Vikramasingha Dāsa – India: Recently I heard that yet another one of the ISKCON gbc-elected “iskurus” had been exposed for repeated gross deviations and that he had resigned in disgrace. Although his man wrote a letter of so-called apology, he failed to advise his hundreds of followers to take full shelter of Srila Prabhupada. Nor did he accept the gravity of his offense to Śrīla Prabhupāda and to the devotees in his charge. Nor did he offer to make amends. This lack of remorse and lack of determination for rectification expressed in his pseudo-apology has upset many devotees. All this reminded me of the history from Srimad-Bhagavatam Ninth Canto of the pure devotee Prishadra.
This is the story of a young kshatriya named Prishadra, who took the noble vow of standing alone all night to guard the cows in the goshala. One night in the rain, when the light of the stars was covered by dense darkness, a tiger entered the cow shed and grabbed a cow and began to carry it away. Prishadra, hearing the crying cow, followed the sound and swung his sword with great force at the tiger but cut off the head of the cow instead. The tiger was slightly wounded and ran away in great fear.
The next morning, when Prishadra realized his mistake, he was very sorry. In spite of his remorse, Vasistha Rishi, his spiritual master, cursed him to become a sudra in his next life. He accepted the curse of his guru with folded hands, and then left the kingdom to go the forest to practice bhakti-yoga while following a vow of total celibacy for the rest of his life. He completely controlled his senses and fixed his mind totally on the Supreme Personality of Godhead. After controlling his mind and senses and becoming fully detached from the external world of matter, he wandered about as if an aimless madman while always remaining fully absorbed in remembering the Supreme Lord at all times and all places. In this way Sriman Prishadra Prabhu, unlike the gbc pretender mentioned above, showed the best example of atonement for his accidental severe sin.
One day in the forest Prishadra saw a blazing forest fire and took this opportunity to end his life by entering the fire. Immediately upon Prishadra’s death, in spite of the curse of his guru, he went back home, back to Godhead.
Such spiritually motivated suicide is sometimes practiced by great personalities who have conquered their minds and senses and realized fully the futility of material existence. Long ago, Lord Rishabhadeva, a visnu-tattva incarnation of the Supreme Lord and the best example and emblem for those in the paramahamsa status of life, entered a forest fire to burn His transcendental body to ashes here in Kodachadri Valley, where I am presently visiting on tirthayatra.
Those who are not yet fully surrendered disciples of Srila Prabhupada must remain fearfully enduring all the many pangs of material existence, even while trying to chant Hare Krishna. No amount of money, followers or prestige can save one from the curse of material existence in general or, specifically, the ill will of sadhaka devotees and great sages like Vasistha Rishi. If we insist on remaining attached to the material world for any reason, even in the name of preaching, we must continually endure birth, death, old age and disease again and again, even while supposedly chanting Hare Krishna.
Another interesting point in the story of the pure devotee Prishadra is that his own spiritual master, Vasistha, cursed him rather than blessed him with a method of elevation. Srila Prabhupada comments that this fact indicates that Vasistha was influenced by the mode of ignorance. Srila Prabhupada quotes Srila Visvanatha Chakravati Thakura in this regard, who concludes that Vasistha’s intelligence was durmati, or “not very good”.
Unless one accepts as spiritual master one who is always completely beyond the influence of material nature– in other words, an uttama-adhikari or mahabhagavata such as Srila Prabhupada or Visvanatha Chakravarti Thakura– he may not find the remedy for ending the curse of material existence for many, many lifetimes, even though he may be fortunate enough to get someone as exalted as Vasistha Rishi as guru. Throughout the Vedas it is confirmed that Vasistha is one of the greatest sages in the universe and is worshipped even by great demigods and rishis in heaven; yet even he became influenced by the tamo-guna.
In His purports to Sri Isopanisad, Srila Prabhupada repeatedly stresses that one must hear from and accept only an “undisturbed acarya” to get relief from the bondage of the powerful illusory energy of the Lord: “Unless one hears from the bona fide acarya, who is never disturbed by the changes of the material world, one cannot have the real key to transcendental knowledge.” And throughout His books He emphatically stresses that “One who is disturbed by the whirlpool movements of the material energy is not qualified to become an acarya.” (Sri Isopanisad, Mantra Thirteen, Purport.) The story of Prishadra and Vasistha illustrates why all sastras and all true acaryas advise that intelligent devotees should accept only an uttama-adhikari, a fully self-realized Vaisnava, as guru. “… a disciple should be careful to accept an uttama-adhikari as spiritual master.” (Nectar of Instruction, Text 5, Purport)
Fortunate souls who have accepted the most merciful Srila Prabhupada as spiritual master, even though they may make serious mistakes in their service, can still cross beyond the ocean of birth and death and achieve Lord Krishna’s full mercy without a doubt if they are humble and unpretentious. Therefore, one who has mistakenly accepted an upstart as guru should ignore such a pretender and accept Srila Prabhupada exclusively by hearing from Him carefully and serving His lotus feet. This path is open to everyone (tandera carana sevi bhakta-sanivas). The fall downs and curses of so-called gurus with “not very good” intelligence will never disturb Srila Prabhupada’s bona fide disciples. By Srila Prabhupada’s divine grace only, a sincere devotee quickly gives up material attachments by achieving a higher taste in Krishna consciousness. According to Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad-gita, such a determined devotee doesn’t need to take birth again in this material world. Rather, he or she transcends all impediments, as did Prishadra Prabhu, and goes back to Godhead immediately after death. This is possible only for fortunate devotees who experience the higher taste of Krishna consciousness by Srila Prabhupada’s divine grace.
Guru-krsna prasade paya, bhakti-lata bija.
Rasa-varjam raso ‘py asya, param drstva nivartate.
[A final note on this lesson from Bhagavatam: Those who have made it their focus to expose misskcon leaders often fail to mention their abuse of Krishna’s cows. Equally as horrible to child abuse is cow abuse. This story illustrates the grave danger of even accidental abuse or neglect of cows.]