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Bhagavan's Letter, Narayana Maharaja and the Moon Landing
By Georgina

Haribol! All Glories to Srila Prabhupada.

I am an ex-temple devotee, since leaving the temple I eventually went back to university and am now a teacher. I'm also a great follower of CHAKRA and for the last two years this site has informed me, and made me feel closer to the community of devotees. I've not written previously, but during the last years three issues in particular have stood out for me: Bhagavan's Letter; the issue of Narayana Mararaja, and now that of the Moon Landing.

When last year I read Bhagavan's Letter, I printed it out and re-read it several times. I also read the criticism leveled at the content - and it seemed to me that often this criticism went deeper than just deploring Bhagavan's position on current issues, but deploring the fact that he should even attempt such an exposition in the first place!

Bhagavan was the Zonal Guru I followed from 1983 until he left in the summer of 1986, just before the next initiations when I was due for initiation. The shock of his sudden departure is something you had to be there to experience - yes, there were those in the know, but for the majority of ordinary temple devotees it was devastating.

Just as bewildering in the years that followed was the secrecy and silence, and the inevitable rumors of all that had apparently happened to this man. For me, to read his letter, was to hear some of the old voice, not arrogance, but genuine repentance, and a wish for reconciliation.

As an ex-temple devotee, not even I suppose what we used to call a “fringe devotee,” I was joyful to feel him attempting to build bridges, and bring himself closer to ISKCON and the devotees.

What is the use of criticizing his views on topics for which we all have our own ideas anyway? The central point is that after such a fall from a position of responsibility and authority, who knows what conflicts, what shame, guilt and remorse he felt?

I certainly feel in no position to judge, but should any of us? My heart is glad when I hear of anyone, newcomer, ex-devotee, fallen guru - anyone - who comes to take some shelter of Srila Prabhupada’s glorious movement. With all its seeming current problems, ISKCON is still a guiding star in this age of darkness. This man was a preacher par-excellence. Okay, so he couldn’t for all time live up to those high standards of renunciation - all glories to those who can. But he did for a time, and his leadership and preaching was magnificent from the point of view of making new devotees and of encouraging book distribution.

This is the heart and soul I always believed of Srila Prabhupada’s desire - "print books, and distribute them.”

Yes, there was an inordinate drive to collect money. (I was a sankirtan devotee at various times in the 1980's.) Doing “big” was an obsession to be sure, but still a joy and a service. To my mind it was simply part of the predominant ethos and culture of the 1980's - an emphasis on “going for it,” “doing big bucks,” etc.

But look how it was put to use. Look at the wonderful centers of the 1980's, the country and town temples of Europe, the fantastic training center of Caitanya College in Worcester. It was all expansion - new devotees, more and more people getting the books, becoming vegetarian, chanting, coming to the programs, and so on.

Of course, after every expansion in the material plane must come contraction, and perhaps this is some explanation for ISKCON's difficulties in the 1990's. I am no one to judge. Still, I hope that there will in time come again a time of renewed expansion, a sense of purpose, with all lessons learnt. I hope that a new time of blossoming Krishna Consciousness will begin worldwide.

Narayana Maharaja - I'm not qualified in any way to comment, except to say that anything that appears to divide Srila Prabhupada's movement, seems to me, from the outside, to be a misfortune. But this may be misperception.

After all - Krishna is in control, so there must be hope for this disunity to fade and good come out of it.

I've read a few of Narayana Maharaja's lectures, and as he is without doubt a great devotee of the Lord. I offer my humble obeisances to him. Yet, it all seems a different mood to Srila Prabhupada. I don't think I'm ready to hear about Krishna's intimate pastimes in detail.

I don't know how this affects other people new to Krishna Consciousness. I was, however, very pleased to hear of the kirtan to the cows that Narayana Maharaja initiated due to some devotees frightening them. This is very much in the mood of Lord Caitanya, and warms my heart.

I often feel some devotees have an attitude of “don't get too involved” when it comes to animals. They think, “don't assist them, or you will get 'good karma' and have to take birth again!” This is not the mood of Lord Caitanya chanting with the forest animals to deliver them, nor the mood of Srila Prabhupada, who once instructed a devotee to lift a small bug to the safety of a leaf.

I have always enjoyed the company of other creatures on this planet (some would say perhaps more than humans). The greatest service I can do for them is to give them some Maha Prasada, and to chant to them. I hope there are many other devotees who feel the same. So all glories to Narayana Maharaja for this mood of compassion and mercy to the animals (no matter who they were in previous births), for in this age this planet is certainly hellish for the vast majority of them.

One incident was worrying to me however. An old devotee friend of mine took imitation from Narayana Maharaja in 1999, and I've not heard from her since. I got the feeling when I met her at Rathayatra 2000, that unless I was interested in her guru, she was not interested in me as a friend. Actually I had come to Rathayatra to see Their Lordships with a friend, and very joyfuly we both were to see the Deities and the devotees. My old friend (the Narayana Maharaja disciple) said to me, "its no good coming to see the Deities, you must have a guru!"

I mentioned that my friend who was with me had lots of questions, but her only interest seemed to be in getting devotees to come to the meetings of her guru, Narayana Maharaja.

My companion who had journeyed down to London with me was new to Krishna Consciousness, and someone I have often sheltered information of the ruptures in ISKCON so that her faith can grow strong, but remain very enthusiastic. So I said nothing to her of my old friends' comments. I had previously described my old friend to her as someone who was an expert preacher and thus my friend was keen to put questions to her. But there was no chance of that. It seemed as though my old friend had no time fro those who had just come to see the Deities.

So we bought some books and magazines, and my friend remained bewildered as to why this “expert preacher” was not interested in an opportunity to answer questions. Of course I may have misread the situation, but there it is.

Finally, the Moon Landing - the recent articles in CHAKRA have been very interesting and thought provoking. Yes, I have seen that T. V. program, and my doubts about the validity of the moon landing have increased with these discrepancies.

But as one devotee wrote, to talk of a world conspiracy is suspect. If there was a hoax, why didn’t the Russians expose it to hound their enemies? They would have known. They had the technology.

My own view is that since the Moon is a heavenly planet, therefore it is on a higher plane to this gross material one of the five elements. That plane of existence would be quite unperceivable to human sense perception. If they went, then they went to a lump of rock and dust perceivable and discernable to the gross senses.

First of all, it would be impossible for them (as Srila Prabhupada said) in this body to enter the heavenly spheres. Just as the astral planes on this planet exist in parallel to our gross material plane of existence, so on other planets there must be the planet perceived by the gross senses (i.e. the moon as a barren rock, and the Sun as globe of fire).

Secondly, the planet's full opulence, could only be perceivable in a suitable body made of finer and purer elements.

Thanks for the space to comment.

Your servant,
Georgina

© CHAKRA 21-July-2001

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