I was listen to the Youtube memories of Srila Prabhupada. Gurudasa Prabhu said that Srila Prabhupada would deal with problems right away. He brought the devotees together and discussed the concerns in the open. He didn’t let the problems persist. 

Here is the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2GtkF9k8wyQ&feature=related


This if from Hrdayananda Maharaja

Inevitably in every religion there will be a theological divide between those who seek to combine philosophy and religion, as Prabhupada recommended, and those who feel that religion without rational consideration is better. Prabhupada taught us that we need reasonable devotion, and devoted reason. Otherwise, in the name of glorifying Prabhupada, some devotees drift into fanaticism and sentimentalism. And in the name of reason, others lose their understanding of Prabhupada’s unique contribution.

From the ancient text, Srimad-Bhagavatam: 11.14.9

O best among men, the intelligence of human beings is bewildered by My illusory potency, and thus, according to their own activities and whims, they speak in innumerable ways about what is actually good for people.

PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada

Unlike the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the individual living entity is not omniscient, therefore his activities and pleasures do not represent the whole truth. According to one’s individual way of doing things (yatha-karma) and one’s personal preference (yatha-ruci), one speaks to others about what is good for them. Everyone thinks, “What is good for me is good for everyone.”

We tend to see things through the lens of our own experiences, realizations, studies and so on. It is rare that we connect/empathize with others and truly understand their needs and their way of seeing the world.

Of course as devotees we understand that everyone needs Krishna, but even our path to Krishna may not be exactly the same as others.

As presenters of Krishna consciousness we should listen to others to know which part of our Krishna conscious philosophy best suits the interests of an individual. In 1972 Srila Prabhupada wrote to a disciple suggesting that his presentations of Krishna consciousness would be successful if he was “…always tolerant of others and appreciated their points-of-view.”

How important then is empathy for a Krishna conscious mediator. We generally don’t advise, but our work is aided by neutrally developing empathy towards the individual parties we are working with. That requires seeing things less from our viewpoint, and more from theirs. That is the opposite of the yatha karma, yatha ruci mentioned in the above purport.


“Failing to conquer this irrepressible enemy, the mind, whose urges are intolerable and who torments the heart, many people are completely bewildered and create useless quarrel with others. Thus they conclude that other people are either their friends, their enemies or parties indifferent to them.” Srimad-Bhagavatam 11.23.48

In my years of trying to help solve disputes in ISKCON, I find that the most painful experience for a devotee is what we might call “friendly fire”, being criticized and minimized by another devotee.

Devotees can tolerate many difficulties from those “outside.” If fact, some devotees thrive on the challenges they face while trying to spread Krishna Consciousness to those who don’t understand us or want to see us go away. That’s to be expected in this world.

But what is truly discouraging is criticism from within. Sometimes we say other’s are “off”, or we say the program they are running is ineffective/bogus/just hype, and so on. That is terribly painful to the devotee doing that service.

The only real possession for a devotee is whatever sincerity they can muster up in Srila Prabhupada’s service. And even though the person criticizing may not be questioning the other’s sincerity, it is often taken that way. The result: We feel discouraged, we sometime lash back at the critic, and often we think: “I’m doing all this hard work, and all I’m getting is questioned and criticized. Is it worth it? Is serving in ISKCON worth it?”

Of course there are times when what we do is bogus or wrong. There are cases that are clearly right or wrong. Such instances should be dealt with properly.

I’d suggest, however, such instances are less often that we may suspect.We often going about our activities according to our abilities, our conditioning and our realizations of how to apply Krishna consciousness according to time, place, and circumstance. Another devotee who has different abilities, conditioning and realizations observes us and criticize because they do and think differently than us. We may think it is a question of absolute right and wrong-that we are right and they are wrong-but that is debatable. At least we should err on the side of safety, and not jump prematurely to the conclusion that the other Vaisnava is wrong.

Instead of absolute right-ness and wrong-ness, what generally occurs is that one party sees the good in their own viewpoint and the error in the other’s. They fail, however, to see the weakness in their outlook and the strengths in the other’s. Thus, what they see is correct (the upside of their views and the other devotee’s downside), but it is not complete. And because there is some correctness to their view, they are convinced they are right even though they are missing out on the whole picture.

In this regards, I suggest that we avoid “triangling”, gossiping to a third person about the alleged shortcomings of another. It is such a drain on our consciousness, it may be an offense, and it’s certainly a misuse of our concern for the other person. Better we talk directly to person. Perhaps something like this: “Prabhu, could you help me understand why you are doing such-and-such?”

Or we can talk to an authority about our concern. Or we can approach a neutral third party, perhaps an ISKCONResolve ombudsman. They can help facilitate communications between the differing devotees.



I wrote an entry on “Friendly Fire”. An edited version of something I wrote on the topic some years ago and posted on Dandavats. Unfortunately, my hard drive just crashed so it will take me a few days to re-edit that entry and post it. Sorry for the delay!

This quote is from the Mahabharata. The context is that the Vrsnis and Lord Balarama wanted to defeat Arjuna after he took away Subhadra so he could marry her. Krsna speaks these words after telling them they can never defeat Arjuna, so they should work out an agreement instead of fighting.

Of course Krishna says different things in different contexts. He doesn’t always say “there is no defeat in reconciliation” in the Bhagavad-gita. Still, the statement is something to consider. We can get so absorbed in winning and defeating the other person that we lose sight of any win-win possibility. And there are often such possibilities that go unexamined.

Srila Prabhupada often told his disciples to work things out amongst themselves. Here is one example:

“You have dedicated your life for Krishna and therefore you should be ideal. We are introducing Krishna Consciousness movement for the harmony and good will of humanity. But if you yourselves are suffering from the very ills we are trying to remove, how can the people be influenced favorably? Stop this fighting, tolerate.”

Reconciliation is not always possible, but it is certainly a good starting point in most disagreements.