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Article Simply Foolish and Offensive
By Babhru Dasa

I want to add my voice to what I hope will become a chorus of protest against the publication of the graffiti incident in Australia.

When I read the article I was angry and embarrassed. I was angry with the thugs who vandalized a vaishnava's home and threatened further property damage, and which, if carried out, may also lead to the injury and death of persons who have committed their lives to the service of the Holy Name. I was angry that the vandals posed as devotees. I was angry that the differences among groups of devotees cannot be dealt with in even a civil manner, not to mention in the manner of vaishnavas.

I was and remain angry that CHAKRA's staff thought that publishing the article as submitted was some sort of service to the devotees. Such publication could only serve one purpose: to embarrass Srila Narayana Maharaja. As Panca Tattva prabhu said so well, this is in fact vaishnava aparadha. Whether any of us agrees with the manner of Srila Narayana Maharaja's presentation, I don't think anyone could honestly deny that he has dedicated his life to preaching the glories of the Holy Name of Krishna. Nor do I think that anyone who has spent any time with him, read any of his books, or heard any of his preaching could honestly imagine that he would ever condone such behavior. Therefore, to try to embarrass him in such a public way can only be seen as an attempt to vilify a sadhu, the first and most dangerous offense against the Holy Name.

If CHAKRA felt this incident was indeed newsworthy, the editors could quite easily have edited the text to indicate that Venu Gopal's home was vandalized by someone posing as defenders of Srila Narayana Maharaja, and that the graffiti included threats of further, more serious, property damage and coarse language. Why embarrass gentle vaishnavas around the world by confronting them with the language itself? The pictures could also have been shown in a smaller size, or new ones shot from a greater distance, so we could see the extent of the damage, but may not be able to make out the words themselves. It would have taken just a little thought, and perhaps less energy, to have presented this story in a manner more suitable for its audience.

I am embarrassed for everyone connected with the incident and more embarrassed for everyone connected with publication of this story. CHAKRA advertises itself as staffed by "friends of ISKCON." Perhaps they would do well to review Srila Prabhupada's Seven Purposes for the International Society for Krishna Consciousness and consider how this forum may better serve those purposes.

I have privately lamented that World Wide Web forums such as CHAKRA often serve only to spread gossip. Now I do so publicly. This article is neither bold, courageous, or edgy. It is simply foolish and offensive. If we don't learn how to behave as vaishnavas do, I fear Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's mission will not fare well in our hands.

Vaishnava dasabhasa,
Babhru dasa

© CHAKRA 4 March 2001

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