Śikṣā outside ISKCON?

<< Dobut 11 >>

PART THREE - Doubts and Answers
Doubt 11

Doubt 11: ISKCON policy not only forbids taking śīkṣā outside, it also forbids other Vaiṣṇavas to lecture in its temples. Surely inviting guest Vaiṣṇavas to address ISKCON’s members is basic Vaiṣṇava hospitality.

Answer: Ideally, if Vaiṣṇava guests follow the etiquette befitting a guest, the Vaiṣṇava host happily follows the etiquette of a host — receiving visitors as representatives of the Lord. Because a respectful guest never exploits his host, the host offers a place to sit, nice prasādam, daraana of the Deities — and, possibly, an invitation to speak.

But guests who do not behave properly,(52) even they be Vaiṣṇavas, may not be welcomed without restriction. The host society need not, in the name of etiquette, submit its resources for its own undoing. Such is the practice among Vaiṣṇava societies.(53)

Śrīla Prabhupāda once banned his own senior Godbrother.(54) Later Prabhupāda relented, allowing the man to visit the temple, but still not lecture.(55) What to speak of outside Vaiṣṇavas lecturing, Prabhupāda was unwilling to even meet one “heinous” Godbrother, should that Godbrother come to visit him.(56) That is the history.

Unfortunately, ISKCON’s members, in general, are untrained in the intricacies of inter-society diplomacy (there is such a thing), and so are easily intimidated by unscrupulous guests, who take advantage for their own purposes — I am sorry to say. Therefore, Prabhupāda wanted the Society’s leaders “vigilant”(57) to protect the Society and its members.


52This refers to the other Vaiṣṇavas cited throughout this paper, whose inability to represent Prabhupāda, and whose constant criticizing, direct or indirect, makes them less than well-behaved guests.
53Having passed through their own histories, Vaiṣṇava societies have evolved a system of inter-institutional rapport that avoids compromising the allegiance of their members and the values of their societies. On the other hand, to their own detriment, ISKCON’s members often follow an all-or-nothing policy. In his last days, Prabhupāda formed the Bhaktivedanta Swami Charity Trust (see Conversation, Vṛndāvana, October 29, 1977) to help unite the Sarasvata family, while at the same time warning his disciples of the risks of close association. He expected ISKCON’s members to learn the balance of association.
54When, by the instigation of a Godbrother, standing orders of Prabhupāda’s books were cancelled, he instructed a letter be circulated in the Society, “Still, he is so envious, black snake. So one circular letter should be issued to all our center(s), that ‘Any B or anyone, his representative, should not be received.‘ They are envious. Yes. Quoting that. We have got several complaints like that. S also complained. Sometimes our order was cancelled by B’s propaganda.” (Conversation, Johannesburg, October 16, 1975)
55Prabhupāda instructed, “On the whole, if his motive is to suppress me and that is why he has come here, how we can receive him? He has already given one Professor a wrong impression. He may be treated as a guest, if he comes to our center, give him prasadam, honour him as an elder Vaiṣṇava, but he cannot speak or lecture. If he wants to lecture, you can tell him that there is already another speaker scheduled. That’s all.” (Letter, Honolulu, June 4, 1975)
56This is recorded in a letter: “Regarding the matter with P dasa, you immediately go and take back whatever books of ours that he has in his possession. You may inform him that we do not require his editing, neither should he correspond with our men in Los Angeles. He is a very heinous man. He wants to become more important. ... You take them back immediately. If this man comes to see me in Vṛndāvana, I do not wish to see him.” (Letter, Bombay, November 7, 1975)
57See Conversation, Vṛndāvana, May 27, 1977.
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