When we are troubled by controversies in Krishna’s movement, should we try to tackle them or just focus on our service?
Transcriber: Geetanjali Nath
Question: When we are troubled by controversies in Krishna’s movement, should we try to tackle them or just focus on our service?
Answer: In bhakti, there is a concept of adhikar. Adhikar means, level of authority. We can deal with issues only according to our level of authority.
I once saw a cartoon where a wife was telling her husband, “Dear, can you come to bed?” The husband says, “I can’t.” She says, “Why not?” Husband, sitting on a computer and looking very busy, says, “Something is wrong on the internet.”
Somewhere something is wrong but the husband is completely consumed by it.
Although this is an extreme example, but the point I want to make is that we all have limited resources – time, energy, ability, influence etc. and we need to use them to the best possible way. We can call it as choosing our battles. For example, a soldier may be good at sword fighting, but the soldier sees that there is another division, which is fighting with bows and arrows, but that division is getting defeated. This soldier goes there but the enemy’s arrow cut soldier’s shoulder even before the soldier could do anything tangible. The soldier leaves the sword fighting division also and that division also becomes weakened.
There are many things in this world which are wrong. Krishna’s movement also at one level is part of this world. There may be many things wrong here also. However, the most important thing is that there is a facility for us to surrender, go close, and love to Krishna. To the extent we use this facility to that extent we grow closer to Krishna. We also create an influence around us by setting up positive examples and by creating a positive circle around us.
Krishna says in Bhagavad-gita that there is work in goodness, passion and ignorance. Ayuktah prakritah stabdhah shatho naishkritiko ’lasah, vishadi dirgha-sutri ca karta tamasa ucyate (BG 18.28). He says, that one who works without proper consideration of weather I can do this work or not, this kind of work is in the mode of ignorance. This can happen because of carelessness or presumptuousness. Careless means not thinking carefully about it. Presumptuous means thinking arrogantly that there is no problem I can do anything and everything.
Bhakti is ultimately transcendental but we are not transcendental. Even in the bhakti movement, we may sometimes act in goodness, sometimes in passion, sometimes in ignorance. When we start fighting with issues that are way beyond our capacity, we hurt and disempower ourselves. If a person, who can lift only 20 kg, tries to lift 100 kg, they will surely injure themselves. If we find that there is very little we can do to rectify a situation, despite knowing that somethings are wrong, then we might just focus on our bhakti. We focus on our japa, our sadhana, our seva and move on. We focus only on whatever little positive example we can set. If we do so, gradually Krishna may even empower us in future to make a difference.
Srila Prabhupada tried to work through Gaudiya Matha, but it did not work. He then worked separately and created the Krishna consciousness movement (ISKCON). So, there were situations which even Prabhupada could not rectify. For example, the conflicts between his godbrothers was so deep rooted, so complicated, that Prabhupada felt that if he get involved into such issues, those would completely consume him without any tangible return. He avoided such issues and started his own society. By his determination, vision, devotion and Krishna’s mercy, he created something extraordinary.
Similarly, we should also just focus on doing what we can. Gradually a positive example will be set. Sometimes there may be situations where we may have a say or have some influence. In such situations we may decide to fight our battle. However, remember, if we choose to fight a battle, then we fight it conscientiously knowing that there is going to be some trouble. Some people, especially those with kshatriya spirit, like to fight to set things right. People with brahmana mentality avoid conflicts and move out of the way, go somewhere else, and do their own thing. Brahmanas may also fight but they fight more at an intellectual level e.g. debate or something similar. Brahmanical debates are very different from political debates where people are attacking each other personally, which is very ugly.
Before we choose to fight, we better do it after due consultation with our seniors. We should see fighting a battle also as our service to Krishna. In no situation, we should forget that we are a servant of Krishna. If we do not have much influence, then we may restrict ourselves to just doing what we can do. With such an approach we will not get consumed by our situations. Sometimes if the battle is becoming too dirty, and we feel we have better things to do, we may just leave and avoid the conflict.
Generally, in any troubled situation there are three alternatives: (i) change ourselves (ii) change the circumstances (iii) walk away from the circumstances. In childhood when Kauravas were tormenting the Pandavas, the Pandavas just tolerated it. However, when Kauravas dishonoured Draupadi, all limits were crossed. At that point, the Pandavas fought the war and changed the circumstances. However, when Krishna departed from this world, then the Pandavas decided to just walk away. We have to use our intelligence to decide which option will best serve Krishna in a given situation. We can consult our seniors or pray to Krishna before we decide.