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By Niscala Devi Dasi
Dear Vipramukhya Maharaja,
I have a problem with your diary for an entirely different reason, which you may like to consider. I appreciate that you are trying to portray yourself in a normal rather than superhuman way. That would make you more approachable and lessen the distance between you and your disciples. And I appreciate that your carefree attitude is a personality thing, which should not be made an issue of. My problem is to do with the guts of the guru-disciple relationship.
The effort on the part of the guru should be to peel away the various coverings of maya from the eyes of the disciple, so as to expose illusion in all its various shades. This is what "opening the eyes with the torchlight of knowledge" is referring to. Since there are varieties of illusion that are commonplace in ISKCON, you could start by presenting those to your disciples. Gradually, you could branch out to shed light on those that are less common and more specific to their time, place, and circumstance.
You could give examples of situations which may have occurred in their lives and explain how to see such by use of the eye of sastra. Gradually, by such training, your disciples, if they are sincere and eager to learn, will be able to identify reality and illusion as separate, clearly. Unless they are trained thus, their progress will be slow, even if they are sincere. In our experience, many fall away due to perceiving they are making no progress at all. This should be alarming.
For this reason, I see a problem with Indradyumna Swami’s diary as well. He has many thousands of disciples, and I wonder how he could possibly have time to preach to the non-devotees. Each and every devotee needs personal time and training, has hurdles to be helped with during the course of his progress, doubts to be dealt with and overcome so that he or she, through exhaustive enquiry, becomes firm and free from illusion, as shown by the ideal guru-disciple relationship between Lord Krsna and Arjuna in the Gita. Further, the disciple needs to be engaged in devotional service according to his unique psychophysical nature. This takes time and careful observation of the disciple by the guru.
It is likely that Indradyumna Swami’s reason is to show an example for his disciples of fired-up preaching, but in regard to his disciples, that enthusiasm cannot come about by imitation or it would be artificial, but from a place of genuine realization from practical experience of the philosophy being a potent tool for ridding oneself of illusion. Once one realizes such, then enthusiasm becomes a natural factor and is indeed difficult to stop. Therefore Srila Prabhupada stressed in the later years of ISKCON that we concentrate more on preaching to our devotees which he called "boiling the milk", and "class rather than mass" — particularly in relation to leadership roles, as shown in his letter to Satsvarupa das Goswami on this topic.
As a leader and a guru, your prime duty specifically is to your disciples. And depending on the number you have and the degree of illusion they are burdened with, I would say that you both have your work cut out for you.
© CHAKRA 8 June 2002
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