Bhaktisiddhanta Dasa – Vrndavan: “Ruci do it, don’t just think about it, just do it.”
After the departure of Srila Prabhupada the whole ISKCON movement was turned upside down by the fabulous 11 who took over the movement and divided the world into 11 parts. Over night we who joined this Hare Krsna Movement were suddenly confronted with these 11 who claimed they were now Acharya’s and we had to go through them to connect with our own spiritual master; amazing transformation since all of them were eating meat, and breaking all of the four regulative principles just a few years before. The ramifications’ of this travesty is spelled out here in this story of Ruci das who took this action harder than anyone else.
Ruci and I were close friends he did many years on the streets of Los Angeles and other places distributing Srila Prabhupada’s books. He was a famous distributer doing big numbers of books each day; his mood was always joyful and sincere. He was fully dedicated to Srila Prabhupada; his early years in this movement were spent at the LA airport distributing transcendental literatures.
Soon after he joined he started right in as a book distributor. Many of the devotees like Ruci who joined in the beginning were placed on the street soon after they entered the doors of Krsna Consciousness. Ruci was a brilliant person and one of these men who believed in the importance of this message delivered by Srila Prabhupada. He dedicated his life in propagating this Krsna Consciousness message around the world through book distribution. After the departure of Srila Prabhupada Ruci spent most of his time in Vrindaban, for a few days I would see him sitting under one tree located just outside the Krsna Balarama Guest House.
Always it looked like he was in a state of depression and indecision. I remember often sitting under that same tree with him trying to cheer him up by joking with him. He kept himself bottled up not saying much, never really going into depth of what he was thinking or felt. Because of this look on his face I would always try and lighten the situation and the few times I walked by him sitting there I repeated this same line a few days running just joking with him.
“Ruci do it, don’t just think about it, just do it.”
I had no idea of what he was contemplating or what was his state of depression? I just saw a person who needed to be picked up and joking with him I felt was the medicine he needed. His mood was always morose and serious, so for the few times I joked with him he gave no response, he just sat there under the tree chanting saying nothing. He did reveal to me one day that the matter of his depression was due to the condition of the movement and now he had no place in a movement that was running opposite to what Srila Prabhupada wanted. His taste for book distribution vanished along with Srila Prabhupada.
One morning a few days later in my daily routine of waking up the deities here at the Krsna Balarama temple I encountered something that really upset me. Someone had stacked up all the pictures of the new gurus on top of a picture of Srila Prabhupada.
This might seem innocent enough since the new followers of these 11 didn’t received proper training because there was no time to give these new initiates the special training they needed. The problem was that each of these 11 were hell bent on getting as many disciples as possible, the contest was on who would become the next leading Acharya. The more disciples the better chance for getting this top slot.
The competition is still running today only now the number of Acharya’s has grown from the initial 11 to 90 and still growing. At that time the GBC had already given the direction that no new guru pictures should remain on any altar in ISKCON overnight. The pictures should be brought in by the new disciple and placed on the altar as they did their pujari work during the arotik, and removed immediately after they finished their puja. This rule has been neglected here at our Krsna Balarama temple since the departure of Srila Prabhupada. So that morning I went into the deity kitchen and there was Ruci making Chapati dough for the next offering and I told him what I had just seen and what an offense someone had done;
“Ruci, you won’t believe what I just found; inside on Radha Shyam’s altar I saw this offensive disregard of our spiritual master.” Then I told him of the neglectful use of these guru pictures. He gave me a look of total depression and disgust and said;
“Please, don’t tell me anymore I can’t handle this any longer!”
Two days later he walked across town to the train tracks where the Radharani Express was running and threw himself under the train and his body was cut in half. He died thinking this movement was dead. There was no longer any room for any of us less senior disciples of Srila Prabhupada because now we had to go through these 11 in order to reach Srila Prabhupada; this was the horrible depressing mood at that time.
Ruci’s death went largely unnoticed; no one wanted to talk about it since the issue was so sensitive. Everyone could understand the driving factor for his committing suicide; his depression came in the wake of the violent takeover by this conspiracy group who conjured up this master plan while Srila Prabhupada was still on his deathbed.
Ruci committed an unforgiveable act by taking his own life, he knew this action would probably get him a ghost body in his next life. But more unforgiving are those persons who prompted his action by this violent takeover and their violence towards all the other god brothers and sisters in the movement at that time. It may seem a little late to retell this sad story but it is never too late for change.
Ruci was a martyr for a cause he believed was most important; that being to save this movement for which our Srila Prabhupada shed his own blood to make his dream come true; a world Krsna Conscious, a world without violence which means doing harm to another by ones actions and words.
If I had known what was in his head I would never had joked with him rather the advice would have been just hang on and let the Supreme Lord give us the intelligence to handle this, the solution is now too far out of our reach. The answer also lies somewhat in the hands of those sincere devotees who still realize that without our spiritual master meaning Srila Prabhupada there is no hope for going back home back to Godhead. All of these new gurus who are initiating on behalf of Srila Prabhupada and carry the message of the parampara thereby remaining transparent and pass on the karma of their new initiates through the line of disciplic secession are moving in the right direction.
The important emphasis is transparency, meaning initiating on behalf of our spiritual master and that initiation is bonafide. However the case is different today our society ISKCON is being led in another direction as Ruci found himself going down the wrong tracks. Those who give initiation and take the worship and disciples as their own rather than lead them to Srila Prabhupada are in serious error. Those who take initiation and not recognize that they are really disciples of Srila Prabhupada are also in error. In effect they are missing the chance to achieve this purification gifted by Srila Prabhupada.
The new gurus have their mission to perform to bring new members to the lotus feet of Srila Prabhupada and train them accordingly. The new gurus have the responsibility of training these new initiates to follow the process and surrender completely to Srila Prabhupada. However, if one takes worship for himself and misunderstands the reality that they are working on behalf of their own spiritual master meaning Srila Prabhupada then that transparence is broken and the karma they take on becomes opaque and remains on the head of that initiating guru.
The case history of all the fallen 11 proves out this result. We are down the line now many years since the departure of Srila Prabhupada but the fact remains, we are all working on behalf of Srila Prabhupada the manner in which Ruci died must be kept in our consciousness. At the last moment before he threw his body under that train he took off all his clothes and shouted “HARE KRSNA” then he gave up his body as if there was no other way available for him to serve Srila Prabhupada. What a horrible way to end one’s life, cut in half. With a name like Ruci he should have by this time developed a higher taste. His death measures the degree of depression many devotees had following the take over after the departure of our spiritual master.
Everyone should remember the shock and disappointment when these initial 11 men led us down the wrong train tracks, the end result was the death of many other depressed disciples of Srila Prabhupada who gave their life and soul to this movement only to see its real meaning disappear after the disappearance of our Srila Prabhupada. Ruci’s case is only one, there were many others maybe even thousands, out there who left us or died in disgust. How can we put Srila Prabhupada back in the center when he is the center?
Those who are sitting on high seats and directly taking the worship of disciples had best remain transparent and pure and remember if there is any slight deviation they become opaque and all that accumulated karma falls on their head. Becoming guru means absolute purity in heart, thought, action, word and deed. That is why this is the role of the suddha bhakta. For all of us nothing less than complete transparency will bring on the mercy of Srila Prabhupada; what to speak about those who have taken on this high responsibility of Guruship? How is it possible for anyone to suddenly say; “Now you have to go through me in order to reach Srila Prabhupada!” when he is available for everyone at all times. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.