Kṛṣṇacandra Dāsa – Śrī Vṛndāvan Dham: Due to the GBC lowering the standard of an Initiating Spiritual master/Guru and Sannyasis in ISKCON I wanted to depict how the lowering of the moral and spiritual standard for our ISKCON leaders to what the Christians find acceptable in their priests and congregations could impact on our devotional society.
So I wrote this fictitious story below of what could be the mentality of the present day disciples years after their guru’s demise…
‘Oh Kṛṣṇa I nearly dropped the salt!’ He said delighted at his daughter who was watching his every move with the glee of an eight month old baby. He poked a face at her she beamed back at him giving him a sweet gurgling giggle, which made everyone at the table laugh. Little Lali of course looked every which way at the sudden uproar, her little cherub face contorted with fear one moment and filled with a gleeful smile the next.
‘We better honor our prasadam with a little more decorum’ his mother said sternly but in mock seriousness and everyone settled back down to finish their meal. It was a rare occasion that the whole family was seated around any table but this was a very special lunch. It was Gopal’s sister, Nandu’s graduation from University finishing her MA in Business Management as well as a celebration for her getting a high flying junior management position at the regional McDonalds Administration Office. The whole family was so proud of her for such an achievement at such a young age and it showed on the faces of all who sat at that family table.
Gopal’s mother was an older disciple of Sacinandana Swami and so knew the value of success in material life while ‘doing the needful’ but always keeping Kṛṣṇa in her heart. She was a very senior Vaiṣṇava in the ISKCON society and many devotees came to her for advice and guidance since Mahārāja had left his body. Her husband Nandulal was killed in a car accident while going to the Sunday feast when Gopal was only ten and so she knew the loss and the hardship of bringing up a family of two while sacrificing her material life for the pursuit of spiritual life in pure devotional consciousness.
Her parents were living with them, now they had retired, and sat at the table taking prasadam. They were both dedicated Christians who although they still ate meat, drank wine and beer they were still very pious people who respected their daughter’s decision to be Kṛṣṇa consciousness. As a dedicated daughter she did not mind cooking separately for them, meat dishes, but she drew the line at cooking beef which they of course completely understood, so whenever they felt like indulging in some cow flesh they would cook for themselves.
Her son and daughter were both very sincere devotees and loved Kṛṣṇa with all their heart. They always went to the Sunday feast and even chanted occasionally. She was happy with that as they were very good devotees both of them and she knew that even though they were not perfect, that they were fully engaged in pure devotional service to Lord Śrī Krsna. She herself chanted sometimes when she had the time and that is why she loved going to the Sunday feast as it gave her a moment to deeply chant and taste the nectar of the Holy Name.
Gopal was a good son and he married a nice girl. She was not a devotee but she too respected our wishes to be devotees. She came from a reform Jewish family who were nice people but did not like the idea of their daughter marrying out of their religion. Their daughter, Sara, was a free spirit who, although she did not believe in a God, was still a very spiritual person and was very much attracted to new age mysticism which was after all still Kṛṣṇa conscious as everything can be so easily dovetailed to serve the Lord. There were some problems with adjustment of having her so close in their family, since she was an atheist and also a meat eater, but, as a family they understood very well that ‘unity in diversity’ meant that we could and should all be able to live together in perfect harmony. The fact that she was a member of their family meant she was engaging in pure devotional service and she knew that Kṛṣṇa would make sure that she would go back to Godhead when her time came.
Srimate, Gopal’s mother, looked around her dining table at the faces of her family members and was content. Four generations of her family sat there together sharing a meal. It wasn’t perfect as her parents and Sara were eating chicken curry she had made for them, but it was her wonderful devotee family all living in peace and harmony.
‘Hey I am sure Lali would love some of this chicken curry that your mother made Gopal?” said Srimate’s father in a half joking half serious tone. Srimate shook her head in mock seriousness ‘I am sure she can wait till she is old enough to make her own choice.’ She replied with a smile for she knew the value of not forcing anyone to conform to religious life as it may drive them away. Her father smiled and shrugged his shoulders shaking his head.
In her heart Srimate knew the power of Kṛṣṇa consciousness that bound this family together through thick and thin. She was reminded of the time that her husband had caught her with the Russian brahmacārī who she had taken a fancy to, and how he had been so kind and forgiving to her. He knew that she was only satisfying her carnal needs which meant nothing in the light of her exalted state of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. He too had many, you could say, extra marital affairs and they would joke that he was such an impersonalist that he thought he was Kṛṣṇa with his Gopis. In fact the afternoon he left his body and went back to Goloka Vṛndāvan, he was dropping off one of his ‘gopi’ girlfriends on his way to the Sunday feast at New Vraja Dham, Hungary.
There was so much love and forgiveness in their lives that she felt content and happy with her lot in life and so grateful to her gurudev who had opened her darkened eyes and filled them with the light of his transcendental vision!
Today was also a special day for it was the day that their new Deities were to be installed. Her son had just returned from picking up their new Deities that a devotee from Hungary had made. They were beautiful and they would have them installed this afternoon soon after lunch. The devotee who made them was a Russian artist who used to be a doll maker in St Petersburg but left to live at New Vraja Dham in Hungary. He made the most exquisite Deities which you could easily pose in any position that you desired. They even had eyes that you could move to look any way you choose and perfect little arms and legs that you could twist to any position you wanted. She was reminded of the Barbie doll that her father had bought her when she was ten, it was the most gorgeous thing she ever owned, but now her new Deities were a thousand times better than the Barbie dolls of her childhood!
After the meal was over the preparations started for the installation of the Deities and the whole household was busy doing the many tasks required. The whole event went better than they anticipated and it was unanimously declared that Kṛṣṇa had blessed the occasion. The Deities looked so wonderful holding each other in a lovers embrace while seated on their swing and everyone took turns swinging the divine couple.
The new morning found the house quiet as Gopal and his family along with Nandu had left for their homes. But Srimate knew this would not last as soon other devotees would arrive to help out and have darśana of her new Deities. Today she had a surprise for everyone.
She found in an old secondhand shop a ceramic horse that she would seat the divine couple on so they can ride through the forests of Vṛndāvan together. She knew the devotees would love it and she was not proven wrong either. They loved them on the horse even though the horse was a little small for them it still was wonderful to behold the divinely inspired spiritual rasa of her dearest Lords. She also could not wait till Christmas as she had already started on a Father Christmas outfit for Kṛṣṇa and an Elf’s outfit for Rādhārāṇī and she knew where to get some really nice Reindeers and some fantastic Christmas decorations for her altar! She knew that having these new Deities would be such an incredible inspiration for her whole family and it would definitely make them more Kṛṣṇa conscious!
A friend of Gopal’s dropped over after lunch and she fed him with left over chicken curry as he was only a new bhakta and had not had the chance to make any changes in his life and so was still eating meat but thankfully not cow meat. He ate the meal with relish and she gave him desert which was prasadam halava from her new Deities which he gobbled down.
‘Gee thank Mrs Roberts’ he said wiping his mouth with a napkin. ‘I love Indian food!’ He said with a smile. ‘Aren’t you supposed to be vegetarian Mrs R?’ ‘Well yes and no. Sure it is best to not eat meat but Kṛṣṇa is very merciful and so long as you think of him he will accept whatever you give him.’ ‘Do you offer him the chicken curry?’ ‘Well not exactly but he accepts anything given with love. We don’t offer him the flesh only the gravy.’ She said in a matter of fact manner. ‘Oh yeah that makes sense?’ He replied but he was not sure if it did in fact make sense.
‘So Mrs R are you going to become a guru? If you did then I want to be your first disciple!’ He said proudly. ‘Well Pete I will find out in the next few days after the guru committee meets and they will let me know their decision. But from what I have heard they will say yes.’ She said with a slight smile of pride on her face. She knew they would say yes for she had supported them all over the years and they wanted more women gurus. The only problem she had to face was that some devotees complained about her being unfaithful to her husband and carried on about her having several affairs with men since he passed. But she was sure that as these were only minor infringements they would not actually affect her spiritual standing in the community and so the committee would not see them as a hindrance. Most devotees she knew supported her knowing that her sexual exploits were nothing in the light of her deep and profound mood of Kṛṣṇa consciousness and they actually helped the men involved to become more Kṛṣṇa conscious due to her being a self realized soul in pure transcendental consciousness.
Sexual morality is, as we know, merely a social moral consideration which bears no significant impact on her deep spiritual realization being as it was based on her profound love of her guru. Those who knew her would forgive her sexual dallies knowing them for what they are, nothing but a time pass, when she was not fully absorbed in the bliss of transcendental pastimes with the Lord.
The devotees were again gathering in the lounge and she suddenly felt inspired to run to them. Knowing that they awaited her presence she threw her arms up into the air and danced into the lounge room, her body moving as if spontaneously to the sweet rhythms of kirtana which only she could hear. She could see it in their eyes that they knew she was in prema, and that it was Kṛṣṇa himself with whom she was dancing.
The devotees gathered round her and someone turned the TV off and put on one of Sivarama Swami’s kīrtans and she felt herself immediately swept into the lord arms and was lost to all external consciousness. As she whirled around arms outstretched in wild abandon she could make out that they were watching her and that they knew who she was with…
All gathered in the room stood silently as they beheld Mother Srimate dancing in transcendental ecstasy. As one they were all reminded of Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu who would also dance this way, even Pete was enthralled to see her dance and at that very moment he knew in his heart that she was his guru.
After the dance Srimate fell into a swoon and was carried to the sofa and much fuss was made over her as she gently calmed down and came into external consciousness.
Some of the older devotees were reminded of the final pastimes of the maha bhagavata and dear God brother of her very own guru, Radhanatha swami. Where he would dance with wild abandon while playing his celestial harmonica all the while steeped in Kṛṣṇa prema and everyone could see that he was Lord Caitanya himself dancing before their very eyes…
Now here right before their very eyes was yet another manifestation of the Lord. They were all convinced that the Lord was manifesting on earth in so many similar pure souls to teach them to love and serve him…
Soon evening turned to night and everyone left her to sleep and the house was quiet with her parents asleep in their room. She slowly roused herself from the sofa content with what had happened. She always felt invigorated after she danced and now she was hungry so she went to the fridge and helped herself to left over prasadam and one of her father’s beers which she poured into a stainless steel glass and carefully disposed of the can. The beer was cold and bitter but it made the prasadam taste so much nicer. Kṛṣṇa was so merciful.
She pondered on the thoughts of the devotees in her house while she ate. She was happy that they thought that she was Lord Caitanya himself even though she knew she was not. To think that way would strengthen their Kṛṣṇa consciousness and make them all the more closer to her for when she would be allowed to initiate. With these thoughts comforting her she took a few pills to help her sleep and went to her bedroom.
Putting on the TV she lay back with a packet of chips and half a glass of beer and watched a movie until sleep took her…
When she woke her mind was cloudy, the usual after effect of the sleeping pills mixed with the beer she drank the night before. It was late and soon the devotees would arrive to dress the Lords… Since she was late she skipped taking bath but washed her face put on jeans and a T shirt to greet the devotees when they came.
When they arrived they were so happy to see her as they talked about the previous day and her ecstatic dancing, some she heard were murmuring that her present sluggish mood was an effect of being in Kṛṣṇa prema… She liked that as she knew it would strengthen their resolve in Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
After the quick morning program she wondered should she begin having Śrīmad Bhāgavatam class again. But then she remembered that she was never able to maintain the class and believed that it was Kṛṣṇa telling her that she did not need to do it as her association alone would be enough to teach others to become more conscious of Krsna.
When she checked her email she was over the moon to see that she was accepted as an Initiating Spiritual Master for the International Society for Kṛṣṇa Consciousness! She danced with joy when seeing this news. However she quickly remembered to maintain a serene decorum so that others would not see her joy and mistake it for mundane happiness.
Her mind raced with thoughts of what she could do and who she would allow to become her disciple. She remembered the glory and worship that the other ISKCON gurus had received and her heart pounded in her chest with anticipatory excitement. She was finally a GURU!!!! Oh how long she had waited for this! How long she knew in her heart she was qualified to lead others! She needed something to calm herself down and so she took a sleeping pill which soon took the edge off her excitement but she was dying to shout it out to the world! She had finally made it! She had arrived at the pinnacle of success of being a devotee! She was a Guru!
She remembered when she first applied for the position she feared they would not give it to her as there were so many other candidates for the position of a guru but she had done everything she knew would help her qualify for the position and it paid off!
The main clincher that gave her the position, she knew in her heart, was when another guru was accused of having sexual relations with a young boy, a child of one of his disciples. She had been asked to be one of three devotees given the responsible role of investigating the incident. The three of them agreed that should this be made public it would be detrimental to the society’s preaching mission and cast a bad light on not only the guru but the guru system if the boy was taken seriously. They spoke with the parents who were in disbelief that their guru would do such a thing. The parents readily agreed that the boy was imagining the whole affair and it was best for all that he stop making these claims and maybe they need to move to another Temple away from this bad situation. The boy was silenced and the family relocated to another Temple and everything was as it should be. The GBC thanked her for her service to the society and Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa and mentioned her pending guruship in passing which was enough to let her know that she had made the right decision.
She also felt in her heart that she was supporting a maha bhagavat devotee of the Lord who was only playing a role in the child’s life in order to correct him of his errant ways and so purify him. The Lord does work in mysterious ways she remembered a quote her father used…
She knew that in this kali yuga the world was so corrupted that in order to effect real and lasting change the multitude of maha bhagavat gurus of ISKCON had to touch others in their level of consciousness. No longer was there a requirement to set a lofty example from days of yore. Those traditional values went out with the last yuga and in modern times the only way to truly reach another was to show them that you understood. This is clearly explained by the modern age Ācāryas who superseded the older ones of whom the latest was AC Bhaktivedanta Swami.
These modern gurus were the new “Prabhupādas” the “jagat gurus” and it is in their divine wisdom that bhagavata dharma truly lies for only they knew what it took to break away from the irrational restraints of the traditional set in stone Vaiṣṇava’s mentality that saw mundane purity to be the foundation of spiritual life. It took these new age gurus to free mankind from the last vestiges of the indoctrination of traditional dogma and show how true spiritual insight is within each and every one of us.
Each and every one of us has God inside us and all we need to do is to free ourselves from the dogma of the past which binds us to the material conception of morality and manmade rules and regulations of śāstra and give in to our hearts in bhakti so we free our minds and intellect so we can swim in the nectar of true unalloyed Kṛṣṇa consciousness, the consciousness of God…
To be continued… Maybe… I feel sick…