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by Gopa Kumara dasa and (name removed)
Dear CHAKRA readers,
I was hoping that someone could give me some advice concerning my extended spiritual family. It seems that there have been some internal family issues going on since our grandfather, Srila Prabhupada, left this world. During any family gathering there seems to be conflict, involving screaming and name-calling. Many times some members of the family are completely barred from attending.
Although my brothers, sisters, and cousins are sometimes warned that they are not welcome to attend, they feel they should attend in order to honor the memory of our grandfather. The worst thing is that sometimes a brother, sister, or cousin will show up at the gatherings and be turned away, humiliated and offended. I can't imagine that this kind of offense is good for the offender or the offended.
I see instances where my brothers, and cousins are turned away, not even allowed to attend festivals and programmes or to take darshan of the Deity. And it is all because we have become afraid of our own kith and kin. Of course, sometimes in our large family we don't always see eye to eye, as with all families, but we should still invite our cousins, however many times removed, over to take darshan of the Deities and to participate in programmes in Their glorification, to remember and respect all of our elders, our fathers, our cousins, our granfathers, and the entire spiritual family that is the legacy of our most merciful great-grandfather, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Maharaja Prabhupada.
Sometimes the problems don't even have to do with those affected. I think that most of the problems arise from differing opinions on significant matters. Although these topics are of a critical nature, I do not understand why we cannot be more flexible and tolerant. When our grandfather was alive he would always make adjustments to make things in the family favorable and to honor his father. Now he is not here to keep the peace and all of my uncles are quarreling with each other. Even when senior family members are traveling in the area they are not invited over. Can you imagine how much of their wisdom we are losing and how offensive and painful it is for our grandfather to see his children rejected?
The family has even gone as far as to reject and offend my father Srila BV Tripurari Swami, which means I and my brothers and sisters are sometimes not welcome either, even when we take pains not to mention our father at all but simply to participate in the festivities like everyone else. My father's first cousin, Srila BV Narayana Maharaja, is quite controversial according to some, although I think he has good intentions. There have been complaints that some of his children are disruptive at family functions, so now none of his children are welcome at all.
I understand that these family issues are real and important, but some things should transcend these surface issues. I want unity in my family, all of my family. Despite the fact that we have no blood relationship with each other, this spiritual family is said to be more real than material blood relations. And it is just so, far more real.
I think the best thing we can do is love and/or respect each other for the sake of our grandfather, Srila Prabhupada, and our great-grandfather, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Thakura. Do you agree? Do you think Krishna would agree? I heard Bhakti devi is very displeased when these kinds of offenses occur and she stops associating with us. Is this true too? Please help us all avoid this.
Gopa Kumara dasa (Albert Varona)
and (name removed)
© CHAKRA 23 October 2001
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