Reply to Damaghosa

17.11.99 - Thank you for your letter. I have been traveling so I have only seen it very recently. At least you have communicated your concerns to me directly now, rather than complaining to others. So maybe I can take this opportunity to respond to your expressed concerns.

"I wanted to thank you again for all the work you have done on behalf of Srila Prabhupada and your continuing success in India against the corrupt GBC."

Thank you. Please note that this success has been possible because of organisation and co-operation. Working on my own I could not have achieved anything.

"Unfortunately, many of us Prabhupadanugas here in the USA do not share your insights in your new "system" for organisation."

First there is nothing 'new' here, nor are they 'my' insights, nor is it 'my' system:

  1. Srila Prabhupada states that any endeavour needs 'organisation' for success. So we have organised.
  2. As for the 'form' of the organisation we have simply copied Srila Prabhupada's system - which was to start with a Tp's body initially which will then, in time, form a GBC - he did this from 1966 to 1970.
    Since we are trying to have a proper GBC, it only made sense to follow Srila Prabhupada's system:

"I beg to acknowledge receipt of your letter dated October 12, 1969 along with the copy of the West Coast president's report of the meeting held at Berkeley. Gradually this meeting should develop into a committee. of the West Coast presidents, and similarly there should be one for the East Coast, so in the future we can form a central governing body for the whole institution."
(Letter to Tamala Krishna, 69-10-18)

So what you have objected to is devotees organising themselves and copying the structure that Srila Prabhupada used to put in place the GBC, for ISKCON. Since we are trying to reform ISKCON to its former glory, surely it is only logical that we should use the same structure and methodology Srila Prabhupada used.

You need to do 3 things for your objection to have any validity:

  1. You need to state WHAT exactly in the 'organisation' you object to; 
  2. WHY you object to it; 
  3. And provide a list of all the persons in the USA who agree with a and b above.

(So far you have given one name only - Yasodanandana Das. Yet neither he nor I know the specifics of your objection as per a and b above. Maybe everyone is disagreeing for entirely different reasons, some of which you yourself would disagree with.)

Otherwise simply saying 'many of us Prabhupadanugas do not agree', does not mean anything. You need to tell us exactly what it is they disagree with and why. The GBC do not agree with our proposals either, but for reasons quite different from you (I assume). Clearly we need to know 'what' you and all these other devotees unanimously disagree with, and then 'why', before anything sensible can result. At least then we can try and address your points and rectify our mistakes. That is known as constructive criticism - as opposed to simply criticising.

"You cannot legislate Bhakti, nor can you command loyalty."
  1. Who is trying to legislate 'bhakti'? Where does it say we are trying to do that?
  2. Are you also objecting to Srila Prabhupada that 'he was trying to legislate bhakti', when he set up the same structure?
  3. We are simply trying to form a proper GBC in the same way Srila Prabhupada did. What do you prefer instead - that we do nothing and leave Hari Vilasa & co in charge with no reformation? Is that what you want?
    Surely not. So why object to us trying to rectify the situation ? 
    If you have a better way, then why not put it in place yourself?
  4. I think you meant to say 'demand loyalty'. 'Commanding loyalty' is the only way to get it.
"You have instituted an organisation called Iskcon revival movement and set yourself up as legislative head-complete with application forms and probably there will be permit fees required no doubt as well as loyalty tests and oaths of allegiance to serve you with love and trust."

The devotees at the meeting, who represent many hundreds more devotees, proposed and seconded me, and then voted for me unanimously.
So its not that I set myself up as an authority. What is it you would have me do?
Refuse to accept the service they have asked me to carry out? And the 'oath of allegiance' required is clearly stated, and involves accepting a structure and Srila Prabhupada's orders, and does not involve serving me with 'love and trust'. Therefore your unpleasant sarcasm would be better directed at the GBC who ARE demanding that you serve THEM with love and trust - or is it that when one is angry, it does not matter who one takes a pot shot at?

"Count me out-- and many of the other Prabhupadanugas here in the USA. I would think they feel the same way (as I have been getting some negative feedback from them from your last email also)."
  1. Our last mail was mainly a report on the court case - what was wrong with that?
  2. Also if, as you claim, people objected to this report, why not write to me directly so I can rectify my mistake. Or have you set yourself up as the head of the 'Adri complaints committee'? If I am making mistakes I cannot do anything if people do not write and tell me.
"Unfortunately you have lost the pulse here in America and other places as well. I could give you many details-but here is two for starters. Yasodanandan prabhu told me personally he was very much offended that you did not contact him while you were doing your preaching in Los Angeles-and he lives only two blocks away from the temple."

How can not contacting one person be evidence that I have lost the 'pulse' for the whole of the USA and other countries? Please give me the details you say you have - since this does not throw light on the situation. When I was in LA I had to see over a dozen people in just a few days, and not all of it was to do with ritvik. There will always be people I do not get to - I tend to concentrate whatever little time I have on those who need it - not on 'preaching to the converted'. I would like to see everyone - but with limited time I try and spend it with those who need to hear about Srila Prabhupada's position - in this respect there is nothing I could possibly contribute to Yasodanandana. I had come for a specific reason - to try and 'convert' some strategic targets. Whatever the rights and wrongs of who I chose to preach to - this is NOT evidence that the IRM structure is wrong - which is your point. That is what you need to show - and simply relating who I did not visit, will not provide this. All it will show is that whenever I travel I concentrate on preaching to those who I feel most need the preaching - which is pretty logical when you think about it!

"And the other is you ignored me here also in Seattle while you were with your "friend" Mr Harivilas das preaching to him."

See the above. I did not 'ignore' you - I only had 1 day - and I decided that I needed to spend it preaching to a member of the GBC - what is wrong with that? I have to apologise for the fact that I spend all my time preaching to those who need it at the expense of those who are probably even more fixed up than me? Well that's my mission and my service. And THIS is evidence that the IRM is 'off' - because I did not have time to visit you! It seems this is not about any valid objection to what we are trying to do, but simply about a personal slight that you felt - something which could have been resolved if you had actually taken it up with me instead of complaining to others. I am very sorry if you felt slighted, this was not my intention at all.

It is significant that the only 'evidence' you can come up with is the fact that I spend all my time preaching to those who are still confused about the ritvik issue. And THIS is my big crime. Maybe its because I spend my time preaching to such confused devotees that Krishna is giving us some small success. Have you though of that?

"Just a couple of days ago was Govardhana puja and we had here a packed house of devotees-more than came for Janmastami, and most of them are refugees from Harivilas's temple. They have come here because they like it here-because there is no politics here, there is no garbage katha here, and there is no bogus gurus being worshipped here."

All the more reason for me to preach to Hari Vilasa - you have just contradicted your own objection here - if Hari Vilasa is as bad as you say he is then you should be happy that I went to Seattle to try and preach to him - not upset! Where is your compassion for those less fortunate than yourself?

"But you still don't understand why this place is more valuable than Harivilas's place."

When a man leaves his house to fight on the battlefield that doesn't mean he values the battlefield more than his house. This is absurd.
The fact that I went to Hari Vilasa to preach to him - does not mean I value his 'place' more than 'yours' - it means I value getting him on 'board', for the very reasons you yourself have given. I am afraid your thinking is confused. You are mixing up not getting personal 'attention' with the importance of the mission. Next you will be telling me the fact that I went to Mayapur meetings to present to the GBC means I value the GBC more than everyone else.

 "And the reason is because you think more in terms of dollars and cents, buildings and bricks ,and not in terms of Krsnas devotees who are the life and soul of this great movement."
  1. Are you really that confused that you think everyone except yourself is the GBC. Because this is what you seem to be saying above?
  2. How do you know what I 'think'. Are you supersoul? Do you have any evidence for the above?
  3. So anyone who goes to preach to the GBC is a materialist, but only if they visit your house are they concerned about devotees? This seems quite arrogant if you don't mind me saying.
  4. If I was only concerned about dollars and cents and brick and buildings - why would I risk it all to take the GBC to court and getting myself expelled? Again you are confused.
  5. We are giving shelter to so many devotees. Bangalore can now give shelter to thousands of devotees - whereas before it could not.
"Prabhu, you are a fine devotee, but I think you have forgotten to listen-because so many are listening to you now, so perhaps you do not feel you have to listen anymore."
  1. How can I be a 'fine devotee' if I "think more in terms of dollars and cents, buildings and bricks , and not in terms of Krsnas devotees who are the life and soul of this great movement"?
    This is the opposite of a devotee, what to speak of a 'fine' one.
  2. I am listening to so many people - but I can only listen if they talk.
    You yourself told so many other people before you got around to me that you were upset I did not visit you.
    You are now saying that people who are upset with me are writing to you - but not me! Yasodanandana tells YOU but not me he is upset!!

So how can people not communicating with me be evidence that I do not listen? And this is all the evidence you have offered - that when people have a problem - rather than dealing with and giving the other person an opportunity to rectify, they prefer instead to gossip about it with each other.

On the contrary I am in touch with many people from the USA all the time, and we have had many positive responses to the IRM structure - the irony is that in just 3 days we have had more replies to this article than any other - and yours was the ONLY complaint letter - not a single one from the Guru club followers who form the majority of our 2000 plus readers. We have had many positive responses from the USA. 

"The devotees here in America have been to the place called iskcon hell and will never go back there-ever. they know what Prabhupada taught they know how to survive without a "temple" and how to live without some "authority" telling them how to tie their shoes."
  1. Please tell me who is suggesting this. Again you are confused. 
    We propose joining together and co-operating - and you claim that we are asking everyone to go back to the 'hell' called ISKCON.
  2. Every organisation has a committee and a chairperson. Even the south California Nama hatta group has a committee and a chair - are they also guilty?
  3. And there is no authority in IRM telling anyone to tie their shoes - but there has to be an authority in any organisation - otherwise there is no organisation just anarchy - you cannot organise without some structure - this is obvious.

So what is it that you are objecting to? Authority? Me? Organisation? 
Trying to replace the GBC?

So far you have simply given a babble of contradictory and unsubstantiated 'straw man' arguments - and all this because I did not visit you! 

"For you to come out with this proclamation of how you and a few others are going to save the devotee world is viewed by some of us as absurd."
  1. Firstly who is the 'us', and what is the basis ('what ' objections and 'why'.)
  2. We have simply organised - why is that such a big crime - or do you just prefer that we have no plan, no organisation - and do nothing and let the GBC carry on for another 20 years?
  3. We are not trying to 'save' anyone in the sense you imply.
    The fact is that many devotees around the world are preaching the same thing. We propose they work together under some structure instead of AGAINST each other - why is that so bad? Now the structure may not be perfect - in which case point out the mistakes and suggest an improvement - but it will be difficult since we have just copied how Srila Prabhupada did things.
    But don't just throw the baby out with the bath water - you don't like me because I did not visit you therefore the whole IRM is off and we should not organise ourselves to defeat the GBC. At the moment this sort of thinking is what will keep the very persons you claim to detest in power for many more years.
  4. Do you not have organisation when you run a program? Or is that anyone can walk of the street and give class? Or is it that normally you or someone sanctioned by you gives class? See authority and organisation are everywhere.
    It seems the objection is not therefore to authority or organisation per se - but simply OTHER authority and organisation where we are not at the centre. It is this lack of unity and unwillingness to co-operate that will keep the GBC in charge for another 20 years.
"Ever hear the saying "...Of all the plagues with which mankind has been cursed, Ecclesiastical tyranny is the worst!!!" Again, in the name of Prabhupada, someone is going to Lead us "blind followers" out of darkness."

Ever heard the saying: "Fail to plan, and you plan to fail"
And here is another one - 'judge by the fruits'.
We simply give a plan of organisation by which to practically defeat the GBC and restore ISKCON to the way it should be, and you are comparing us to the Spanish Inquisition for goodness sake! Anyone reading your letter would only assume that you are a GBC supporter, since your energy would be better spent attacking them, not others who are trying, however imperfectly, to put in place a PRACTICAL plan to try and reform ISKCON.

Holding programs at your house is a wonderful service, and long may you prosper and continue. But we are specifically interested turning ISKCON around.
I know many devotees think this is impossible, many think we are wasting our time even trying, fair enough, but that is what we are trying to do. Maybe we are crazy for even trying, maybe we will never succeed - who knows? But many of us feel we owe this to our spiritual master, to try and bring the society he established through so much toil and personal sacrifice back in line with his simple and sublime instructions. Not everyone will want to be part of the IRM, that's fine. Different stokes as they say. Preach as you see fit, and we all wish you well. For the particular task we have chosen we require a more tightly run and disciplined organisation, and I fully appreciate that not everyone will want to sign up for that. But I think on reflection you will see the sense in what we are doing - given the particular task we have set ourselves. At least I hope you will, or tell us what specifically we are doing wrong.

Your servant 

Adridharan das