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“If one gets proper guide, then that is happiness. Otherwise there is no happiness. Sri-guru-carana-padma, kevala-bhakati-sadma. So fortunately we got right guru. He has given us the way how to live, and that is happiness.”

Srila Prabhupada

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An Open Letter to Srila Narayana Maharaja and His Followers
By The Undersigned 40 Shareholders and Residents of Saranagati Village, BC, Canada

In 1974, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the Founder-Acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), introduced daily guru puja in all ISKCON centers, a tradition that continues today. During these guru pujas, Srila Prabhupada's followers offer arati to Srila Prabhupada and sing Srila Narottama dasa Thakur's Sri Guru-vandanam to him. From time to time Srila Prabhupada emphasized the significance of this song. In Vrindavan in July 1977 Srila Prabhupada said, "If one gets proper guide, then that is happiness. Otherwise there is no happiness. Sri-guru-carana-padma, kevala-bhakati-sadma. So fortunately we got right guru. He has given us the way how to live, and that is happiness."

We take Srila Prabhupada's position in our lives with great seriousness. For us his lotus feet are the only abode of pure devotion; he is our master birth after birth. To the degree that we have unflinching and implicit faith in Srila Prabhupada's word and deeds, to that degree we have attained the greatest wealth human life has to offer. Srila Prabhupada saved us and therefore our faith in him and our loyalty and devotion to him is for eternity. He is bringing us back to Godhead.

Devotees who enrich and strengthen our bond with Srila Prabhupada offer us a priceless gift and we revere such devotees. Srila Prabhupada instructs, "There is no difference between the shelter-giving Supreme Lord and the initiating and instructing spiritual masters. If one foolishly discriminates between them, he commits an offense in the discharge of devotional service." (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta Adi-lila 1.47 purport.) At the same time, Srila Prabhupada expects us to use the light of his teachings to reflect on issues with care. He says, "Sometimes a diksa guru is not present always. Therefore one can take learning, instruction, from an advanced devotee. That is called the siksa-guru. Siksa guru does not mean he is speaking something against the teachings of the diksa guru. He is not siksa-guru." (Srila Prabhupada Bhagavad-gita lecture 4/7/74 Honolulu, Hawaii.)

In the specific case of Narayana Maharaja and his followers, after careful study and discussion, we are impelled to make these points:

1.Krishna attracts different people's hearts differently. We do not expect everyone to share our understanding and, while we respect all others, we do not necessarily share their understanding.

2.Since, by the causeless mercy of Krishna, Srila Prabhupada has given us everything we need to perfect our lives, including siksa gurus, we request Narayana Maharaja and his followers not to canvas us in any way, overtly or covertly, either now or in the future, in Saranagati Village, at ISKCON Vancouver, or anywhere else.

Kindly forgive any offenses we have inadvertently committed. Our desire is to not create division but to strive for Vaisnava maturity, wisdom and mutual inspiration.

Yours in the service of Srila Prabhupada,

Signed by devotees of Saranagati Village Holdings, Inc. and ISKCON Vancouver.

© CHAKRA 31 March 2001

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