What to do with Narayana Maharaja’s Disciples?

I’ve come across three types of difficult situations in my interactions with the followers of Narayana Maharaja.

1) When a devotee from ISKCON is convinced to join their ranks.

This is the worst case scenario and the subject of heated debates and a lot ill-feeling between ISKCON and NM’s followers. When the devotee is already initiated by an ISKCON guru in good standing, then it’s a disgrace to re-initiate them. Sometimes the devotee convinced to join NM is not already initiated in ISKCON but had been carefully taken care of within ISKCON, in some cases for years and years. If you’re a preacher it’s not a nice feeling. You’ve invested so much time and care with that devotee, and one day they show up and they’ve taken initiation from NM. It happened to me and the woman, later, in tears, begged forgiveness for having taken initiation from NM, but said that she was too fallen to chant 16 rounds a day and she desperately wanted to be initiated. I told her, though, that because she had willingly and purposefully taken initiation from another instititution, that I could no longer help her as before, nor could we engage her fully in our activities. My reasoning was that it would be unethicial of me to act as her siksha-guru, giving her instructions according to ISKCON philosophy and giving her service in ISKCON, as that would likely contradict the desire of her new diskha-guru.

2) When an innocent person gets initiation from NM without having any idea of what’s going on and actually prefers to be in ISKCON.

Because the NM camp have effectively lowered to zero the requirements for initiation, I often come across cases in which people have attended, for the first time in their lives, some public program by the followers of NM, and have left there duly initiated, with kanthi beads and a spiritual name! No vows, no idea what just happened. Personally, I think it’s a sham. An embarrasment to the Vaishnava parampara. I have a member in our small congregation who, after coming to our program for months, told me she was very worried about this flash initiation she had gotten without any idea of what was going on. She said that she wanted to be in ISKCON and to be freed of her connection to the NM camp. I told her that, in her case, the flash initiation was not valid, as she was not informed of what it was at the time. This was a few years ago. She is still with us, coming to our programs and retreats.

3) When a person becomes attracted to KC and willingly takes initiation from NM, but then approaches ISKCON for service and guidance.

It’s nice to see the NM camp actually making devotees, and not just stealing them from ISKCON, but it’s a complicated situation when their members approach ISKCON for spiritual help. Out of mercy and compassion, one should freely give spiritual instructions and engage people in Krishna’s service. But on the other hand, training and guiding these people seems like a bad idea to me because my goal in life is to engage people in Prabhupada’s mission, and I cannot do so with them. I am also left with the feeling that the followers of NM should do a better job in taking care of their own family. When these people approach me, it’s like having to take care of someone else’s children. Sure you want to help the innocent child, but you can’t help thinking that this is the parent’s duty! So, I feel divided between my natural desire to help and my more pragmatic intuition that this is not my job and it will not ultimately please Srila Prabhupada to cultivate members of other institutions.

I’d appreciate more discussion and thought on these points by ISKCON devotees in general, and perhaps some clearer guidance from the leadership.

18 Comments

Filed under Realizations on Krishna Consciousness

18 responses to “What to do with Narayana Maharaja’s Disciples?

  1. This guidance on this from ISKCON leadership seems quite clear. Take initiation from there and you are banned from doing service, and in many cases from any kind of participation in ISKCON facilities.

    • Govinda dasi

      How can anybody be banned from doing service? Thats an oxymoron! If a jiva wants to do service, there is no question of anyone banning her. Not even Krishna will check spontaneous loving service. To even state such thing just shows how little Iskcon devotees know and why it is that Narayana Maharaja makes such impact on those who are lucky enough to want to learn something. Sita-pati das, have you ever even understood the concept of pure devotional service: anyabhilasita sunyan, jana karmadi anavrita, and so forth? My God, unbeliavable!

      • My statement becomes less ambiguous if you separate the two clauses into separate sentences:

        “Take initiation from there and you are banned from doing service in ISKCON facilities.

        And in many cases you are banned from any kind of participation in ISKCON facilities.”

        So I’m talking about “service in ISKCON facilities”. Hope this makes it my meaning clearer.

        Please note that this is not prescriptive – I’m not expressing approval or objection to this policy. It is descriptive – I’m describing the situation as it is.

  2. Anonymous

    Perhaps if ISKCON would stop frying out it’s devotees with all of the politics, devotees would stop leaving ISKCON and joining other groups. In the end, it is really our own fault.

    • Giridhari Das

      I don’t see why politics should have anything to do with chosing a guru. If you don’t like the politics you can: a) work to change it or b) stay away from it and take care of your own life.

  3. Anonymous

    Why should it matter who you take your initiation from as long as we have a link to the Lord? ISKCON is not the only way to go back to Godhead. The Gaudiya Maths existed long before. Nowadays there is so many restrictions just to get initiations. I know of devotees who waited for 8 years to get initiation although they were chanting 16 rounds and following the 4 regulative principles. Why should ISKCON ban people who simply want to serve Krishna? Where is our compassion which is the very mood of Srila Prabhupada.

    • Giridhari Das

      It does matter who you take initiation from, in practical terms of organizing a worldwide Movement. And it certainly does matter very much if a person re-initiates someone from a bonafide guru, for that is offensive and unnecessary. Our compassion is shown by following Prabhupada’s instructions on the standards for initiation and his desire that we bring people to his mission. There is no question of banning anyone from serving Krishna, as initiation is not a pre-requisite of that, nor is there any question of claiming ISKCON is the only way. Any devotee is more than happy to see other Vaishnava institutions bringing people to Krishna consciousness, so long as they are not undermining our own efforts in that regard. With the exception of the NM camp, ISKCON gets along very well with other Vaishnava institutions, because they have mutual respect for one another.

  4. Great way to approach such a subject.
    Didn’t feel it critical nor offensive.

    Thanks a lot.

    Hare Krishna

  5. I prefer to stick to: Good fences makes good neightbour….

    We wish any devotees from any other sampradaya advance in KC. Just do it in your own church….

    hare krishna….

  6. Davey Jones

    One case that many may not think about is those like myself that were burned by one of the many falling Zonal Guru’s in the early 80s. It took me many many years, and while I was a bit misled by the NM Camp, I took initiation there, and now live in fear of being banned. I always was and always be a Prabhupada man. I had no idea I was leaving ISKCON at the time of the initiation. And now I’m begging to become a part of what has always been a part of my life. So not all NM initiates knew what was happening at the time. As for me, I’m not stupid, I researched a good bit and honestly thought I was doing the right thing. I truly had no idea what mess I was creating. Question is how to leave one camp without causing offense to devotees and Guru’s in the other camp.

    • Giridhari Das

      I think your reasons for leaving ISKCON first can be understandable. I also think, though, that you have now even better reasons to come back to ISKCON.

      Here in Brazil we had a similar case. A Prabhupada disciple left ISKCON and took shelter of another math. However, he came back, and now has a prominent position in ISKCON and is well regarded and appreciated.

      You can do the same. You won’t be the first, or the last.

  7. Bhakta Shane

    Jaya Srila Prabhupada

    The fact of the matter is that Prabhupada gave us all a very clear mission and Vani on all levels of Kc
    Prabhupada said his books will last for the next 10,000 yrs and that Krishna personally guided him in this writing – Also that he is present in the Books – many sincere readers will attest to this feeling of Prabhupada’s association – Bhaktivenoda Thakura also poetically mentioned that ” the Vaisnava continues to Live in Sound “-
    Prabhupada also encourages us to Chant daily before Srimate Tulasidevi and in CC , said in one purport to Har Das Thakura Lila ” that one should not miss out on this opportunity , Prabhupada gave us both Temple Seva to diety and Sankirtana
    San maning to bring others into and kirtan the hari kirtan or glorification of Lord Krishna – thus Sankirtana meaning to try bring others into the Kirtan – which is in effect ultimitly
    Srimate Radharani who engages all in Krishna Seva – thus Prabhupada said to Ramsevara Swami that Sankirtana can be likend is like the mood of the gopies – for us this also means a lifetime of dedication and sacrifice in the mission of Caitanya Mahaprabhu , Prabhupada gave us festivals which is non different to the pastimes of Caitanya Mahaprabhu in the sense thst we follow the chanting dancing and taking prasadam feasts –
    In every way Prabhupada gave us all that there is
    and i think its fair enough to say that just as he Ramanuja followers accept Ramanuja as their hero Acarya so in the same way we accept Prabhupada ina similiar mood as his faithful and chaste followers, after all Saraswati Thakura said in time he will do everything – Even some of he learned and Well respected Brigabasi Brahmana said that your Prabhupada he is not an ordinary
    person he is an intimate Associate of Radha and Krishna and as we see specifically empowered to
    establish Kc in the west and make so many devotees and people chant and dance – and dance like anything just see the videos where ever Prabhupada went peopple would chant and dance
    that is the potency Krishna Manifest in Prabhupada as- Sena Pati -military field commader sent by Gauranya Mahaprabhu

    Nowadays so many doubt all these simple blissful things and think that Prabhupada path is to simplistic or lack taste for even the ABCs and that there is something higher and race off to others for so called higher things –

    Prabhupada mission is very clear he said in his early 26 second Avenue lectures in New York that ” he had some to the west to create a class of ideal persons Brahmanas – well versed in the Bhagavad Gita well versed in Bhagavatam and well versed in Caiatanya Caritamrita -first class pucka . Preachers whether Brahmacarya or Householder

    Also Prabhupada said clearly in the 10 canto of Srimad Bhagavatam that it is the mission of the Hare Krishna Movement for everyone to go door to door to offer Kc to others to offer books or prasadam or the holy names to others – As per ones capacity to do so – or in effect – the very same instruction that Caitanya Mahaprabhu gave to the Brahmana who said he wanted to go with Caitanya Mahaprabhu and follow him and Lord Caitanya said stay here chant Hare Krishna and whomever you meet tell them about Krishna

    Also Prabhupada’s Mission Saraswati Thakura’s mission and Bhaktivenoda Thukura’s Brilliant and
    Ingenious visionary revolutionary idea is how everyone can be absorbed in Sankirtana Mission without even taking a single step outside of ones house thru – Nama hatta – inviting people to ones home – having nice bhajans then some class or reading of Prabhupada lila and then some arti kirtan and finally some nice feast – fancy feast – fancy rice curd subjis sweet rice samosa – and other nice Prasadam and one can invite relatives friends and work associates to this home programme – which also helps to nourish the community spirit uplifting others and helping to also break down barriers that at times we create in our rships with others .As Prabhupada said by this chanting we willbecome spiritually happy and successful in spiritual life – Thus where is the lacking –

    Prabhupada gave us everything – and Prabhupada wonderful and beautiful association is still here
    in his books in his lectures in the Dvd recordings
    of Prabhupada taken many yrs ago -And also present in the hearts of those who Follow him
    sincerely and with love to carry our his insructions

    Prabhupada said the faithful follower will continue to live with him thru Vani – and Prabhupada expressed that the Vani is just as important as the Vapuh association –

    This is the Vraja mood Prabhupada came to bring us how to become near and dear to Krishna thru sankirtana mission and how to also as time goes bye become more enclined to study more deeply the books including the books of the goswamis and other relevant books and thus as Prabhupada said in his Jaladhuta Prayers that by hearing this message of the Srimad Bhagavatam the pin pricks modes of rajas and tamas will go from the heart and the devotee will become joyfull and liberated and fixed in KC and will eventually go back to godhead –

  8. Sita Rama das

    I think it is important for devotees in general, like myself, to see any restriction for participating in ISKCON as a pragmatic issue. On a feeling level we should simply pray for all people to become Krishna Conscious. I think we should be careful not to develop a punitive attitude toward followers of NM. We have to do our best to give everyone a chance to serve Srila Prabhupada’s mission. The leaders are often faced with difficult choices on how to best accomplish this.I do not envy them in this regard.

  9. yuga_avatar_das

    Personally i have in depth studied the teachings of Narayanna maharaja ,and find he has taken shelter of certain caste brahmana-sahaja-ism influences !Which are indeed foreign to ”our Prabhupada’s pure teachings”,also contary to orthodox gaudiya understandings.Srila Bhaktisiddanta saraswati thakura ,told his followers not to read and preach from these three books epecially,ujjvalla nilamani,govinda lilamrita and gita govinda.However narayanna maharaja disobeys this order openly!Hence the many accusations that he is preaching something ”alien in nature”!…..In New Zealand we have generally banned his followers because they are openly offensive…..While he seems intent of a hostile takeover of Srila Prabhupada’s position….hare krishna!

    • Acharya thakur das

      Hare Krishna dear devotees

      Thanks Prabhu for an important info of what Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Maharaja mentioned. Do you know by chance the source of it, may be link to the website resource? I’d appreciate it a lot.

      Your servant Acharya thakur das.

  10. LISA

    My parents are initiated in ISKCON, but I respect both Srila Prabhupada and Narayana Maharaj. They were godbrothers and good friends. We are ALL following the Gaudaiya Sampradaya. In Chaitanya’s time there were many groups, not one. And they all got along.

  11. yuga avatar das

    yes we also have narrayanna maharaja followers here in new zealand,however they have split and preach a very different vaishnava siddhanta…..Narrayanna maharaja openly blasphemed Srila Prabhupada in brasil,i have show these videos repeate
    dly to senior devotees,….i have stopped because it serves no genuine purpose now!However i am frequently asked to involve myself to explain his devotees questions,realistically i now send them elsewhere….they have severe philosophical differences which show themselves once the realise there is no more uttama adhikara devotees in there seperate line to guide,best advice is to leave them behind,it was there choice to goi elsewhere!…no they many times are not iskcon or Srila PRABHUPADAS true friends,only sentimental….in my humble opinion!…

  12. yuga avatar das

    That is not to say we should not be merciful……we are part of the Saraswati -chaitanya siksa bhagavata parampara,….hence if they are willing to be submissive ,realising there line suffered from a ”burst of uttama adhikara extremism……. ”,then there is room for individualist traits,but realistically few of them are mature enough philosophically hence there line seems to be no where riight now!….SIMPLY IN MY ZONE….they have simply disappeared!…We had a former godbrother thinking of suing iskcon because we suggested he stop preaching to our devotees how narrayanna maharaja had deviated from our line and common interest!~….my superior instantly banned him from coming to the temple.Srila SRIDHAR MAHARAJA ,Srila Prabhupada s godbrother and siksa guru spoke and wrote severe criticism of narrayanna maharajas team,suggesting some components of the teaching were openly sahajiyaism,so deviation haunts there team,for those whom are philosophically inclined!…my email is yuga_avatar_das@yahoo.com for those wanting to learn more or see me on facebook in new zealand!

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