As I said yesterday, sometimes it’s very hard to spot outright pretenders or simply deluded souls who wear the guise of advanced vaiṣṇavas. Philosophically, they might say all the right things and you need to know who exactly you are talking to, which is not always possible on the internet.
One way to smell something fishy is when they invoke “no criticism” defense – they cannot be challenged because that could be offensive and we shouldn’t be offensive towards vaiṣṇavas. We should all unite and respect each other, they say. Even if they are doing something suspicious we need to give them the benefit of doubt, for our own sake, nonetheless.
At this point they usually already know their impropriety is being exposed and so they try to censor unwelcome views by any means necessary. What they are actually defending is their own attachments and they want other people to be nice in a sense “be nice to my ego and mind”. That’s not a vaiṣṇava attitude and it’s not what we should expect on the path to enlightenment. If everything is going nice and our ego does not hurt it means we are doing something wrong and our material attachments remain firmly in place. Unless Kṛṣṇa shows up himself in full glory and sweeps us off our feet we will be holding to our attachments and we will feel pain of letting them go. When this happens we should actually be grateful to whoever relieves us from our false sense of comfort and exposes our deep seated material desires. We should not invoke “do not criticize” defense at this point, everything related to us personally is a fair game.
It becomes more complicated when these people say they defend not themselves by their idols. Any vaiṣṇava should feel obliged to stand up for his authorities and warn people not to offend them. What do you say to that? It’s not so easy to find a satisfactory way past such a defense and that’s why I said dealing with these people is difficult. They will stop absolutely at nothing in trying to look kosher.
Let me give an example. There’s this one “devotee” who somehow convinced his followers that he is doing his service with the blessings of his guru. “How could he have done otherwise?”, they think, “he is such an elevated soul, there’s no way he is not acting on his guru’s orders”. Now you can click the link to his “About” page.
First thing is the unusual for vaiṣṇavas posture in his picture. He did not get this pose from anyone in Gauḍiyā sampradāya, he must have copied it off various bogus sādhus. Who does he think he is to offer his blessings like that? The man is barely thirty years old and no one has ever heard of him. What has he got to offer with such exuding confidence?
There’s a long worded history on that page that can be summarized as follows – he was born in an ISKCON family, grew up in ISKCON, was initiated by an ISKCON guru, and everything was going well for him for almost a decade, “till around two years back in 2012, when Acarya Sri started to bring into light to the topmost occidental leadership of that heretic organization – the many theological, ideological and administrative deviancies prevalent in the global organization as a result of not interpreting HDG ACBSP’s teachings according to his (HDG ACBSP’s) previous acaryas and esp. the direct contemporaneous associates of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu viz., the Six Gosvamis – and rather by interpreting those teachings according to the whimsical conjectures of conditioned souls affected by quadruple flaws.”
That’s one long sentence with confusing meaning. It’s not that he simply thinks that ISKCON is a heretic organization but he brought this fact to the attention of our “occidental” leadership, who, as we learn from the last sentence of that paragraph, displayed unjust wrath, and then this unjust wrath “turned into a solid impetus for the formation of BRVF.”
I can understand how his followers might have misinterpreted his narrative and thought that he formed his BRFV on the orders of his ISKCON guru. His guru is of Indian descent but to suggest that he went along with this crazy plan and supported it in defiance of “occidental” leadership is unthinkable. Gopala Kṛṣṇa Gosvāmī is a pillar of our organization and, perhaps, the most western of all our Indian devotees.
Still – see how the doubt that there could be a split between our western and Indian leaders is being sneakily introduced here. Most likely I’m reading too much into it and “Acarya”‘s English is simply playing tricks on him – that sentence was not properly constructed at all and god knows what he actually meant. Now, if the doubt is planted we need to dispel it but how? We can’t possibly disprove such spurious accusations. It’s like trying to prove we are not beating our wives – why would one even think we do? It’s their job to provide some basis for it but in this case there’s no basis at all, not even a hint – but it’s the only plausible explanation if we give him the benefit of doubt.
So, should we be “nice” vaiṣṇavas and give the said benefit of doubt? Hmm, nothing good will come out of it, it’s a giant waste of time. This particular guy does not deserve time spent on trying to expose his various fallacies. Loot at his adopted title, for example:
“Parama Śraddheya Ācārya Śrī RKDB ‘ĀV’ Pr. is the Primeval Life-long President, Managing Trustee & Ācārya of Bhakti Rasa Vedānta Foundation alias BRVF (Bhārata) & its global affiliates as well as the Primeval Editor-in-Chief of Caitanya Nidhi quarterly Hindi periodical of Vaijayanti Productions of HG Puṇḍarīka Gosvāmī of Rādhāramaṇa Mandira in Vṛndāvana.”
“Primeval Life-long President”, huh? How can anyone take this buffoon seriously? Some do, sadly. His latest blog post is titled “How institutionalized irrationally sentimental and blindly fanatic pseudo neo-Gauḍīyas manipulate the classical Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava texts for fulfilling their petty motives!”
There is audience for this type of blasphemy, and he goes for Śrīla Prabhupāda’s translation of Caitanya-Caritāmṛta here, btw, not for BBT editors. He picks up on the translation of CC Adi.10.86 for no reason at all, it simply says what Bengali says:
By the will of the supreme gardener, the branches of Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī and Sanātana Gosvāmī grew many times over, expanding throughout the western countries and covering the entire region.
Somehow he accuses us of interpreting “western countries” to mean Europe and America even though the text clearly talks about the spread of Gauḍiyā vaiṣṇavism prior to the time of writing five hundred years ago, and it restricts this spread to “the entire region” boundaries of which are described in the next verse: “Extending to the borders of the river Sindhu and the Himalayan Mountain valleys, these two branches expanded throughout India, including all the places of pilgrimage, such as Vṛndāvana, Mathurā and Haridvāra.”
Not grasping this simple meaning and ascribing what is clearly not there he calls us “irrationally sentimental and blindly fanatic pseudo neo-Gauḍīyas”? And then they beg us not to be too aggressive in refuting him?
Circus, and a very bad one at that. Earlier posts there are not so open and might come out as rational and academic, and that’s how he catches people’s attention. If you don’t read his “about” page very carefully and miss the occasional diatribes he might appear as a genuine vaiṣṇava. I myself wasn’t expecting such an attack on ISKCON but it came just in time for me when I finally got around to writing about his blog.
No more needs to be said, that man has no spiritual future whatsoever and if his followers still don’t see him for what he is it’s their fault and their conscious choice.