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Narayana Maharaja and ISKCON
By Pancha Tattva Dasa

Let me begin by asking forgiveness if I offend anyone with the contents of this article. I mean no offense, but I know that the subject of Narayana Maharaja is a source of ferocious contention in various circles. I especially want to ask those devotees who are disciples of His Holiness Narayana Maharaja not to read further, since some of my own comments will be regarded as critical. Please understand that my observations are made in reference to Narayana Maharaja's relationship with ISKCON and his self-proclaimed advocacy of Srila Prabhupada, and have no bearing on his personal stature as an eminent Vaishnava.

I have been following (and participating) in the series of CHAKRA articles concerning Narayana Maharaja. The recent submission by Prithu prabhu and the response by Atul Krishna prabhu were very interesting.

Although I have already taken a hard stand against an earlier article which tried to tie the actions of some vandals to Narayana Maharaja, I must agree with Prithu prabhu: 'Narayana Maharaja does things very differently and teaches very differently in many areas from what we have been told by Srila Prabhupada - even though he is claiming to be Prabhupada's disciple.'

Atul Krishna says that the GBC papers concerning Narayana Maharaja are full of falsehoods. What falsehoods? Maharaja is actively proselytizing among ISKCON devotees, touring ISKCON temples, and has reinitiated a number of devotees who are already initiated by gurus who are members of ISKCON. Sparing the details, we even had an instance of this in Alachua, Florida. If it wasn't for the brave challenge issued by one Prabhupada disciple to Narayana Maharaja, the initiation would have stood. As it was, Narayana Maharaja had to "withdraw" the initiation in the face of the devotee's challenge. Papers published by devotees such as Badrinarayana prabhu are very much like the action of this one brave devotee: they are meant to clarify the differences between Narayana Maharaja's preaching and that of Srila Prabhupada, so that members of ISKCON will not be led away from their fidelity to the teachings of Srila Prabhupada.

I regard ISKCON's actions and official writings concerning His Holiness Narayana Maharaja to be, for the most part, appropriate. However, I detect in the behavior and writings of some of the most zealous followers of Narayana Maharaja a very critical, offensive, and bellicose attitude. I have personally received correspondence from initiated Narayana Maharaja followers who have said that "every guru in ISKCON is fallen" and "ISKCON gurus should be happy if Narayana Maharaja reinitiates their disciples." Such foolish and blasphemous remarks only reinforce the notion that Narayana Maharaja is teaching something different from Srila Prabhupada, and they make serious followers of Srila Prabhupada want to avoid Narayana Maharaja all the more.

If one of our own ISKCON leaders started preaching along the same lines of Narayana Maharaja - i.e., relaxing the standards for initiation, questioning or dismissing instructions by Srila Prabhupada, etc. - he would be summarily removed from his position, censured by the GBC, and possibly ejected from ISKCON if he did not mend his ways. In light of this, the actions and instructions of the GBC in reference to His Holiness Narayana Maharaja have been very mild and reserved. Were Maharaja a "member of ISKCON," then dealings with him would likely have to be very stern. It is best if he stays outside, running his own organization, and leaves ISKCON alone. Then the mutual respect between Vaishnavas in different camps will not be disturbed. As things stand, as long as Narayana Maharaja continues to reinitiate members of ISKCON and gathers to himself persons who are hateful and envious toward ISKCON, and as long as he promotes points of view that are contrary to Srila Prabhupada's teachings while identifying himself as Prabhupada's follower, the disturbances will continue.

Your servant,
Pancha Tattva Dasa

© CHAKRA 8 April 2001

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