Kṛṣṇacandra Dāsa – Śrī Vṛndāvan Dham: Śrīla Prabhupāda has explained how ‘unity in diversity’ means that the Supreme Personality of Godhead Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the unifying factor and everything else is His multi – variegatedness / diversity or His external manifestation – acintya-bhedābheda.
“The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Govinda, the one who enlivens the senses of everyone by His personal bodily rays, resides in His transcendental abode, called Goloka. Yet He is present in every nook and corner of His creation by expansion of happy spiritual rays, equal in power to His personal potency of bliss.” He is therefore simultaneously personal and impersonal by His inconceivable potency, or He is the one without a second, displaying complete unity in a diversity of material and spiritual manifestations. He is separate from everything, and still nothing is different from Him. [The Brahma-saṁhitā. 5.37]
Unity in diversity does not mean that one must accept all points of view so long as they are espoused by members of our ISKCON Society whether they be general members or the upper echelon members. It also does not mean that we must seek to unify with jñānīs, yogis, impersonalist transcendentalists, academics, scientists, speculative philosophers, practitioners of yoga or impersonalist/apasiddhantic followers of; Hinduism, Christianity, Islam or Judaism.
Our purpose is to educate others that the Supreme Personality of Godhead Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the unifying principle under which all diverse belief systems or sects should function.
We do not operate under the “Agree to Disagree” principle and attempt to cooperate or in other words reconcile / compromise our faith in order to accommodate or inculcate [religious sycretism] another’s belief system or idea.
Material nature means dissension and disagreement, especially in this Kali yuga. But, for this Krsna consciousness movement its success will depend on agreement, even though there are varieties of engagements. . In the material world there are varieties, but there is no agreement. In the spiritual world there are varieties, but there is agreement. That is the difference. The materialist without being able to adjust the varieties and the disagreements makes everything zero. They cannot come into agreement with varieties, but if we keep Krsna in the center, then there will be agreement in varieties. This is called unity in diversity. I am therefore suggesting that all our men meet in Mayapur every year during the birth anniversary of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. With all GBC and senior men present we should discuss how to make unity in diversity. But, if we fight on account of diversity, then it is simply the material platform. Please try to maintain the philosophy of unity in diversity. That will make our movement successful. One section of men have already gone out, therefore we must be very careful to maintain unity in diversity, and remember the story in Aesop’s Fables of the father of many children with the bundle of sticks. When the father asked his children to break the bundle of sticks wrapped in a bag, none of them could do it. But, when they removed the sticks from the bag, and tried one by one, the sticks were easily broken. So this is the strength in unity. If we are bunched up, we can never be broken, but when divided, then we can become broken very easily. [Letter – Kirtianananda. Oct,8,1973]
Here Śrīla Prabhupāda explains the “Agree to Agree” principle to Kirtanananda and his followers of the New Vṛndāvan Community who had deviated by attempting to inculcate religious syncretic ideologies into Śrīla Prabhupāda’s Kṛṣṇa Conscious teachings. Śrīla Prabhupāda explains that unity in diversity means that one should cooperate with ‘him’ in his ISKCON society and not try to create diversity within our Society.
Śrīla Prabhupāda was very adamant that Kirtanananda and his followers stop their attempt to homogenize Kṛṣṇa consciousness with other religious belief systems such as Christianity as the New Vṛndāvan Community were doing at the time.
He urged Kirtanananda to seek to agree with the teachings as given by himself and the paramparā and not create ‘dissention and disagreement’ in our society. That we should all work together to push on the Sankirtan Movement of Lord Caitanya and not diversify into our own speculative ventures as – ten sticks bundled together is far stronger than a single stick; as given in ‘Aesop’s Fables’.
Śrīla Prabhupāda being the maha bhagavata devotee coming down in disciplic succession knows full well that should our society begin to diversify or change his teachings that it would only create dissention and disagreement within our society.
As we have all witnessed our leaders diversified immediately upon Śrīla Prabhupāda’s physically departing by changing the initiation system to the speculative Rubber Stamped Guru system then they systematically centralized all power and control of the society by instituting corporate management systems to manage his society instead of using the DOM.
This allowed for the leaders to create an ambitious corporate ladder climbing momentum within our society that lends itself to the pursuit of fame, admiration, position, acquisition of money, resources and manpower of the various individuals vying for position within the corporate infrastructure. In order to create social acceptance of their corporate policies of ‘extravagance’ they introduced liberal mindedness into our society in the form of political correctness.
Because of the influence of Kali-yuga, there is much rasābhāsa in the name of extravagance and liberal-mindedness. Such fanaticism is not very much appreciated by pure devotees. [CC.Madhya.8.90]
Rasabhasa is the discordant mixing of relationships or rasas. Our present ISKCON society has created a Society that is ‘inappropriately’ mixing pure devotional service with mixed devotional service by merely paying lip service to pure devotional service while simultaneously emphasizing; liberalist ‘politically correct’ ideologies, encouraging secular academic pursuit, engaging in ‘interfaith’ religious syncretic dialogue, corrupting renunciation by allowing extravagant lifestyles for their upper echelon including the sannyāsa ashram and the Rubber Stamped Guru appointees.
By allowing rasābhāsa policies and mentalities to take precedent over pure devotional service the GBC has to all extents and purposes driven a wedge deep inside our society by creating the superfluous division/concept within our society of the – ‘traditionalist’ and the ‘modernist’ devotee. A devotee of ISKCON is nothing but someone who accepts Śrīla Prabhupāda as the supreme spiritual and material authority and there is no question of a traditionalist devotee or a liberalist/modernist devotee. There is only the question of those loyal to Śrīla Prabhupāda and those who are loyal to the errant GBC and Rubber Stamped Gurus and their apologists.
This division, or false dichotomy, can only be viewed as an intentional move by the liberalist minded devotee who seeks to have their opinion of how our Kṛṣṇa conscious society should be run and operated. At present due to the highly ambitious nature of the ‘liberalist’ devotees who have gained institutional positional power and influence in the leadership of our society they, in actual fact, now have the upper hand in running and operating our Kṛṣṇa conscious society.
Having shifted away from Śrīla Prabhupāda’s teachings and instructions there now exists in our society a fertile breeding ground for speculative ideologies which spring from the mundane minds and intellects of devotees as to how best solve the problem of the proponents of the ‘agree with Śrīla Prabhupāda Loyalist’ devotees who refuse to ‘agree to disagree’ with the multifarious speculations of the liberalist devotee who desires that our society be based on mixed devotional service principles.
A case in point is the speculative idea of turning ISKCON into a ‘Commonwealth’ or an International organization of autonomous Temples and Communities that are united in allegiance to a central power but are not subordinate to it or to one another.
The reasoning behind such a speculative idea is that if one has two parties fighting each other then the best strategy is to separate each party as far as possible from each other. This idea does not seek to deal with the issues that underlie the dissention or disagreement but to simply ‘agree to disagree’ with each other and to allow each other to ‘exist’ at different geographical locations for the sake of peace.
However when we examine the underlying factors behind the dissension and disagreements within our society we will see that the disease will not be cured by symptomatic treatment such as ‘quarantine’ or isolation treatment regimes and that we must seek to cure the disease completely, if we are to unite together to push on the Sankirtan Mission of Lord Caitanya. This is why Śrīla Prabhupāda in his letter to Kirtanananda [above] wanted that he agree to agree with him and his teachings and instructions and not change them according to his, Kirtanananda’s own speculative whim.
To inculcate the rasābhāsa reasoning of the so called modernist devotee has and will only create dissension amongst the members of our society and move us further away from the actual teachings of His Divine Grace AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda.
It is not a matter of agree to disagree which is based on the false ego assumption that ‘I want to have it my way’ which has nothing to do with the ideology of ‘unity in diversity’ of the paramparā system as given by the maha bhagavata devotee His Divine Grace AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda. If we are to unite together to push on this Sankirtan Mission of Lord Caitanya we must not ‘agree to disagree’ with the modernist/liberalist neophyte mentality which sees mixed [rasābhāsa] devotional service as the main manner in which Kṛṣṇa consciousness will be spread in this day and age.
This is of course highly offensive to the pure devotee His Divine Grace AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda who has given us a system and society designed to function under pure devotional service. We have a choice; either we agree to agree with Śrīla Prabhupāda and his teachings and instructions or we agree to disagree with his teachings and instructions and follow whoever has the most power and influence within our society…
According to Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura, through transcendental knowledge one obtains liberation, whereas through pure devotional service one can achieve love of Godhead, in which liberation is automatically included. Both results are certainly superior to ordinary, fruitive activities, by which one tries to enjoy much the same things that animals do. If one’s devotional service is mixed with a tendency toward fruitive activities or mental speculation, then one may achieve the neutral stage of love of Godhead, whereas those who are inclined to serve only Lord Kṛṣṇa advance to the higher stages of love of Godhead in servitude, friendship, parental love and the conjugal relationship. [SB.11.20.11]
Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu was never pleased to hear books or verses opposed to the conclusive statements of devotional service. The Lord did not like hearing rasābhāsa, the overlapping of transcendental mellows.
Bhakti-siddhānta-viruddha refers to that which is against the principle of unity in diversity, philosophically known as acintya-bhedābheda—simultaneous oneness and difference—whereas rasābhāsa is something that may appear to be a transcendental mellow but actually is not. Those who are pure Vaiṣṇavas should avoid both these things opposed to devotional service. These misconceptions practically parallel the Māyāvāda philosophy. If one indulges in Māyāvāda philosophy, he gradually falls down from the platform of devotional service. By overlapping mellows (rasābhāsa) one eventually becomes a prākṛta-sahajiyā and takes everything to be very easy. One may also become a member of the bāula community and gradually become attracted to material activities. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has therefore advised us to avoid bhakti-siddhānta-viruddha and rasābhāsa. In this way the devotee can remain pure and free from falldowns. Everyone should try to remain aloof from bhakti-siddhānta-viruddha and rasābhāsa. [CC.Madhya.10.113]