Vanity thought #733. More on Mahanidhi Swami

I thought I was done with it but then there was this Facebook letter that turned everything upside down and it took almost a week for the devotees to digest it and form a response. I’m no different.

I wish that letter laid the controversy to rest but it doesn’t.

Essentially we are put in “he said/she said” situation. We have GBC telling one thing and maharaj denying it. It is possible that GBC were mislead by the alleged conspiracy but until they admit it we can’t dismiss their conclusions. It’s hard not to believe Mahanidhi Swami either.

GBC hasn’t given us any details to go on – just inappropriate relations with a female disciple and an unspecified philosophical deviation. While disagreements over sexual matters are trivial and even if the worst suspicions are true sexual falldowns can and should be forgiven, philosophical deviations are totally unacceptable. This is where we should draw a line – unbecoming personal conduct is damaging but we are also taught to overlook it, trusting Krishna to purify His devotees in the best way possible, but we don’t have any wiggle room for disagreements over our philosophy.

If we adhere to our process all external failures will eventually go away but if we deviate and invent something unauthorized by our guru then we have absolutely no chance of success, no matter how spotless our reputation might be otherwise.

Unfortunately, maharaj does not address this part of GBC findings. He only says he hasn’t left Srila Prabhupada for another guru.

From his letter it’s clear that Mahanidhi Swami is still determined to attain service to Krishna’s lotus feet. It might be a difficult time for him, there might indeed some inappropriate behavior going on and his reputation is ruined, ISKCON critics are out for blood while he is also losing trust of ISKCON devotees, and in such circumstances it’s impossible not to make any mistakes. What is possible, however, is not to take them seriously and be ready to forgive.

I’m not sure maharaj himself is at the point where he surrenders to Krishna and begs for mercy from all the devotees affected by this scandal. There’s nothing much to do about it until he gets there.

In his letter he basically blames everything on his disciples without admitting any faults of his own. I don’t even know how that conspiracy to frame his guru and cause his falldown could have been carried out. These disciples must be real monsters. Can anyone think of devotees in such a way? I don’t think so, it’s not spiritually healthy.

Obviously maharaj sees them, not his karma, as being behind his troubles, which isn’t a proper Krishna conscious attitude either.

His mind is still unsettled and I wish we didn’t get to see him in this state. Disciples must be really confused, too. We just have to wait it out and stick to what we know from Srila Prabhupada as the only safe harbor for the time being.

We should also avoid the temptation to speculate about what has really happened. I know I have half a dozen theories sloshing around in my head but I’d better keep myself occupied with something else. This episode is obviously the work of Kali Yuga, it generates endless quarrels that spread to all aspects of our society’s life and history, better to stay away from it altogether. If that is impossible then we should concentrate on chanting and hope that these tribulations don’t affect our consciousness.

Personally, I would like to provide whatever support I can to Mahanidhi Swami in discussions about his falldown/resignation but this nagging concern about philosophical deviations is holding me back. I want to be clear on this first – no rasa katha, no sahajiya, no siddha pranali, no dubious association. If he sticks by any of those then he should seek help outside ISKCON, we have nothing to discuss further. As I said, that would be a major letdown.

In his letter maharaj uses phrases like “Bhagavan Sri Krishna” and “my Gurudeva Srila Prabhupada” that do not sound like something we learn in ISCKON. Technically they are correct but if Srila Prabhupada and his followers are not their origin then where did he pick them up from?

Also the whole thing with resignation from the preaching mission is odd. We have sannyasis who can’t travel and preach anymore but none of them resigned form the mission of Lord Chaitanya. Externally maharaj doesn’t look like he lost the ability to preach, just the desire. I know there’s “work now, samadhi later” promise but I don’t think it should be fulfilled this way – by publicly resigning from preaching.

There’s one more thing – I and many others always saw Mahanidhi Swami as ISKCON’s answer to Narayana Maharaj, that it is possible to discuss elevated topics in a proper way, within the boundaries of our society. His falldown sort of put an end to this hope. His letter revived it and now he appears more determined than ever to pursue nirjana bhajan. At Radha Kunda, I assume. There are so many ways it can go terribly wrong.

The only reason to live there, imo, is to preach against babaji contamination and serve as a guide to the visiting devotees. Writing can be done anywhere, Vrindavan is a big place, Radha Kunda is too special for such a generic activity.

Pushing back babaji assault on ISKCON, on the other hand, would be justified. Ananta Das Babaji has thousands of ex-ISKCON disciples and there are several other prominent ones taking on anyone disillusioned with Srila Prabhupada. It’s as if they don’t go to Radha Kunda to worship but to prove Prabhupada wrong or incomplete. It’s not in the spirit of our acharyas to leave them unchallenged.

I’m afraid Mahanidhi Swami is not the man for this job. Well, it’s a big one, can’t expect just any devotee to pull it off, one must be fearless and extremely pure, and really close to Krishna.

Anyway, I think I’ve said enough to last me for a while until new information comes in either from GBC or from the maharaj himself.

Hare Krishna.

PS. I hope the allegations of philosophical deviations are proven to be untrue, I really do. That would be a great loss.

6 comments on “Vanity thought #733. More on Mahanidhi Swami

  1. ISKCON loss is another man’s gain. Mahanidhi Swami is not perfect but why try to stay in a cage? I applaud his efforts to break free for his own benefit. He already was quite rasika and apparently he had reached the stage when ISKCON cage was too small.

  2. Break free for his own benefit? Good luck with trying to enjoy that, I’d rather stay chained to the mission of guru and Krishna.

    There’s an apasampradaya for devotees who think they are greater than their “cages”, it’s called ativada. I hope maharaj is not going down that way.

  3. This is an old post, but I can’t help but point out a fallacy. There is a problem in this movement that people keep a certain idea of what a devotee should be like, and if they don’t fit into that idea, then they are not devotees or are deviant. This mentality is highly dangerous. You said if maharaja engaged in rasa-katha it would be unacceptable, why? The whole point of this movement is to develop a relationship with Krsna. Rasa is fundamental to relationships, it’s fundamental to life in general. Without discussing it, you’re not going to get anywhere.

    The same principle applies to your breaking of the chain comment.

    • Without re-reading this old post – yes, we know what people in our branch of Gauḍīyā vaiṣṇava family should be like and how they should behave, it’s not a fallacy. If one claims to have his own relationships with Kṛṣṇa outside of our family, good luck to him. He can also make up his own rules or interpret scriptures in any way he likes, we don’t care. We don’t do it in our community but that’s just us.

      If one claims to be a part of our family but is not accepted as such by other members – he is an impostor. You can’t claim membership simply by following some rules, you need to be accepted personally, and if that means accepting our common rules and standards, that’s the deal. You can negotiate your personal terms but that also has to be done personally with other devotees, you can’t award membership to yourself.

      Premature indulgence in rasa katha is not recommended, but, as you said, rasa is fundamental to life in general and so that’s the level we can discuss it on safely, not the exalted topics like rasa dance.

      • There’s another point in Nirav’s comment I didn’t address earlier – rasa is for liberated people and relationships with Kṛṣṇa is for liberated people, too – just check the progression in Bhakti-Rasāmṛta-Sindhu or Nectar of Devotion. For us, OTOH, the only reliable spiritual relationship is with our guru, everything else is a product of our sick material imagination. There’s only one rasa in relationships with the guru (or the Deity, for that matter) – dāsya. That’s what we can discuss safely and without limits.

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