Q: Prabhu, how to distribute books if they are stolen from us by treacherous generals? You see, I’m angry. Isn’t spiritual knowledge so delicate in its conveyance? Don’t we become camp followers by spreading knowledge that has already tainted spots? Isn’t that a trap for others and ourselves? Prabhu, kindly help this lost soul in his confused state, that does not know what to be done and what not to be done.
A: Dear Bolo Gauranga Prabhu, whoever you are. Please accept my most humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!
Assuming that your “anger” is powered by real concern for the purity of Srila Prabhupada’s movement and the maintenance of His legacy, I can only say that such purity would be certainly far more effectively protected if book distribution would be worldwide considered absolute priority as it was the case during Srila Prabhupada’s presence. And so I can only answer as follows:
It is not clear from your text who the “treacherous generals” may be, but I can assure you that within the last forty five years I saw sufficient number of “generals” being shot, wounded or even killed in the battle with the illusory energy of the Lord. Most of my godbrothers, my initial mentors, are either captured by maya, left their bodies already or are for me personally unreachable due to being entirely absorbed by their disciples and the worship they daily receive.
Believe me, I remember all those who helped me on the way as giving me despite their own problems the best they could. Except one exception none of them rejected Srila Prabhupada and to this day they would give me all the support to go out and distribute Srila Prabhupada’s books. So I have no grievances in this regard.
That some became corrupted in their understanding, that some turned to be misleaders and not leaders doesn’t change the fact that book distribution still can go on undisturbed. Speaking regarding Europe, the main preaching field known to me, there are BBT godowns everywhere, some of them filled with aging books, ready to be distributed any time.
I believe to understand your point well. The anger arising when the very same ideals one is living for getting stepped upon and those who oppose hypocrisy end up been ostracized is real. There is nothing wrong with becoming angry. (Srila Prabhupada answered to one of His disciples that “Krsna spoke the whole Bhagavad Gita to Arjuna to make him finally angry and start to fight”:-)
But where do we channel this anger? What is our contribution to Srila Prabhupada’s movement? That’s the challenge. Being simply angry doesn’t seem to be very productive. I also met sankirtan devotees who truly didn’t know anymore where to invite those who would like to join and become active bhaktas in Srila Prabhupada’s mission. Some may not like to read these lines, but I can demonstrate and I can prove that many of ISKCON temples became what Srila Prabhupada feared them to become: lunatic asylums.
Places where the Deities outnumber the residents, places where the most bizarre class of people resides, creating entirely repulsing atmosphere for those who seek dignified way of living while cultivating spiritual life.
There are exceptions, but the absence of active preachers and active leadership in the preaching field can be felt everywhere.
Still…who is stopping us to distribute Srila Prabhupadas books? Who can stop Srila Prabhupada talking through His books?
We used to think that these books change the world. This is entirely true. But what about us who live in this world? Don’t these books also expose our mediocrity and our inability to follow them to the degree we should?
Srila Prabhupada’s books are, as stated right away in the beginning of Srimad Bhagavatam, entirely free of duplicity, they are pure and bold in their defense of ultimate Truth. They cannot be tainted by our imperfection, our collective foolishness and our still prevailing bodily identifications.
But of course, the discrepancy between our immaturity and the perfection of bhakti described in Srila Prabhupada’s books may put the new readers of these books at a test.
What is the test? Either they may conclude that we are just another bunch of hypocrites, just another religion which “preaches water and drinks wine”, (that’s a common sutra critics use :-), or if they are more serious they may start to ask questions. Questions some of our leaders may not be able to answer.
So far my vision goes; cheating people in name of pseudo-Krsna consciousness became more difficult through the years. Maybe one of the reasons not so many join as they used to? Maybe.
Just few weeks ago I had a school class visiting. After a rather simple presentation, one of the boys, obviously well “internet-informed”, asked: “But what about the bad things in your movement?”
I smiled at him and I asked him if he knows any religious movement which is not infiltrated by hypocrites and “black sheeps”. He said of course not. And so I told him that due to the fact that we are an international hospital for people diseased by ignorance and lunacy does he really thinks that the incoming lunatics get cured from one day to another? He said of course not. And so I told him to get a book,(which he did),read the prescriptions from our chief doctor, Srila Prabhupada, avoid association of some still hallucinating so called “Hare Krsnas”, find the honest and introspective ones who enjoy the medicine give to them daily……..and join us in order to get better and help others to get better.
The boy smiled and said: “Well, I will read the book first, but who knows I may do just that”.
And so Srila Prabhupada’s books may have another function,a function I never imagined them to posses forty five years ago: they can also serve as an evidence in order to expose those who may masquerade as members of Srila Prabhupada’s movement, but who became corrupted by their institutional position, by the credit of faith extended to them, their untreated material desires and their exclusive association with those who became diseased in similar way.
So book distribution is the solution after all, nothing can taint the words of Srila Prabhupada and those who rest their case on these words are on safe side.
As time already revealed to us, products of those in possession of “fertile brains”, (Srila Prabhupada’s expression), come and go.
What stays are the law books for spiritual life, sanity and basic human conduct as established by Srila Prabhupada.
And so even in case nobody joins the school due to the lunacy of the teachers, the school books are printed and distributed and we can only hope that on basis of these books new generations of sincere seekers arrive who can maintain better what Srila Prabhupada has given. We should not be illusioned by artificial seniority and be ready to serve such souls send to do what we could not.
I hope this answer is somewhat satisfactory,
your servant Manidhara das