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Chapter 108: Relationship Between Guru and Disciple

Śrīla Prabhupāda Uvāca 108
Relationship Between Guru and Disciple

February 1975, ISKCON Honolulu

After six months in India, Śrīla Prabhupāda returned to the West by way of Hawaii. He remained in New Navadwipa for one week. It was a very eventful stay. There was a great deal of agitation at this center because of the differences between the local authorities and that of Siddha Swarupa Ananda Goswami. The complaint was that Siddha did not follow ISKCON's authority. Objections were brought to the attention of Śrīla Prabhupāda's secretary, Paramahāmsa Swami. He went to Śrīla Prabhupāda and explained some of the difficulties that were taking place.

"So, bring Siddha Swarupa and we will have a meeting," Śrīla Prabhupāda instructed.

The meeting took place in Śrīla Prabhupāda's quarters and was attended by Śrīla Prabhupāda, Siddha Swarupa Mahārāja, Paramahāmsa Mahārāja, Nitai prabhu, the temple president and myself. A pleasant breeze came through the numerous open windows in Śrīla Prabhupāda's cheerful sun-filled room. There was a skylight above his desk. Śrīla Prabhupāda always enjoyed his visits to New Navadwipa. This visit was no exception.

Śrīla Prabhupāda did not waste time with formalities. After everyone was seated on the floor he unemotionally looked at Siddha and objectively stated, "So, the devotees here have some complaints against you."

"What is that, Śrīla Prabhupāda?" Siddha said smiling.

"One thing. Why you do not shave your head?" Śrīla Prabhupāda asked.

"If I shave my head then sometimes I get a cold," Siddha replied.

Śrīla Prabhupāda began chuckling.

"In Hawaii, you get a cold?" he asked.

"Sometimes, Śrīla Prabhupāda," Siddha said.

"Then you can wear a hat," Śrīla Prabhupāda suggested. "Then you will not catch cold. You are a sannyasi. Other people are watching. It is important that you set a good example."

"Also, you do not carry your danda?" Śrīla Prabhupāda continued.

"Well, they don't usually let me carry it on airplanes, so it becomes difficult to travel around with it," Siddha said.

"We have so many sannyasis," Śrīla Prabhupāda said. "Everyone is carrying their danda. Paramahāmsa, he is carrying a danda. He brings it on the plane."

"Well, I have had many problems trying to get my danda on the plane," Siddha replied.

Śrīla Prabhupāda calmly moved onto the next point of contention. Each issue became more serious.

"They say that your followers, they do not come here to see me," Śrīla Prabhupāda said. "That they only see you. They only hear from and deal with you. They won't come here?"

"If they want to come, they can come," Siddha said.

Śrīla Prabhupāda quickly replied in a more authoritative voice.

"But, this is your business," Śrīla Prabhupāda said. "It's all right they may worship you if they like you very much. That's all right. But your business is to bring them to me. You are my disciple. The duty of the disciple is to bring the devotees to the spiritual master. This is your business. Your preaching should be like this. If your preaching does not bring them to this point, then it is useless."

"This is probably my defect," Siddha replied. "My preaching is not so good. Therefore, they are not coming. But, what can I do but try to preach to them."

"Well, if your preaching is insufficient, then better not to preach," Śrīla Prabhupāda told him.

As things became quiet, a wave of courage washed over me. To keep the conversation moving I said, "Śrīla Prabhupāda, I have one observation."

"Yes, go on," he said nodding in approval. Mahārāja was giving the class. He was sitting along side of your Vyasasana and one of his people came up with a fresh flower garland and placed it on Siddha Swarupa. When I saw it happen, my mind became disturbed. In my opinion the garland should have been

"For example," I said. This morning in the temple room. Siddha Swarupa put on you, as there was no garland on your picture on the Vyasasana. I would think that the garland should have been put on the Vyasasana first."

"He has a good point," Śrīla Prabhupāda said, turning to Siddha. "That is correct. It is all right, they may have wanted to put it on you, but you should have directed them to put it on my picture."

Śrīla Prabhupāda finished the discussion and did not belabor any point. He straightforwardly addressed the issue of following the instructions of the spiritual master and the relationship between Guru and disciple This final point wrapped up the meeting. We all offered obeisances and left the room of our Divine guide and loving Gurudeva. The next day Siddha Swarupa Mahārāja again visited Śrīla Prabhupāda. Siddha Swarupa gave Śrīla Prabhupāda a $10,000 donation that one of his followers had given to him. This demonstrated his understanding of Śrīla Prabhupāda's instruction

My dear Gurudeva, you are the perfect transparent via medium to your Guru Mahārāja. You always accept service on his behalf. Because you were the perfect disciple, you are completely qualified as the perfect spiritual master. You pass on the devotion and adoration of your disciples to the lotus feet of your Guru Mahārāja. Śrīla Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Mahārāja passes the fruits of your devotion to the lotus feet of his Guru Mahārāja. And so it goes from Guru to Guru within the paramapara up to the lotus feet of Lord Sri Kṛṣṇa.

I humbly pray to remain connected to your lotus feet always remembering you are eternally my Lord and master. Except for your causeless mercy, my life has no value or qualification. I beg that you allow me to eternally spread your glories. I pray to swim in the ocean of bliss that is available by remembering your eternal lila.