t like. They don’t mind to be cheated by swamis and sannyāsis, and spiritually, but they don’t like if they mix up with women...up to the present day. This Asaram Bapu Swami was finished not because of the murder cases in his āśram, but it came out about his womanizing. He is not actually a sannyāsi, but he is a holly man (supposed to be) and his illicit mixing with women is not at all appreciated. In South India this Paramahaṁsa Nityānanda was finished when it came about his womanizing, which in the West no one cares at all, but in India...

I’m just coming to the point now...

EXAMPLES
There is one Back to Godhead magazine published in Śrīla Prabhupāda’s presence, in which Sudama Swami...On the order of Śrīla Prabhupāda he led up the Vaikuṇṭha players, a drama troupe which had dance, and which was very much appreciated by Śrīla Prabhupāda, giving the teachings of Kṛṣṇa consciousness in drama form. And in that group there were women, which Śrīla Prabhupāda allow, but did not want in India. But, in the West he allowed it. Different culture. Sudama said to Śrīla Prabhupāda:“...all these women dancing...“, and Śrīla Prabhupāda said „That is your sannyās!“.

It’s right there in Back to Godhead magazine, so, he gave different...
Also, in two days in Vṛndāvan, to one sannyāsi Śrīla Prabhupāda told: „You leave Vṛndāvan! Don’t spend more than three days at any place. Sannyāsi should always be moving.“ The next day, to another sannyāsi he said: „Stay here, manage this project and never leave!“ So, to one he said „Sannyāsi always travels“, and to the other one sannyāsi „Stay here!“.

DIFFERENT EMPHASIS IN DEVOTIONAL SERVICE
So, there may be apparent contradictions. It’s not actually a contradiction, it’s specialized instruction according to service. So, one way to follow...Yes, we should know Śrīla Prabhupāda’s instructions and follow them, but we should know there is variety within that also. And, we see very exalted followers of Śrīla Prabhupāda who were...they are quite different in their emphasis in devotional service.
Two of most prominent preachers of Kṛṣṇa consciousness in the modern world, Śrīla Prabhupāda’s disciples in the Western world, one is Vaisesika Dasa Prabhu who is a grihasta. Well, he is well known, of course. He very much promotes the distribution of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s books. That’s his main focus.
Indradyumna Swami has been a sannyāsi for many years and he also promotes book distribution but within the ambit of his festive programs, which are his main preaching. Doing festivals with hāriṇams, and dances, lots of kīrtan and whole package.
So, their approach, or their life focus in Śrīla Prabhupāda’s service is very different. They are not doing exactly the same thing, but they are both undoubtedly pleasant to Śrīla Prabhupāda, and following him very much.

CONCLUSION
So, one way to follow Śrīla Prabhupāda...In one sense yes, but there may be others, there have to be, actually specializations. Different devotees have different approaches. So, what is the correct stand on this issue? 
I prefer not to take milk from „blood cows“, or sometimes devotees call it „blood milk“ because the cows are killed, but I’m not on a campaign against devotees who take that, because Śrīla Prabhupāda’s said we could take it. On the other hand, he also said we should establish our own farm communities.
So, that should be bonum.

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In the western part of India, especially Maharashtra, there are many saints (I am not sure if this is what peoplel are supposed to call them) like Swami Samartha, Sant Dnyāneshwar, and Giriraj Maharaja whose followers are mostly simple and poor villagers. HG Caitanya Charan Prabhu mentioned in www.thespiritualscientist.com that devotees are supposed to respect them and glorify them for whatever bhakti they are doing, although they are using chanting or glorification of the Lord as a tool to gain followers and ultimately make them Mayavadis.

But the problem in practical application is that if we respect them then they will think that we are approving of their activities. For example most of their followers are vegetarian but they feel  that tea does not break their fast on Ekadashi, so they consume tea on their fasting days also.

Are these Maharaja's with their sampradaya's bona fide? If yes then which Sampradaya do they belong to?

In most rural parts of Maharashtra we don't have ISKCON centers, But we do have maths of the above mentioned personalities, so what should be our attitude towards the followers of the above mentioned personalities?

And what should be our approach to bring them to Krishna Consciousness as we don't have any ISKCON centers here? What are the do’s and don't we should follow to bring them to the service of Srila Prabhupada, or if not that then at least a bona fide Guru Parampara?

Can we or do we have a website or any such means where it is clearly stated that XYZ math or Sampradaya is bona fide or not bona fide, so at least we don't offend the ones who are outside of ISKCON and belong to a bona fide sampradaya and do not promote (by respecting them) the bogus so called spiritualist?

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