by bhakta Eric Johanson
Return to As-It-Is
“Sacrifice means nothing to be sacrificed. But sacrifice the sense of ‘I am the Lord,’ that’s all. What you have got you can sacrifice? This is simply a bluff, sacrifice. We cannot sacrifice. What we have got we can sacrifice? There is no question of sacrifice, but sacrifice means this doggish mentality that ‘I am Lord, I am God, I am enjoyer.’” Lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam, 2.3.20-21 in Los Angeles on June 17, 1972
The bona fide spiritual master is the personification of the sastras; he is the person bhagavat:
“The word guru means ‘heavy,’ heavy with knowledge. And what is that knowledge? Tad-vijnana. That heaviness is brahma-nistha — attachment to brahman and to Parabrahman, Bhagavan. That is the guru’s qualification. brahmany upasamasrayam.” Teachings of Lord Kapila, Verse Four
Due to this heaviness, devotees were afraid to speak nonsense in the presence of Srila Prabhupada. The pure devotee was able to push aside all inferior conceptions when he spoke. He created instant unity and harmony with the Absolute Truth for all who accepted him – simply by his presence. Although the current situation of chaos and pandemonium is clearly the result of his physical departure, this can be remedied if we are able to return to the standard that he embodied. That standard is our Krishna conscious philosophy, our siddhanta:
“So there is nothing to be said new. Whatever I have to speak, I have spoken in my books. Now you try to understand it and continue your endeavor. Whether I am present or not present, it doesn’t matter.” Arrival Speech on May 17, 1977 in Vrndavana, India
“So there is a necessity for a class of men who will act as the brain of society. That is called brahmana. That is real human society, where there are four classes of men: One acting as brain . . . In the Kali-yuga, there is a scarcity of brahmanas. Brahmana is vairagya. A brahmana is not interested with pounds, shilling, pence, ‘Get money and enjoy.’ That is not the brahmana’s business.” Purport to Parama Karuna
The reason that we have had chaos since the departure of Srila Prabhupada is that the movement has been without a brain. The zonal acarya “pet disciples” were not at all interested in acting under the direction of the society’s brahmanas; mostly, they were contemptuous of them. They took direction from their own ambition and used their power in the GBC to make that the “reality.”
Although Srila Prabhupada made every effort to see that his disciples became learned in the philosophy, his lieutenants turned out not to be similarly inclined. They inevitably succumbed to the pleasures of their big posts (“doggish mentality”) and diverted devotee attention towards their own priorities; these were generally the amassing of results in terms of men and money. Rather than praise and consult the self-controlled scholars, they denigrated them in a manner all too Western. This, of course, further served their ultimate purpose of having no one seen as being above them. During his last years, the movement having become so large, it became very easy to relegate Srila Prabhupada to a mere figurehead who they could exploit to empower their personal fiefdoms. Did he leave so that they could have their desire to imitate him fulfilled? Did he leave in order to force them to get the negative reactions they deserved?
The books, lectures, walks, and recorded conversations have all been compiled; serious devotees are free to study and discuss the contents:
“We are also lawyer, not in the material sense. But we know what is the law of God.” Room Conversation with Monsieur Mesman, Chief of the Law House, on June 11, 1974 in Paris, France
It is not too late – although it is certainly getting very, very late – to resurrect the importance of what Srila Prabhupada taught. We can use our unbiased reason to determine in a threadbare manner what his directions were on practically any topic. Indeed, any real brahmana has been doing that all along. Such brahmanas can collectively discuss these issues and determine the correct way to implement Srila Prabhupada’s desires.
Services that were enjoined by Srila Prabhupada during his manifest presence – such as book distribution, Harinam, and creating a varnashrama society – were just that: Services. It is the indoctrination by the pet disciples and GBC that has caused devotees to think that their new doctrines should replace the siddhanta, but, in actuality, the siddhanta must maintain its prominence.
Just as Srila Prabhupada created instant unity due to his being the personification of the Bhagavatam, the siddhanta (sastra) is the framework within which all authorized services should be conducted; it is the air which all the other activities need to stay relevant. It is the only hope for true cooperation and at least some kind of unity to oppose the madness. This is the real reason the movement has pretty much died since Srila Prabhupada’s departure. We are advocating a return to the original standard and siddhanta; this is what we call a return to As-It-Is.
The death of the movement has meant that real spiritual advancement, both individually and collectively, has pretty much stopped for most devotees. Without a genuine manifest shelter, even the most serious of them have had to confront their material senses without good association. Those who followed the deviant teachings of the GBC or imbibed the offences inherent in the Gaudiya matha have not made any progress; they have degraded. Their original realization has been covered:
yah sastra-vidhim utsrjya
na sa siddhim avapnoti
na sukham na param gatim
”But he who discards scriptural injunctions and acts according to his own whims attains neither perfection, nor happiness, nor the supreme destination.” Bhagavad-gita 16.23
The fanatical wing of the rittvik movement is also guilty of this disregard but has the added feature that no one in it is enjoined to advance to the stage of guru. According to its standard, trying to become a pure devotee, one who is capable of giving diksa, is a rejection of everything it teaches; Prabhupada is the only diksa guru. Some older Prabhupada initiates, who could be acting in an exemplary manner for others’ benefit, instead engage in a lifetime of offences and lies by pushing this kind of rittvik, viciously defaming anyone who disagrees with their apa-siddhanta. Although there are many humble and even learned (to some degree) rittviks, there are too many of them for whom party spirit fanaticism is considered the only “Vaishnava” behavior.
aikantiki harer bhaktir
“Devotional service of the Lord that ignores the authorized Vedic literatures like the Upanisads, Puranas and Narada-pancaratra is simply an unnecessary disturbance in society.” Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, 1.2.101
There are four types of neophyte devotees. They are, in order of degradation or advancement, the sahajiya, the mishra bhakta (ordinary devotee), the sadhana bhakta, and the special devotee who has achieved anartha-nivritti. The sahajiya inevitably believes that he or she is on a far higher level than is actually the case and almost always fault-finds those who are better situated. As the following exchange makes clear, it is not necessary that one have a conscious desire to come under the influence of sahajiyism; one simply has to regularly hear from them.
Prabhupada: These sahajiyas will come out of so many devotees. What can be done? From my Guru Maharaja’s disciples, so many sahajiyas came. These are called sahajiyas. Very easily they capture thing. So my Guru Maharaja used to say, “When my disciples will be sahajiya, it will be more dangerous.” He used to say like that. Take things very easily. You know that Purusottama, supposed to be my Godbrother?
Prabhupada: You don’t know?
Prthu-putra: In Mayapura?
Prabhupada: In Vrndavana.
Prthu-putra: In Vrndavana. Ah, yes. Purusottama, yes.
Prabhupada: He has poisoned this Nitai.
Prthu-putra: Oh. Is it because we have the desire to come in contact with such persons that we contact them, like Nitai contacting that Purusottama?
Prabhupada: You may not desire, but if you are not strong, you’ll be misled by these rascals. But if we follow this instruction, Narottama dasa Thakura, ara na koriho mane asa, oh, then you become strong. Then you remain strong. Our bhakti line is anyabhilasita-sunyam. We should be completely zero of our material desires. Anyabhilasita-sunyam. Sunyam means zero. Room Conversation on January 28, 1977 in Bhuvanesvara
The mishra-bhakta takes to the process but maintains a separate interest from that of the spiritual master. The sadhana bhakta eventually accepts initiation and performs activities ordered by the spiritual master, in the spirit described here by Srila Prabhupada (ara na koriho mane asa, i.e., no independent desire or interest from the guru). As his or her faith and knowledge increases, he or she may be able to come to the stage of anartha-nivritti.
Cognitive dissonance has reaped a heavy toll amongst the followers of Srila Prabhupada, and, in the chaos that has ensued, new varieties of sahajiyism have taken root. Although there are marked differences from the original thirteen cults (described over a century ago by Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura), there are also quite obvious similarities; when a stream overflows its banks, it will follow the same channels created by previous floods. When bona fide Krishna consciousness becomes contaminated, we can expect to find similarities with previous deviations.
We should renew our efforts to understand and follow Srila Prabhupada’s teachings, re-dedicating ourselves to the personal application of the principles of bhakti-yoga. We should give up any previous idea that simply floating along in the society, friendship and love stream in any one of these groups will be sufficient to bring us to perfection. Nothing is automatic. Such an unconscious idea will never lead us to the perfection of knowledge.
In essence, his teachings are not all that hard to assimilate. If one is an initiate of His Divine Grace, he should make every effort to become a pure devotee, to be the next link in the disciplic succession. If one is not initiated by Srila Prabhupada, he or she should endeavor to become sincere, so that Lord Krishna will put him or her in touch with a bona fide spiritual master.
These efforts can only be successful if we separate ourselves from those who are covering Krishna consciousness in the name of spreading it. Those who are absorbed in acting under the order of Srila Prabhupada on the level of their own qualification (adhikara) will not be disturbed by cognitive dissonance if they still experience a bit of it. They will abandon the non-Krishna idea, and thus make advancement in spiritual life.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada and his real eternal movement.
“Anyone following the order of Lord Caitanya under the guidance of His bona fide representative, can become a spiritual master, and I wish that in my absence all my disciples become the bona fide spiritual master to spread Krishna Consciousness throughout the whole world.” Letter to Madhusudana from Navadvipa on November 2, 1967
Srila Prabhupada: So therefore the conclusion is guru is necessary and guru is he who is representative of Krishna. Otherwise he’s bogus.
Pushta-Krishna: What about the so-called gurus that take a little bit here and a little bit there?
Srila Prabhupada: So-called gurus, they are so-called gurus. They are not gurus. That is already explained. If one does not speak what Krishna speaks, he is not guru. If you accept so-called guru, that is your misfortune. What can be done?
Pushta-Krishna: Some of them will say some things that Krishna says, but they’ll take from other places also. What is the position of such persons?
Srila Prabhupada: He’s most dangerous. He’s most dangerous. He is opportunist. He’s finding out customer, something here . . . According to the customer he is giving something, as the customers will be pleased. So he is not guru. – Answers to a Questionnaire from Bhavan’s Journal on June 28, 1976 in Vrindavana
“Unfortunately, in present day society, in the name of suddha-bhakti, various types of mixed devotion – such as karma-misra, jnana-misra, and yoga-misra, as well as various polluted and imaginary conceptions – are spreading like germs of plague. People in general consider these polluted and mixed conceptions to be bhakti. They respect them as such and thus are deprived of suddha-bhakti. These polluted and mixed conceptions are our greatest enemies. Some people say that there is no value in bhakti, that God is only imaginary sentiment, that man has merely created the image of God through imagination, and that bhakti is a diseased state, unable to benefit us in any way. These types of opponents cannot harm us much, because we easily recognize them and avoid them. However . . .
. . . those who propagate bhagavad-bhakti as the highest dharma – yet behave against the principles of suddha-bhakti – can be especially harmful to us. In the name of bhakti, they instruct us against the actual principles of bhakti. This ultimately leads us to a path that is diametrically opposed to bhagavad-bhakti. Therefore, with great endeavor, our previous acaryas have defined the svarupa or intrinsic nature of bhakti, repeatedly cautioning us to keep away from polluted and mixed concepts.” Bhakti Viveka Tattva by Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura Prabhupada
Prabhupada: My Guru Maharaja used to say, “When our men will be sahajiya, he will be more dangerous.”
Devotee: Our own men.
Prabhupada: Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, he said that, “When our men will be sahajiya, oh, they’ll be more dangerous.” So our men are becoming, some of them, sahajiyas. This very word he said, that, “When our men will be sahajiyas, he’ll be more dangerous.” – Room Conversation on January 24, 1977 in Bhuvanesvara
Note: An earlier version of this article, 21st Century Meleccha Sahajiya Cults, was posted on the Sampradaya Sun and Vaishnava Foundation websites and was extensively edited by Sriman Kailasa Candra dasa. Much of that edited content remains herein, for which the author is grateful.