Right after dealing with the mail, Pushta Krishna Maharaja allowed some devotees from the Los Angeles BBT Ramesvara, Radhaballabha, and Jagannatha Suta to come onto the veranda. Prabhupada approved specific criteria for the Srimad-Bhagavatam covers. The artists had drawn a new color scheme, a different one for each of the twelve Cantos. Although Prabhupada said that originally he had planned to use the illustration of the spiritual sky that presently adorns the First Canto, for all the volumes, he accepted their idea but told them very clearly that after this there could be no more changes.
Jayatirtha prabhu also showed up. He asked that Ramesvara be awarded sannyasa. Prabhupada immediately and happily granted the request. Jayatirtha told Prabhupada that Ramesvara is a naishthiki-brahmacari, having never had sex in this lifetime.
Gradually more GBC members arrived on the balcony. Panca Dravida Swami brought up the sannyasi/grihastha conflict again. Tamal Krishna Goswami, Gargamuni Swami, and Bhagavan dasa eventually joined the discussion, which went on until 1:30 p.m.
The topic came up again because many devotees feel that the resolutions passed are too drastic. The resolution calling for all householders to earn a living outside of the temple financial structure includes temple presidents.
Srila Prabhupada was told that such regulations were meant to protect ISKCON from becoming financially overburdened.
Srila Prabhupada has given his approval in principle, but there is considerable discontent among the temple presidents. Most of them are married men and feel that they are simply being discriminated against by the sannyasis. They are very apprehensive about how the new resolutions will be practically applied.
They also resent what they perceive to be inferences that as married men they are less useful than the brahmacaris and sannyasis and perhaps even burdensome to the preaching mission. Many GBC members, including some of the sannyasis, are now also having doubts about whether the resolutions passed are actually fair.
Thus the debate was resumed, and Srila Prabhupada listened as various devotees expressed their views.
Tamal Krishna Goswami was apparently not prepared to concede any ground on the issue, even though nearly everyone else's complaint is against him and his marked pro-sannyasi/brahmacari inclination.
It got late, and Srila Prabhupada sent everyone for lunch without coming to any real conclusions.
When everyone had gone, Tamal Krishna Maharaja remained behind for a minute with Srila Prabhupada. It appeared he wanted to gain Prabhupada's affirmation on his feeling that it is better to be strict. He told Prabhupada that as a sannyasi he is personally uncompromising in dealings with women, to the point that he doesn't speak to any women whatsoever, even when preaching. He feels that unless the Society is conscientious on this matter, there will be a loss of purity and determination to preach.
Prabhupada agreed, Tamal Krishna then left, and Prabhupada took his bath.
When Prabhupada returned to his room I asked him whether Maharaja's attitude of avoiding women in his preaching is a material consideration.
"Yes, it is," he said. However, noting my critical tone of voice, he corrected me, "But does that mean he is not a devotee?"
As he sat down at his desk putting on his tilaka, he noticed a beautifully decorated bookmark that I had just placed there. Picking it up he asked me where it came from. I told him it was a gift from Krishna Rupa dasi, an Australian brahmacarini living here in Mayapur. He exclaimed very appreciatively, "Such nice service, how can it be refused? I have never stopped them from rendering service simply because they are women."
After prasadam he went for his usual nap, but arose early, within fifteen minutes. I answered the ring of the bell and found him sitting on his bed, looking deeply troubled. He was unable to rest because of the controversy. He had a headache. "This is a very serious thing, this difference of sannyasi and grihastha," he said with a frown. "Everything will be spoiled."
I recalled his comments that the Gaudiya Matha fell into difficult times because Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati had ordered his disciples to form a GBC to conjointly manage, and they had simply argued and made their own plans. "We made a GBC SrilaPrabhupada," I said, "but still there is splitting."
Srila Prabhupada's reply was brusque and revealing. "Personal ambition!" Then he went to sit in his darsana room.
In the evening the entire Governing Body Commission came in to see Prabhupada. Things had come to a head. After some discussion, Jayadvaita dasa, a brahmacari, was invited in to speak as the representative of all the temple presidents. They had held meetings to discuss the implications of the new resolutions, and he presented the results. It seemed that much of the basis of the conflict stemmed from the activities of the Radha Damodara sankirtana party. They have gained some notoriety for taking unmarried men from temples without asking, thereby undermining temple authorities.
Brahmacaris were being told that if they remained in the temples they would end up married, entangled in family affairs, and therefore useless. On the other hand, they could accept the alternative of a carefree life, traveling and preaching with the RDTSKP buses.
It was claimed that the effect on the temples was to put them in great difficulty because they were losing the sankirtana men, their most valuable assets.
Tamal Krishna Maharaja was still adamant, defending his party and their record-breaking book distribution. He proclaimed the accusations as outright lies. However, he seemed alone. Most GBC men, although highly appreciative of the RDTSKP's book distribution and sympathetic to the principle of vairagya as being the foundation for a spiritually strong society, were now backing away from their earlier stance.
After hearing both sides, Prabhupada spoke. He broke the deadlock. He finally settled the issue by wonderfully preaching to everyone that it does not matter what one is, one can do anything and go anywhere for Krishna. We are not to discriminate against anyone on the basis of external dress. One is to be judged on the basis of one's advancement in Krishna consciousness.
Quoting the verse yei krishna-tattva-vetta sei 'guru' haya, he told them, "We cannot say simply because one is grihastha then he must go away." Everyone is entitled to the same facility to preach he said. Srila Bhaktivinoda was a grihastha, and his son a life-long celibate and sannyasi, but both of them were gurus. There was no difference. He said that the tendency to form factions was not good and he wanted it to stop immediately. He stressed there must be cooperation between the temples and the traveling parties, and that no one fixed principle applied to everyone.
Living in the temple is preaching, also cleaning, cooking and doing Deity worship. A brahmacari may be allowed to go with the sannyasis, but not if he is holding a responsible position in the temple.
He stated the proper etiquette for a man to join a traveling party; he should do so only with the permission of the temple president. And ideally, he said, it is better that the grihasthas manage the temples and the sannyasis go out and preach. This example was set by the Six Gosvamis, who turned over the management of their temples to their married disciples. As for the brahmacaris, he said they may do either travel and preach, or remain in the temple.
As Srila Prabhupada gave his verdict, the room became increasingly packed with devotees eager to understand the solution to the conflict.
Finally Prabhupada concluded that this competitive spirit and attitude of "puffed-up prestige," was not good. Everyone should remain as a humble servant. Thus he made it quite clear that he disapproved of the resolutions and ordered the GBC to meet and strike out the controversial ones.
Everyone left happy and relieved that the conflict that had grown over a period of a year or so was finally resolved.
Only Tamal Krishna Goswami remained in Srila Prabhupada's room, requesting me also to leave so that he could spend a few minutes alone with Srila Prabhupada. I later heard from Maharaja what he discussed with Srila Prabhupada. Seeking solace and feeling defeated, he began to lament to Prabhupada that now he felt discouraged, like an enemy in the camp. He said that he didn't want to be an obstacle to the progress of Srila Prabhupada's movement, so perhaps he should not even preach in America any more. Maybe he should go and preach where he would not be a disturbance to anyone, like China or somewhere else.
After twenty minutes of commiseration, he got up and left. I was out on the balcony, and I watched him make a lonely walk down the veranda and disappear up the stairs.
I entered Prabhupada's room and found him clearly relieved at having resolved the matter. He smiled at me and said, "Of all the GBC, he," indicating Tamal Krishna Maharaja with a tip of his head, "is the most intelligent. But the problem is, those with intelligence want to control everything. And he wants to control the whole Society. He wants to be the supreme controller."
Right before mangala-arati Prabhupada buzzed me. He called for Tamal Krishna Goswami and Trivikrama Swami, but I could only find Trivikrama, since Tamal Krishna had already entered the temple.
Prabhupada told Trivikrama Maharaja that he wanted him to go immediately to China with Tamal. He had been meditating on it all night, he said, and decided that we should definitely do something in the Communist countries.
He also called for Gopala Krishna prabhu and told him to leave for Russia as soon as possible. He said that there are opportunities there for book distribution to libraries, and as an Indian businessman, Gopala Krishna would be well received.
Both Trivikrama Maharaja and Gopala were excited by the prospect of opening up vast new preaching fields. They both happily agreed.
Word was sent out to Tamal Krishna Maharaja, but by the time he arrived in Srila Prabhupada's room, His Divine Grace had gone to the bathroom to freshen up for his morning walk.
Tamal Krishna was visibly shocked at the idea of going to China. As we waited, he began to pace the room, voicing all the reasons why he could not possibly go. Madhudvisha and Gurukripa Swamis accompanied him to give him some support. Prabhupada had altered a decision many times previously upon further discussion of an issue. They felt that Tamal had good, strong arguments that might change Prabhupada's mind upon his hearing them.
After a few minutes Srila Prabhupada returned and sat behind his low desk to apply his tilaka.
Tamal Krishna Maharaja sat before him and presented all the reasonable arguments why he should not go to China.
He hadn't expected that Prabhupada would take what he had said last night literally. He explained how, after leaving Prabhupada's room, he had met with his entire Radha Damodara party, and they had discussed their plans for the coming year. They were all enthusiastic and determined to make it the biggest year ever in book distribution. If he were to leave the sankirtana party now everything might collapse; the preaching was only going on by his personal presence. There was no one else who could organize it.
Gurukripa Maharaja spoke up in support, volunteering to go to China instead so that Tamal could stay in America and continue the book distribution. It was a very strong argument. Book distribution is Srila Prabhupada's greatest joy and not something he will jeopardize.
Nevertheless, Prabhupada firmly rejected the offer. "No! He must go!" Visibly irritated, Prabhupada asserted, "The Radha Damodara party is going on by Krishna's energy, not Tamal Krishna Goswami's! You said it [China], and I thought about it all night. I wanted to do something there, and I took it as Krishna speaking through you." It quickly became clear to everyone that Prabhupada was very serious.
Madhudvisha and Gurukripa backed away, their silence leaving Tamal Krishna isolated.
His position rapidly weakening, but still resistant, Tamal Krishna Maharaja tried again. He said that he had indeed mentioned going to China but he might just as easily have said he wanted to go to the moon and preach. He wasn't being serious; it was a joke.
Now Prabhupada became angry. "Vaishnavas do not joke! You said it, and I took it as Krishna's indication. I thought about it all night. We have no men there, and I took it as a good opportunity to do something there."
Tamal Krishna was sinking fast, but he tried one last argument. He said that he could understand that His Divine Grace wanted something to be done there but any sannyasi could do it. It shouldn't be a GBC member, who has so many other important responsibilities.
Prabhupada's face was flushed. His back straightened, and his upper lip twitched on the left side. His anger was barely restrained. His hands shook as he held his tilaka mirror and applied the sacred clay to his forehead.
"Why not GBC? All your resolutions are finished. First resolution, then revolution, then dissolution, no solution! I have to manage everything myself! I give you a little power, and you create havoc! GBC is for solving situations, not for creating situations."
He was fully determined and fixed in his decision. He forced his disciple to surrender, making it quite clear there was no option. "I want it, but you do not want. It is my very strong desire. Now I take everything from you. You can either go to China, or you simply sit here in Mayapur and chant!"
Tamal Krishna Maharaja bowed his head and conceded. He finally understood there was no alternative and surrendered, agreeing to do whatever his spiritual master required. Despite the prospect of foregoing everything that he had worked for several years to build up the most successful preaching party in the Society, Prabhupada's desire was paramount. It was a fruitless glory if he didn't please Srila Prabhupada.
Tamal asked only one concession, that Dhrishtadyumna dasa, a leading brahmacari from RDTSKP and a sannyasa candidate, accompany him, not Trivikrama Swami.
Prabhupada, now wreathed in smiles, happily agreed. Obviously pleased by the submission of his leading sannyasi disciple, he strode out to take his morning walk, much of which he spent happily discussing how the new preaching assignment would be fulfilled.