By Damodara Dasa
Srila Prabhupada is attributed to have said the above – playing on a famous poem by Byron.
ISKCON turns 50 today. And I would like to acknowledge that significant milestone by expressing my gratitude towards this “framework” established by Srila Prabhupada, without which, I and millions of others would not have had access to Krsna consciousness.
That ISKCON, an organisation operating within the material world (but, according to Srila Prabhupada, not exclusively – there is a Goloka/Navadvip branch) to have faults should not be a surprise, nor a legitimate basis for withdrawing one’s support, participation or appreciation.
Just as a material body – even one inhabited by a sincere devotee – is not immune to pathogens or disease, an organisational vehicle operating within the material world, is susceptible to all of the issues that can plague any organisation. For us to become disillusioned or cynical because of these very real challenges suggests a naive idealism or perhaps a “consumer/enjoying mentality.” ISKCON is a gift bequeathed to us by Srila Prabhupada – a framework for associating and cooperating with other devotees in pursuance of offering Lord Caitanya’s benediction to the masses.
Should we be surprised or dismayed that there are some very real challenges in operating such a Society at this current time (Kali Yuga) and in dealing with the exponential growth which continues to typify ISKCON throughout the world, dealing with matters for which we have had precious little training or historical precedents?
Based on the above quotation, Srila Prabhupada was more than aware of the various issues and potential issues that the Society’s members would have to deal with. Apparently, he didn’t see them as a legitimate basis for withdrawing support, participation and appreciation. Serving the spiritual master’s order is not meant to involve comfort and convenience necessarily. Serving cooperatively – in a prevailing environment of discord, division, scandal, intrigue, etc – is tapasya. Putting aside one’s own preferences to serve a higher cause – in this case, the pleasure of the spiritual master.
Much has been published over the years about the Society’s flaws – perhaps an expression of love gone awry – and such focus may serve to distort people’s impressions of what the Society is.
While I am not in any illusion about the very real challenges that the Society still faces, I would like to offer my appreciation for this wonderful gift that Srila Prabhupada has bestowed on me and others and gratitude both to him and to all the devotees who continue to steadfastly serve its purposes for the benefit of the millions who benefit from its work in the world.
– to the heroic souls who joined in the pioneering days and endured various hardships to help Srila Prabhupada get things started
– to those who have taken responsibility to staff and run the temples – places where we can congregate, hear and chant, take darsana and prasadam
– those who take all kinds of risks and inconvenience to introduce the innocent to Krsna consciousness
– to those who take responsibility and risk to help others connect to the parampara
– to those who continue to make Srila Prabhupada’s writings and other media accessible to all peoples
I am deeply grateful and appreciative.
I feel blessed to have come into contact with Srila Prabhupada’s teachings through the agency of ISKCON and its devotees.
And to feel sustained by such sanga and facilities – seeing that gift extended to successive generations of my family.
I feel so grateful to feel welcomed and supported at my local temples.
Long may the Society prosper and become increasingly effective at serving the purposes that Srila Prabhupada intended.
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