Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Thakura
Srila Bhakti Vedanta Swami Prabhupada
Tridandi Swami Bhakti Hridaya Vana Maharaj
Akinchan Krishnadas Babaji Maharaj
Avadhuta Ramesh Babaji Maharaj
Memories of Srila Prabhupada
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(C) 1995 by Richard S. Brown
All rights reserved.
Dialog On Gaudiya Matha Life
By Richard Shaw Brown
By Hrsikesananda das and several devotees.
QUESTION: Would you please give us some insight, for those of us who never
lived inside the Gaudiya Math, on how women were seen from the inside
of the Math. Were they allowed freedom inside the Math to walk around
say or limited to certain areas like the Temple Room?
---Hd: In Gaudiya Math, devotees know from Lord Chaitanya that a brahmacari
or sannyasi should not even see the "wooden form" of a women
if he wanted to remain celibate. Women were NEVER allowed to reside in
any Math and NEVER came inside the ashram compound except to take darshan
during temple opening.
Women were for married life. There was NO question of associating with
women in Gaudiya Math; and if someone did associate with women it would
cause fall down from their celibacy. In Vrindavan Gaudiya Math of Srila
Vana Maharaj women didn't exist. Being a tyagi, Lord Chaitanya was saved
from accidentally touching a woman and he greatly thanked the devotees
for that. Matha means monks. In 1970 Srila Vana Maharaj told me that he
strongly disagreed with ACBSP's mixing of men and women in ashram life.
He assured me that if I went to Iskcon I would fall down, and he was 100%
correct. In fact, ALL Srila Prabhupada's Godbrothers were completely against
the mixing of sexes in Matha (ashram) life.
QUESTION: So in the Gaudiya Math, they followed you around, making sure
you did everything properly?
---Hd: In Gaudiya Math all of the traditions were spiritually related.
For example: If one touches any kind of prasad (food, flower, etc) then
their hand becomes "prasadi" and if they then touch anything
"un-offered" (such as fruits, etc) even unknowingly, then the
touched article becomes "prasadi" and is NOT offer able; and
if it gets offered, even unknowingly, then there is spiritual aparadha
which will effect all the devotee's bhajan. The "prasadi" touch
doesn't mean dirty, it simply means that you must remain Krishna conscious,
on your toes, to avoid this or any kind of achar & archan offenses
in all GAUDIYA Math's. Thus one must always wash their "prasadi"
hand (or cloth) before unknowingly touching any UN-offered articles or
water supply, etc. and there-by bringing offense to all the devotees.
You cannot make sound with your feet in GAUDIYA MATH which would disturb
the Ears of the Deities;
Another example is use of the latrine, In the Gaudiya Math the devotees
would pass water as follows: The devotee would first privately remove
all his clothes and wrap a gamcha (small towel) around his waist. He would
take a lota (pot) in his right hand and fill it with water. Then he would
go to the latrine and pass water in a squatting position; after which
he would first pour water on the left hand while washing his private part.
Then dipping water with the lota in his right hand he would take a bottom
half bath, After this cleansing he would put on his kaupin, dhoti, and
outer cloth. Thus he would again be 'fit' to enter the temple and perform
other ashram duties. In Gaudiya tradition stool and urine are considered
most unclean and even worse than touching a dead body. In contrast an
Iskcon leader, a GBC Acharya, in the presence of witness Sri Mukunda Goswami
told me, that the thing to do was pass water in a bottle and then drink
it for health.
QUESTION: OK, so you have nicely established that the GAUDIYA MATH standard
is much more sound and authentic than the ISKCON standard. But what is
the practical application? Haven't ALL the GAUDIYA MATH groups lowered
their standards when dealing with the Westerners? Certainly Narayana Maharaja
is not training his Western sisyas the way you describe Vana Maharaja
training you. Neither is Govinda Maharaja. Is there any GAUDIYA MATH mission
where a Westerner can be accepted as a student and get trained up in the
authentic GAUDIYA MATH standard? Or have the GAUDIYA MATH missions ALL
decided that it is "impossible" to make a real Vaisnava out
of a mleccha... considering that even the ones trained to the full standard,
such as yourself, Sadananda Swami, and Walther Eidlitz, still fell far
from the standard. Or putting it another way: if you had a son who wanted
to be trained up in the authentic GAUDIYA MATH ashram standard, where
would you advise him to go?
---Hd: If my son wants' to learn the full bona fide tradition of Gaudiya
ashram life including the intricate archan systems then I'd advise him
to take shelter of Tridandi Swami Gopananda Vana Maharaj (he was Gopesh
Brahmacari during the 60s-70s) at either...
Bon Maharaj Bhajan Kutir
Madan Mohan Ghera
Vrindavan - 281121
Bon Maharaj Bhajan Ashram
86 Diamond Harbor Road
Shilpara - Barrisha
QUESTION: I wonder whether you may have slightly misunderstood my question.
Certainly a pure Vaishnava like Sripad Gopananda Vana Maharaja is CAPABLE
of training his sisyas in the proper sadacara... but my question was WOULD
HE train western sisyas in authentic ashram life...
and perhaps equally important, HAS HE DONE SO?
---Hd: Time stands still at Bhajan Kutir; and, thanks primarily to the
very offensive criticisms by Iskcon against Sripad Vana Maharaj, nothing
has changed (materially speaking) since 30 years. Srila Bon Maharaja's
circle never got contaminated by the Westerner's like I did.
In the Vrindavan Gaudiya Math where I lived NOBODY had 1 rupee.
Provisions were obtained by begging (barefoot w/o tickets), in Agra and
Saharanpur (UP) once a year, not money. 99% of the devotees I associated
with were monks, like Srila Vana Maharaja's BEST FRIEND and most exalted
prema-bhakta Akinchan Krishnadas Babaji Maharaj.
But the householders were all trained in Gaudiya achar. In fact, most
all of the sadachar was part of normal Bengali Vaishnava village life
as I saw in many E. & W. Bengali villages. Bengali Vaishnavas, including
all householders, grow up with this culture from childhood. Their upbringing
is completely opposite of ours (sahibs). None were rich. Few could donate
Rs. 50 -100 per year to the Bhajan Kutir to help the seva.
There was NO money consciousness in the Math. AND there was NEVER ANY
SCANDALS nor SCAMS at all; NOR newspapers NOR politics NOR egos, just
simple Krishna bhakti.
QUESTION: You [H] said, "there was NO money consciousness in the
AND there was NEVER ANY SCANDALS," Sorry H we know better...there
was much scandal after Bhakti-Siddhanta passed away when the GAUDIYA MATHA
split i.e. Ananta Vasudeva, Sundarananda Vidyavinode discovered the lack
of true diksha in the GAUDIYA MATHA, murders between fighting factions
---Hd: Your talking about things from over 60 years ago. I'm talking about
the GAUDIYA Math's where I stayed 30 years after the post-Prabhupada problems
ended. There was complete peace and NO scandals what so ever. And even
those old GAUDIYA Math problems were petty compared to the limitless multitude
of Iskcon's perverted troubles, crimes and scandals.
QUESTION: And, having said that, I must wonder whether the predominant
mood among the GAUDIYA MATH missions is to take the Westerners' money
in exchange for some nice Hari-katha, while privately understanding that
the Westerners are not fit candidates for real spiritual life. Are you
aware of any other GAUDIYA MATH missions that on the one hand accept sincere
Westerners but on the other hand haven't lowered their standards for them?
---Hd: It seems that the du-sanga of the sahib's is so polluting that
even their touch with Vraja Dham, Mayapur Dham, and the current GAUDIYA
Math's has taken it's toll. Many Iskcon "power-flunkies" joined
Gaudiya Matha and they have polluted it with their inbred Iskcon brand.
But I assure you that nothing has changed at Bhajan Kutir, which is free
of the mleccha influence. At Bhajan Kutir there is only one activity,
viz., Krishna Consciousness as prescribed by Srila Rupa Goswami in Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu.
Of course, in Western minds this life-style would be viewed as avoiding
the non-devotees and wasting time sitting around isolated from the world.
It would be branded as "sahajiya." But in learned circles it
is called "bhajan" or spiritual life.
QUESTION: My experiences are not exactly those of yours, but in many ways
I feel the same, it is true. ACBSP had some kind of animus against Bon
Maharaj and against all Gaudiya Math. The problem here is the "institutionalization
of Vaishnava aparadha" in Iskcon, as some rather lucid individuals
As far as Iskcon's "material empire" is concerned, this is something
that H. had mentioned before in his articles on VNN. In particular, I
must agree with him on the Mayapura temple. I heard Prabhupada first-
and second-hand often say that he specifically wanted something bigger
than the Yoga Pith. I decidedly got the impression that he wanted to rub
the GAUDIYA Math's faces in his own superior achievements. There is a
letter to Bhakti Promode Puri Maharaj that has recently been circulating
on various forums that shows rather clearly how Prabhupada did this.
I also agree with H's comments on the relative degree of scandal in Iskcon
and the GAUDIYA MATH. The scandals of Iskcon are so utterly excessive
in comparison to what happened in GAUDIYA MATH that to compare them is
a scandal, for all PADA's efforts to do so. There was some tussling in
the GAUDIYA MATH over who should be acharya and one sannyasi "falldown";
a few sannyasi's started their own missions and some even went and became
babajis! This is comparable to the follies of Bhavananda, Kirtanananda,
Hamsaduta and Jayatirtha? These men failed the grade by any standard,
karmi, Christian, Muslim, or Buddhist, and what to speak of the Gaudiya
The institutionalization of Vaishnava aparadha and Prabhupada's involvement
in it is still a difficult subject to bring up, as the reaction to H prabhu's
comments indicate. I feel that Prabhupada's personal contributions to
the problems that post-Prabhupada Iskcon underwent is something that any
serious analysis of the great Iskcon mess should take into consideration.
Unfortunately, those who are attached to Prabhupada are unable to deal
with these issues rationally, preferring to accuse anyone who says anything
about it of being snakes or whatever the current favored insult is.
---Hd: In Iskcon's Veda Base ACBSP is 'quoted' as saying that Vana (Bon)
Maharaj "is NOT a human being!"
Obviously Srila Prabhupada
didn't MEAN it. And before departing he begged and received forgiveness!
And he also said, "you (followers) can't say or think these things!"
--- So why do they continue these lies and offenses against all ACBSP's
Godbrothers? Why do they separate Iskcon from Gaudiya Math like the Sikhs
from the Hindus? Who cares what "group?" We must some-how-or-other
fix our mind at the Feet of Radha-Krishna by talking help and blessings
from all the exalted devotees from every Matha.
Regarding Gaudiya Traditions v/s Iskcon's NEW traditions let me give a
1) In a GAUDIYA MATH devotees mind is the concern about something being
"prasadi" (touched to prasad); that something offered to the
Deities is "prasadi" and should not be touched to any bhog or
not yet offered items, because Guru & Krishna will be displeased if
such items are carelessly offered by mistake. Thus his whole mind-set
is full with PURE Krishna Consciousness.
2) In a basic Iskcon devotee's mind is the concern that as much money
and material results should be obtained to make the whole world become
Iskcon. He thinks "I am (greater than) a demigod, here comes a demon
that will give; ah! here comes another demon who may give." And "material"
results are so important that they are announced every morning to clapping!?
Thus his whole mind-set is full with material results, by which he measures
In Iskcon they repeat the slogan, "you can tell a thing by its result!"---
But this results' philosophy is GROSS MATERIALISM. This slogan is
the main focus of karmi life. This Iskcon slogan is what karmi's always
say, exactly! This Iskcon slogan is anti Gita and is karma-misra at best!
Real "bhakti" is devoid of this type of thinking, as is revealed
in BRS by Srila Rupa Goswami.
>>>In Gaudiya Math the Person Who got all the respect was Lord
Krishna, not the ashram leaders, collectors or managers.<<<
Some how Iskcon followers believe that what ever they think' they
do for Krishna is OK; and Lord Krishna wants MONEY to take over the material
world! So get money by hook or crook. And break any law, run any scam,
steal money...and kill (fleece?) the demons; and everybody outside Iskcon
is called a "demon."
As I have repeatedly said before, by virtue of Vana Maharaja's face to
face forgiving of Srila Prabhupada for his satam-ninda (apparently OFFENSIVE
& UNTRUE STATEMENTS) so HDG is thus faultless. But his society and
leaders are not innocent because they carry on this maha-aparadha.
Take Sripad B.V. Narayana Maharaj, for ONE example: there is no reason
to think that he has not achieved svarupa siddhi at the end of his perfect
devotee life. But Iskcon devotees & leaders have banned him completely.
If he IS a svarupa siddha maha-bhagavat bhakta then the magnitude of Iskcon's
offense is beyond my limited scope.
---If what Iskcon says and feels AGAINST Gaudiya Matha were TRUE, then
Lord Chaitanya's philosophy wouldn't be worth beans.