Vanity thought #1639. Nowhere is safe

This week had brought as a great deal of turmoil in the unlikeliest of places – Māyāpura itself. I won’t even pretend I know what’s going on there, all I have is what was released on hostile news sites. Our trusted Dandavats decided not to report anything. I don’t know if it’s a wise decision in the long run but not agitating devotees who are far away from the problem seems like a good idea when tensions are still high.

Details are scarce, all we know is that one Indian devotee was in charge of collecting funds for TOVP and now he isn’t, though there also was an announcement that it’s his “adversary” who is out and the Indian devotee got a promotion for his troubles. At this point I don’t know what the facts are and how to separate them from rumors. There are letters presenting each side of the story but I’m not sure we can trust anything even it’s got a letterhead on, not after that NA GBC letter on banning Bhakti Vikāsa Svami’s book.

Access to official stationery gives one appearance of power and authority but it’s just an appearance until all the facts are in and judgement has been passed. This gives people a window of opportunity to push their own agenda under official cover and hope that when dust settles no one would care very much about misuse of letterheads and stamps. Politically it’s a shrewd move but why should we care about politics unless it’s our duty? If someone gets this apparently unfair advantage why should we be envious? Kṛṣṇa fulfills all desires, especially for those who are dear to Him, so no one would be able to actually abuse his position without Kṛṣṇa’s permission. Somehow or other the Lord lets it happen, who are we to demand amendments or justice? Law of karma is just enough, we can’t improve on it.

Anyway, it appears that it was a clash of two egos, each devotee thinking that he does a great service for Lord Caitanya and Prabhupāda, certainly greater than “that other guy”. When devotees openly try to cut down each other’s egos it’s a sad sight and an argument no one can ever win, no matter the outcome. Then other people got involved and it was all downhill from there.

Apparently one female devotee felt strongly about injustice, got a stick in her hand and set out for the temple. By the time she arrived she cooled off and posed no threats to anyone whatsoever, she just went inside and did her worship. Those who have heard of her approach, however, were already out looking for blood, or to defend what is right – depending on your perspective.

A large crowd gathered, people were giving angry speeches, some devotees needed to be whisked away for safety, some were rough handed, no one was injured, though. Temple security was there, then the police showed up, and that’s when we should all realize that we screwed up and put shame on Prabhupāda’s legacy – in the spiritual heart of our movement we need outside police to come and separate feuding parties. Have we forgotten how to behave like vaiṣṇavas?

One could say that it’s Kṛṣṇa līlā, that He did a similar thing with his own Yadu dynasty. Maybe so, but Yadus were completely wiped out and Dvārakā sank to the bottom of the ocean – we are not ready to go down that road yet, our TOVP is not even finished.

So far the only reasonable explanation I have is that it’s Kali Yuga (duh!). What’s unusual about it is that Māyāpura is supposed to be safe with all the chanting that goes on there but turns out that it isn’t and the influence of Kali penetrated it just fine.

Instead of talking about people and events we can contemplate the background situation and how it eventually allowed for lower guṇas to spill out. It’s my personal opinion that does not do justice to the entire Māyāpur project but I think it captures at least some of its aspects that we can try to avoid in our own lives.

Māyāpuya has become too big and too comfortable for its own good. For decades devotees flocked there not so much in search of peaceful chanting but to prove that they “made it”. Earning yourself a place there is a major devotional achievement, a sign of recognition by higher powers, it doesn’t come easy and people would make huge sacrifices to secure themselves a position there.

Our management got ideas from materialists and their business practices and made everyone in Māyāpura earn their own upkeep. On one hand it was a right idea – Māyāpura is not meant for idling about and we had no shortage of wannabe renunciates who’d be very happy to avoid any service AND live in the holy dhāma. They should have been weeded out, no doubt about that. The downside was that people could only stay if they made money. No money, no honey.

The whole project was compartmentalized and each department had to prove its own worth. If they couldn’t they were out. They could collect donations, they could provide services, they could sell stuff, they could charge for match making and horoscopes, they could develop real estate, but if they didn’t make money no one was gong to maintain them. It did wonders for the bottom lines and made the entire temple very very rich but it also made people invest too much sweat into building their nests and when their income comes under threat they are not going to take it with humility. We just can’t expect them to be aloof and detached after all they had to do and with all their responsibilities. Their egos grow proportionally, too.

The devotee in the center of the scandal claims to have collected tens of millions of dollars for Māyāpura. We are not talking rice and dhotis here, we are talking serious business. It would have been nice if he and everyone who depended on him took it in stride but we can’t really expect that to happen.

Sad to say, but Māyāpura has become too materially advanced for letting things go, it’s not for simple living and high thinking anymore. Should it even be? With TOVP we are not even aiming for simple living, we want to impress the hell out of everyone who goes there. It’s the eternal problem with preaching – devotees have to walk the edge, constantly under threat of developing attachments for the things that are meant only to impress others. It’s not an easy job and someone has to do it, so what if they fail? We should appreciate the effort instead.

Having said that, I don’t want this particular kind of aggravation in my life, I’m more into simple living right now. Maybe I’m misusing my body but I just don’t feel capable of getting too closely involved with things that bring temptations. Other people’s situations are different, to each his own.

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