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“We should consider the enormity of this statement--that Srila Prabhupada knew of the child abuse but failed to do anything about it. Basically Jadurani is saying that Srila Narayana Maharaja said Srila Prabhupada is omniscient, like Krsna, but didn't intervene because the children's suffering was ultimately good for the development of their devotional service!”

      Bhaktivedanta Book Trust editor
      Senior disciple of Srila Prabhupada










Guru is not omniscient

Two Troubling Issues Concerning the Teachings of Srila Narayana Maharaja
By Dravida dasa

CHAKRA (May 7, 2000) - To be real followers of Srila Prabhupada means to accept his teachings as the Gaudiya Vaisnava siddhanta.

cittete koriya aikya ar na koriho mane asa

"Make the teachings emanating from the lotus mouth of our spiritual master one with your heart, and do not desire anything else."

One of the greatest dangers followers of Srila Prabhupada face when they take siksa from Srila Narayana Maharaja or others outside ISKCON is that they risk accepting teachings or accepting views of Srila Prabhupada that may at first seem perfectly reasonable but that ultimately lead to grave offense. Two examples concern the fall of the jiva issue and what I call "the omniscience fallacy."

The Omniscience Fallacy

From a reading of the sastra we learn that the acarya is beyond the four defects of imperfect senses, making mistakes, becoming illusioned, and cheating. In addition, Krsna says (Bhag 11.17.27),

acaryam mam vijaniyan navanmanyeta karhicit na martya-buddhyasuyeta sarva-deva-mayo guruh

"One should know the acarya as Myself and never disrespect him in any way. One should not envy him, thinking him an ordinary man, for he is the representative of all the demigods." These and many other statements in our line (saksad dharitvena samasta-sastraih) give a very exalted view of the Vaisnava acarya. One may even conclude that he shares Krsna's quality of omniscience.

The following is a letter I wrote concerning the dangers of this view.


October 27, 1997

Dear Badriji,

Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

I have a pamphlet written by Jadurani dasi (now "Shyamarani didi") on Narayana Maharaja's Western tour last summer. In it is an interesting exchange on a topic that I'm sure occupies a good part of your mental energy. The place is Holland, July 97, last stop on the tour. Amavasya dasi, a co-ordinator of ISKCON'S anti-child abuse committee in Europe, asks Narayana Maharaja this question:

"Srila Prabhupada is a fully self-realized soul and knows everything. So how could he have allowed all the abuse--sexual, physical, and emotional--to have continued for so many years in Iskcon gurukulas during his own physical presence?" She went on to say that it seemed to her that if he did know that the young students, some only four years old, were being literally tortured by their teachers, then how could he have visited Dallas in the mid-seventies and said that the school was okay? If he were not aware of the atrocities, how could he be a self-realized soul? And if he were aware, then was he not being merciless, to say the least?

Narayana Maharaja answered that Srila Prabhupada of course knew everything, just as Krsna knew that the Yadavas would become intoxicated by drinking rice wine and kill one another. Srila Prabhupada also knew everything about the child abuse, and he could have stopped it, but he chose not to.

There's a lot more--in which Narayana Maharaja basically equates Prabhupada with Krsna, who allowed not only the Yadavas to kill one another but also the sufferings of the Pandavas, etc., all for a higher purpose.

[end letter excerpt] ------------------------------

We should consider the enormity of this statement--that Srila Prabhupada knew of the child abuse but failed to do anything about it. Basically Jadurani is saying that Srila Narayana Maharaja said Srila Prabhupada is omniscient, like Krsna, but didn't intervene because the children's suffering was ultimately good for the development of their devotional service!

Some try to explain away this statement by Srila Narayana Maharaja, saying Jadurani dasi misquoted him in the pamphlet. But if she is prone to such devastating and incendiary misrepresentations of his ideas, why is she touted as one of his foremost representatives? Now his followers have suppressed the pamphlet; repeated attempts at procuring a copy of it, either in print or digital form, have met with a stone wall. Could it be that this pamphlet accurately represents Srila Narayana Maharaja's statement in July 1997, or even his present position on this question?

This position is highly offensive to Srila Prabhupada. Here is how Srila Prabhupada answered the question of his omniscience or perfection:


Mayapur morning walk, April 8, 1975

Jayadvaita: [We read in the sastra how the acaryas] know everything and they're perfect in everything. But sometimes, from our material viewpoint, we see some discrepancies. Just like we think that...

Prabhupada: Because material viewpoint. The viewpoint is wrong; therefore you find discrepancies.

Jayadvaita: So we should think that we have the defect.

Prabhupada: Yes. Acarya is explained, bhakti-samsanah: "One who's preaching the cult of devotional service, he's acarya." Then why should you find any discrepancy?

Jayadvaita: Because we see... For instance, sometimes the acarya may seem to forget something or not to know something, so from our point of view, if someone has forgotten, that is...

Prabhupada: No, no, no. Then...

Jayadvaita: ...an imperfection.


Jayadvaita: And that is the perfection.

Prabhupada: That is the perfection. Hare Krsna.

Jayadvaita: So we have a misunderstanding about what perfection is?

Prabhupada: Yes. Perfection is here, how he is preaching bhakti cult. That's all.


Srila Prabhupada is referring here to one of the mangalacarana verses in the Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi 1.13:

advaitam harinadvaitad acaryam bhakti-samsanat

"Advaita Acarya was known as Advaita because He is nondifferent from Hari, and He is known as acarya because He propagates devotional service."

Srila Prabhupada's perfection lay not in his knowing everything but in his perfect devotion to Krsna and his infinite compassion in giving his life to the preaching mission of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. The omniscience fallacy leads to all kinds of philosophical cul-de-sacs and offenses: "Since Srila Prabhupada was tri-kala-jna, he knew everything that would happen in the future, so he must have established a post-samadhi ritvik system for initiations because he knew that his disciples were unqualified and would become too proud and fall down if they could initiate their own disciples." "Srila Prabhupada knew everything that his editors did and didn't do in the publication of his books, so not a single misedited passage should be changed after his departure, even if obviously wrong, because Srila Prabhupada was perfectly aware of all the editing mistakes and approved them." And most offensive: "Srila Prabhupada knew everything that was going on in every corner of his movement, so he must have known about the child abuse but did nothing because he knew that this was all for the ultimate benefit of those concerned."


The Fall of the Jiva

It is well known that Srila Narayana Maharaja rejects the idea that the conditioned souls in this world were once with Krsna in the spiritual world, serving Him with love. This issue has been debated back and forth for years, and after exhaustive consideration of all the evidence, in 1995 the GBC resolved (#79-80):

1. Vaikuntha is that place from which no one ever falls down. The living entity belongs to Lord Krsna's marginal potency (tatastha-sakti). On this we all agree. The origin of the conditioned life of the souls now in this material world is undoubtedly beyond the range of our direct perception. We can therefore best answer questions about that origin by repeating the answers Srila Prabhupada gave when such questions were asked of him:

"The original home of the living entity and the Supreme Personality of Godhead is the spiritual world. In the spiritual world both the Lord and the living entities live together very peacefully. Since the living entity remains engaged in the service of the Lord, they both share a blissful life in the spiritual world. However, when the living entity, misusing his tiny independence, wants to enjoy himself, he falls down into the material world." (Srimad-Bhagavatam 4.28.54, purport)

No ISKCON devotee shall present or publish any contrary view as conclusive in any class or seminar or any media (print, video, electronic, etc.).

80) The GBC suggests that devotees interested in apparent logical contradictions surrounding the "fall of the jiva" read the following paper on the topic, which Srila Prabhupada had sent to devotees in Australia in 1972 to resolve controversies that arose among them about this topic. The paper came as an attachment to a letter from Srila Prabhupada to Madhudvisa dasa dated June 6, 1972.:


Crow And Tal-Fruit Logic Paper [excerpt]

We never had any occasion when we were separated from Krsna. Just like one man is dreaming and he forgets himself. In dream he creates himself in different forms: now I am the King discussing like that. This creation of himself is as seer and subject matter or seen, two things. But as soon as the dream is over, the "seen" disappears. But the seer remains. Now he is in his original position. Our separation from Krsna is like that. We dream this body and so many relationships with other things. First the attachment comes to enjoy sense gratification. Even with Krsna desire for sense gratification is there. There is a dormant attitude for forgetting Krsna and creating an atmosphere for enjoying independently. Just like at the edge of the beach, sometimes the water covers, sometimes there is dry sand, coming and going. Our position is like that, sometimes covered, sometimes free, just like at the edge of the tide. As soon as we forget, immediately the illusion is there. Just like as soon as we sleep, dream is there. We cannot say therefore that we are not with Krsna. As soon as we try to become Lord, immediately we are covered by Maya. FORMERLY WE WERE WITH KRSNA IN HIS LILA OR SPORT. But this covering of Maya may be of very, very, very, very long duration, therefore many creations are coming and going. Due to this long period of time it is sometimes said that we are ever-conditioned. But his long duration of time becomes very insignificant when one actually comes to Krsna consciousness.

[end of GBC resolution excerpt]


A tremendous amount of research has been done on this issue, by Drutakarma dasa and others (all available from Arcita dasa at arcita@webcom.com), and its irrefutable conclusion is that Srila Prabhupada believed and taught that the conditioned souls fell from the spiritual world in the sense of forgetting their former active relationship of loving devotional service to the Lord. This is Srila Prabhupada's teaching on the jiva question, and all his disciples must accept it. It is not just the GBC but Srila Prabhupada himself who enjoins all his disciples to reject any teachings contrary to his. Here is a letter he wrote to Sri Galim in 1971:

"It is not that I disobey my real Spiritual Master and call someone else as Spiritual Master. That is wrong. It is only that I can call Spiritual Master someone who is teaching me purely what my initiating Spiritual Master has taught. Do you get the sense?"

In view of both this quote and the quote from Narottama Dasa Thakura with which we began this paper--"Make the teachings emanating from the lotus mouth of our spiritual master one with your heart, and do not desire anything else"--how can the followers of Srila Narayana Maharaja who are initiated disciples of Srila Prabhupada reconcile Srila Prabhupada's view on the origin of the jiva's conditioned state with Srila Narayana Maharaja's? Shockingly, I have heard that some of them accept the attempt at reconciliation presented in "In Vaikuntha Not Even the Leaves Fall." This is a book written by  Satya Narayana, who has since rejected Srila Prabhupada as even a bona fide spiritual master. In this book, written in 1994 when Satya Narayana was an ISKCON member, he carefully argues that the conditioned jivas have always been conditioned and never were in the spiritual world, and that Srila Prabhupada's teaching that they fell from the spiritual world was a "preaching strategy"--i.e., he didn't believe it himself but felt he had to present this false philosophy for some reason or other. In other words, Srila Prabhupada was supposedly lying to us whenever he taught this idea. In diplomatic language, the GBC dealt with this proposition in one part of the above-quoted resolution:

3. The GBC rejects the speculation that Srila Prabhupada, while teaching about the original position of the jiva, did not mean what he said. The GBC finds this speculation unwarranted, poorly supported, unintentionally offensive to Srila Prabhupada, and, as a precedent, dangerous.

I would say that for a disciple of Srila Prabhupada--such as Jadurani dasi, one of Narayana Maharaja's chief followers--to persist at this point in maintaining that the conditioned jivas didn't fall from the spiritual world is offensive to Srila Prabhupada, period. And for anyone to tout "Leaves" as a definitive explanation of this issue is doubly offensive.


These are some of the dangers of hearing from Srila Narayana Maharaja and his followers.

© CHAKRA 22-May-2000

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