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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
(Mathura) U.P.

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 Math. 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 etc.

---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 call it.

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 Matha!

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 simple example,

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 each devotee.

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.