Vaisnava Etiquette

BY: PRAHLADA NRSIMHA DAS - 25.8 2017

We all agree with this natural principle of Vaisnava etiquette which was given to us by Srila Prabhupada, the acaryas and the Sastras. This idea is not specific to our tradition. In any society there exist principles of courtesy. We don't speak to an old person in the same way that we speak with some young ones. A different respect is given because of this etiquette. It does not mean that we become blind. If this person proves him (her)self to be problematic and abusive, we will put some distance between him and us. If, in spite of that, this person goes on or increases his disturbing activities, the etiquette will become almost forgotten. We are dealing with reality and this reality is more important than any other consideration. We will not let an old person abusively touch our young children, for instance, and tolerate that, only because of the respect due to seniors.

Therefore, true Vaisnava etiquette is very nice but much less when it has been hijacked! The issue is that many have developed much more love for this etiquette, when this one is favorable for them and their confort, than they have developed for Krsna...

We can not say that those persons, who take abusive advantage of this established privilege, are not good persons or devotees. But they are all that, only on the strict condition that you respect their abuse in this field and accept to give an absolute priority to their beloved principle. And therefore, to put, if necessary, this etiquette above Krsna Himself, Krsna's interest, Srila Prabhupada's interest and our own and people's best interest. If you touch, even a little bit, this "sacred" privilege, even for very good reasons, immediately, those devotees can become real demons! Ahankara makes his divine appearance. I propose to the GBC to add one more festival to our calendar: the "ahankara celebration". With all the use which has been made of it by many old Prabhupada's disciples in ISKCON since 1978, I believe that ahankara prabhu deserves it. To be ungrateful is never auspicious at all...

All my life long, I have seen that. The French yatra was ONLY based on the principle of how old you were in ISKCON. Did not matter your real spiritual value, all the system and attribution of authority and positions was based on that, with very few exceptional episodic and very well-controlled exceptions. Now, we can see the result of it in our devastated yatra. We had, more or less, to accept and to bow down in front of the silliness, pride and lazyness of our elders. Etiquette had become God.

When "old" devotees were coming from other countries, we could see that the same system was in place. This new caste system had taken the place of the abusive smarta-brahmanas' one. Those people (but of course, there are exceptions) have fully developped etiquette-prema without much effort. Jayadvaita Swami was and is certainly not the last one in this competition. His false ego is never very far, like a crocodile in the river.

The issue is that we are supposed to and want to practice Krsna Consciousness, and not "old capricious absolute-respect-demanded fellows" cult. And we cannot just throw the baby through the window! We have a responsibility for Krsna, for Prabhupada, for the Parampara, for the devotees and the people, and for ourselves. We are not speaking about a soccer team and club which, if it disappears, can be replaced by another one.

But because their ISKCON system, for a long time, is based on that, and because those people became very hardened to that, generally devotees have to accept it or to leave! Their system is established in such a way that the leaders always keep control. Like for the recent mock little seminar they made about the changes in Prabhupada's books. Which was presented in the official ISKCON newspaper. We cannot say that all Dravida das was saying was uninteresting but, from the very beginning, everything was arranged so that Dravida das and Garuda das kept control. Everything is always like that. You can speak but with shyness, and only in the time which will be granted to you. And of course, if your arguments are not too much intelligent... All other cases are considered to be in passion and you will have to stop or to immediately leave. If you add to all that their "Vaticanal" make-believe that Krsna's and the Parampara's mercy is coming down from the spiritual world ONLY through the GBC, they get a more complete control on newcomers. And many others.

But the goal is to reach the pure spiritual level. For everyone.

Anyway, in the old Greek tragedy, the city of Troie was still said to be unconquerable one day before it was conquered. Material power is nothing in front of spiritual power. Spiritual power goes directly to the source, where material power, when it is out of its normal material context, loses its time and energy in the meanders of its endless hesitations.