As the sun arose, Srila Prabhupada toured the temple grounds. He took the opportunity to ask Siddha Svarupananda Goswami and some our ISKCON authorities about their dispute. He wanted to hear all points of contention in order to try to settle the long-simmering quarrel.
Madhudvisha Swami spoke up first. His South Seas zone was the most seriously affected when Siddha Svarupa and his followers left ISKCON. One temple had to be closed and several others were severely depleted in manpower. Siddha's group is most active in New Zealand and Australia, sometimes causing friction with anti-ISKCON propaganda.
Madhudvisha Swami itemized several points of contention, especially the tendency of Siddha Svarupa's followers to focus their allegiance on him rather than on Prabhupada. He also complained that they prefer to distribute books written by Siddha Svarupa rather than Srila Prabhupada's.
Siddha Svarupa vigorously denied the allegations. Prabhupada himself said he didn't think Siddha's having a following was a serious thing. On the whole, he seemed to minimize the complaints against Siddha Svarupa. He hoped to heal their rift, and told them in a good humoredly fashion, "Whatever is done is done. Now let us make some adjustment and work combinedly. That is my proposal."
Siddha Svarupa, however, didn't think he could comply with this request. "Srila Prabhupada, the problem is that to work combinedly, they think that that means that I surrender to them and I do everything as they say; otherwise I am not surrendering. So as far as I am concerned, I cannot work with them ..."
The discussion became a little acrimonious as Siddha Svarupananda became increasingly defensive. He eventually revealed his underlying mentality by adamantly proclaiming that he would never accept control by anyone, especially not the GBC.
Prabhupada offered to make him a GBC member, but he refused even to consider this alternative. This seemed to be the real crux of the issue, he doesn't want to work with his Godbrothers on any level.
Another of Madhudvisha Maharaja's complaints was that those who have left ISKCON to join Siddha Svarupa now lack the discipline they had formerly.
This seemed to strike a chord with Srila Prabhupada. He clearly explained that unless there is discipline, there is no question of "disciple."
Siddha Svarupa didn't have any disagreement with that but said he considered that the person being disciplined must voluntarily put himself under someone's discipline.
Srila Prabhupada agreed with his point. "Accepting a spiritual master means voluntarily accepting somebody to rule him. There is no question ... I have no power to rule over you unless you voluntarily surrender."
When Gurukripa Swami mentioned that vaidhi-bhakti means sometimes doing things that one does not like to do, Prabhupada also agreed. To illustrate the point he told a story of a famous lawyer during the days of British rule, C. R. Das, who was earning a huge amount of money. He was also a supporter of the Congress party, but in a meeting it was decided that party members should not cooperate with the British court system. C. R. Das fought the proposal, offering to use his earnings to promote the party, but the resolution was passed. This meant he lost everything, but because the majority decided, he had to do it.
Prabhupada said that of course we are not interested in democracy; we follow the instructions of the spiritual master. But the point is that we have to work in a cooperative and systematic way to spread Krishna consciousness all over the world so that people may be highly benefited. He said that whatever misunderstandings are there should be adjusted, and we should work wholeheartedly together to relieve the suffering of the people.
Ultimately, in Prabhupada's summation, he said there seemed to be a disagreement not in philosophy but in the matter of process. "You are thinking this way, he is thinking that way. That is the difference. Otherwise he is also eager to push on Krishna consciousness; you are also."
Tamal Krishna Maharaja suggested the problem was that both parties believe Prabhupada was thinking their way.
So Prabhupada brought the discussion to an end by declaring that he will give his personal verdict and they should all accept that. "Not your way, not his way. Let me understand what is the way you are trying to follow, what is the way he is trying to follow. Now I shall give my verdict, that 'This is the right way.'" Turning to Siddha Svarupa he asked him, "Are you agreeable to this?"
"Then thank you, no more talk now. We shall talk later."