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Unity in Diversity


Image: ISKCON Dallas, 2019 (ISKCON News Archives)

 

We would particularly like to listen to from you about Unity in Diversity by way of your experiences and understanding of Srila Prabhupada. Perhaps the way you heard him speak about this, or how he put it into observe. 

 

Srila Prabhupada Evokes Unity in Diversity

When dissimilar people or ideas are harmonized, it’s referred to as ‘unity in variety.’ Such unity isn’t based mostly on a mere tolerance of psychological, private, or ideological variations however relies on an understanding that variations are pure and might enrich us. Discovering how we’re united regardless of our variations could make us extra fulfilled, broader devotees of Krishna. This kind of unity doesn’t imply uniformity and this kind of variety doesn’t imply fragmentation. In Srila Prabhupada phrases, “In the fabric world there are varieties, however there isn’t any settlement. In the religious world there are varieties, however there’s settlement. That is the distinction. The materialist with out having the ability to regulate the varieties and the disagreements makes all the things zero. They can not come into settlement with varieties, but when we hold Krishna within the middle, then there might be settlement in varieties. This is named unity in variety.” (Letter to Kirtanananda Oct. 18, 1973) 

Srila Prabhupada needed his numerous followers to cooperatively observe the ideas of Krishna consciousness and to supply Krishna consciousness to all others. Since his followers got here from the complete spectrum of society, in addition to from totally different cultures and totally different non secular, academic, and financial backgrounds, they generally had fairly totally different understandings of Srila Prabhupada’s teachings and wishes.

Correctly or incorrectly, all of us have a tendency to think about our understanding of the proper one and others’ differing understanding as mistaken not directly. When Srila Prabhupada observed his followers displeasing one another and preventing, he stated it gave him “an excessive amount of agitation” in his thoughts and he reiterated a verse important to fixing this problem: “One ought to chant the holy identify of the Lord in a humble way of thinking, considering oneself decrease than the straw on the street; one needs to be extra tolerant than a tree, devoid of all sense of false status and needs to be prepared to supply all respect to others. In such a way of thinking one can chant the holy identify of the Lord continuously.” And Prabhupada commented, “We should all the time bear in mind this verse and be as tolerant because the tree, as we execute the Krishna consciousness motion. Without this mentality, we can’t be profitable.” (Letter to Kirtanananda, Oct. 18,1973)

 

Srila Prabhupada Speaks About Unity in Diversity

In the identical letter to Kirtanananda quoted above, Srila Prabhupada additionally wrote,Material nature means dissension and disagreement, particularly on this Kali yuga. But, for this Krishna consciousness motion its success will rely on settlement, though there are forms of engagements. … if we struggle on account of variety, then it’s merely the fabric platform.” 

Variety could be an asset for it could possibly improve our attraction and appreciation of one thing. The fantastic thing about a vase with many sorts of flowers and greens, for instance, is bigger than that of a vase with out such selection. Similarly, Srila Prabhupada explains that Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, desires us to do what He says and what He says is variegated. His objective is particular person for everybody. In Srila Prabhupada’s phrases,

Varieties of functions. Krishna is asking Arjuna to struggle with the Kurus, or He’s asking me to evangelise. I’m not preventing. So Krishna, being all pervasive, He has acquired forms of order, and your responsibility is to hold out the order of Krishna, that’s all. What form of order He’ll give, you count on, identical to you might be doing, all my disciples. It is just not that you’re all doing the identical factor. Somebody is pūjārī, someone is preaching, someone is collector, someone is Messiah, someone is that this, someone is that. So there are totally different varieties, however your responsibility is to hold out my order. Surrender means, no matter is favorable for Krishna we apply, that’s all. You can not say, identical to Arjuna, he initially declined, “Krishna, I’m not going to struggle.” That is just not give up. You can not deny Him. That is give up. Then, when he understood Bhagavad-gītā, he stated, “Yes, I shall try this.” So lengthy I deny Krishna, that’s disunity, and as quickly as I agree, “Krishna, sure,” then that is unity. This is unity. Unity doesn’t imply that Krishna and Arjuna develop into united, homogeneous. No. Krishna is distinct, and Arjuna. They live on. In the start Arjuna was denying to struggle. That is disunity, and on the finish when he stated, “Yes, kariṣye vacanaṁ tava [Bg. 18.73], my phantasm is now over,” that’s unity. Unity doesn’t imply one’s self loses individuality. That can’t be. Krishna says that “Both you and Me and all these troopers and kings, they existed earlier than, now we’re present, and we will exist in future.” So that individuality is all the time saved. So unity means agreeing with the order of Krishna, and disunity means not agreeing with the order. Otherwise, your existence, mine and Krishna’s existence, all the time might be.” (Room dialog, Vrindavana Feb. 13,1974)

 

Srila Prabhupada, the Personification of Encouragement

In the Sixties and 70s, Srila Prabhupada’s burgeoning Hare Krishna motion attracted many numerous people, unified by their ongoing devotion and submission to Srila Prabhupada. To examine how Srila Prabhupada evoked unity in variety amongst his younger followers we will take a look at his dealings with certainly one of his early and outstanding college students, Hansadutta das (1941–2020). For ten years – from 1967 to 1977 – Hansadutta obtained nice encouragement and lots of directions from Srila Prabhupada, in addition to nice chastisement, making a novel and instructive tapestry of insights. 

Srila Prabhupada’s early letters to Hansadutta have been nurturing. In one such letter, Srila Prabhupada wrote, “Your appreciation of my Spiritual Master may be very commendable. One who understands and appreciates the disciplic succession is definitely superior, and we must always all the time be very cautious to offer full respect to those that have so rigorously dealt with this Divine Fruit of transcendental information earlier than us. Even a slight change will spoil it. That is why I’ve all the time been so cautious to offer you solely these issues which I’ve heard from my Guru Maharaja.” (Letter to Hansadutta, Aug, 1967)

When Hansadutta revealed that he felt disturbed, Srila Prabhupada responded by combining teaching with instructive encouragement: “Yes, it is extremely good if you happen to can chant 64 rounds; that is very good if you are able to do it. But initially we shouldn’t be disturbed by any circumstances. If you do develop into disturbed then this implies you might be nonetheless poor in reaching the purpose. In Bhagavad-gita it’s stated that when Krishna is inside our view, at the moment one is just not disturbed even within the midst of gravest calamity. Anyway, even when we’re disturbed, then the one resort is to chant and focus one’s thoughts in Krishna. There is not any different various. Chanting and dancing make one relieved of all materials burdens.” (Letter to Hansadutta, March 23, 1969)

In his exchanges with Hansadutta, Srila Prabhupada emphasised the significance of imbibing Krishna’s teachings: “I need you leaders particularly to develop into very a lot absorbed within the philosophy of Bhagavad-gītā, Śrīmad-Bhagavatam, and develop into yourselves utterly satisfied and free from all doubt. On this platform you shall be capable of stick with it the work satisfactorily, but when there’s lack of expertise or if there’s forgetfulness, all the things might be spoiled in time.” (Letter to Hansadutta, June 22, 1972)

Srila Prabhupada understood Hansadutta’s psychological state of affairs and used that understanding to encourage him in Krishna consciousness: “Now you seem little stressed, I do know that’s your nature, you love to do large issues and you might be very succesful and clever younger man for executing great duties on behalf of Krishna… nonetheless you handle it, that you realize finest, my solely level is that I don’t prefer to see you develop into discouraged as you might be indicating, as a result of there isn’t any precise trigger for such discouragement. Rather there’s all encouraging prospects forward.” (Letter to Hansadutta, Jan 2, 1973)

 

Srila Prabhupada Deals with Differences

Although Srila Prabhupada’s hundreds of followers had his teachings in widespread, needed to please him, and have been keen to cooperate with one another, every now and then they disagreed. Srila Prabhupada handled this distressing reality in quite a lot of methods. Often, for instance, Srila Prabhupada inspired his followers to think about the divisive concern themselves. “I’ve not made any resolution, however I would really like you to debate this amongst yourselves and ship me your conclusion.” (Letter to Hansadutta, Feb. 17, 1973) 

Other instances Prabhupada supported democratic resolution making. “The majority vote and my opinion needs to be taken. When the bulk opinion is current, my opinion might be sure or no. In most instances it is going to be sure except it’s grievously in opposition to our ideas.” (Letter to Hansadutta, Aug 20, 1971)

And Srila Prabhupada didn’t need Hansadutta or anybody else to defy that majority opinion: “Regarding Madhavananda being the president, if he obtained the vote, why you may have opposed? You have to be neutral. My advice is that he have to be the president. He has been chosen by the vote, and I’m giving the casting vote for him. He is doing issues very properly there, so he have to be the president.” (Letter to Hansadutta, Sept 12, 1974)

Although Srila Prabhupada stated he supported Madhavananda and voted for him, when Madhavananda criticised Hansadutta Srila Prabhupada would have none of it and as a substitute impressed unity by way of cooperation: “Regarding Hansadutta, you can’t criticize him. Hansadutta is liquidating the money owed. You have been there however you could possibly not liquidate, however Hansadutta has come and he’s liquidating… We ought to make the most of our skills with out being envious of others. You ought to do your finest, however you shouldn’t be envious of others. In materials life there’s merely envy of others progress, however in religious life one encourages one other, ‘Oh you might be doing very good.’ That is Radharani. She says, ‘Oh here’s a very good devotee. Please Krishna, you settle for him.’” (Letter to Madhavananda Oct 6, 1974)

 

Srila Prabhupada Mediates and Tolerates

At instances Srila Prabhupada would mediate a compromise with differing devotees: “I don’t suppose that Hayagriva [a book editor] is at fault. He has not modified the that means or the philosophy in any manner. But if you happen to like to make use of the unique manuscript, then whether it is potential, you need to use it.” (Letter to Hansadutta, June 8, 1975)

At different instances Srila Prabhupada supported impartial pursuits fairly than battle: “You have expressed some new concepts to enhance BTG of the English Back To Godhead, however I feel that there isn’t any must interrupt their mind-set. Now you may have an opportunity in your personal version so do it properly and in accordance with your personal concepts.” (Letter to Hansadutta, Dec. 12, 1968)

To foster unity, Srila Prabhupada tolerated discrepancies as a father does together with his kids: “A father cannot be displeased together with his sons, however typically the sons create disturbances, and the daddy has to tolerate. Constitutionally, the daddy is all the time affectionate and happy with the sons. But it’s as much as the sons to obey the daddy and hold the connection pure.” (Letter to Hansadutta, Feb 9, 1969)

And Prabhupada constantly emphasised remaining unified round our widespread objective: “We should hold Krishna all the time within the middle, after which though there are disturbances and typically fall downs we will work collectively and hold our society intact.” (Letter to Hansadutta, June 8, 1974)

When battle arose, Srila Prabhupada strongly appealed to his followers to beat their variations: “I’ve appointed the GBC to not struggle amongst yourselves however to handle. If there’s preventing then how will you handle? So the entire GBC committee should resolve if there’s preventing.” (Letter to Hansadutta, Sept 29, 1975) “I appoint GBC for peaceable administration of affairs and now you might be creating disturbances amongst yourselves. So how can I be peaceable to translate my work. So all these items needs to be saved in abeyance in the meanwhile and once we meet in Mayapur we will talk about amongst the complete GBC. …On the entire why there needs to be distinction of opinion amongst the GBC? If there’s some distinction of opinion how is it that it cannot be adjusted amongst you?” (Letter to Hansadutta, Oct 16, 1975)

Prabhupada urged his disciples to search out widespread floor on which to agree in friendship: “It is in no way fascinating that there be any factions amongst yourselves. Try to settle up amicably and proper your self. One man is educated up with nice problem particularly in religious life. Everyone has acquired some weak point and deficiency. It is best to appropriate or mend it than to interrupt it.” (Letter to Hansadutta, Sept 29, 1974)

“For the time being work with Hansadutta and cease the bickering and conflicting camps.” (letter to Puranjana April 7, 1974) Srila Prabhupada needed his followers to beat their small mindedness and their tendency to create factions.

 

How did Srila Prabhupada Practice Unity in Diversity?

Diversity could also be on account of persona variations and dealing sensitively with these variations can result in unity. Sometimes Srila Prabhupada guided his disciples in accommodating others: “I perceive that Hansadutta works finest when he could be in command of the state of affairs, so when he arrives he could act because the temple president and also you shall be his assistants.” (Letter to Bhagavan, Krsna Bhamini July 13, 1969)

At different instances Srila Prabhupada urged that devotees serve in separate locations: “I’m additionally conscious that typically Hansadutta might be very cussed, however he’s additionally doing one thing there, so why not let him go on, and you’re taking cost of opening branches in these northern European international locations like Sweden, and that might be very a lot appreciated by me.” (Letter to Krsna das Feb 24, 1972)

And Srila Prabhupada inspired his disciples’ good behaviour: “Regarding your journey to U.S.A. you say that you may be tactful and respectful in your dealings. That needs to be the motto of all GBC. Be tolerant, and if there’s any deficiency, rectify it. All our males have volunteered good service, so the background is nice will. So all the things needs to be completed on the idea of fine will.” (Letter to Hansadutta, Sept 7, 1974)

 

Srila Prabhupada’s Boundaries

Regarding variety, Srila Prabhupada had clear limits to what he was keen to place up with and when that restrict was crossed, he made it clear. “It was delivered to my consideration that our Sriman Hayagriva das has develop into deviated from the 4 fundamental ideas which I’ve given to all my college students for adherence to when they’re first initiated. I have no idea why he’s dwelling in such a manner however I really feel that he have to be introduced again to the usual instantly.” (Letter to Hansadutta, Feb 17, 1973)

When Hansadutta did one thing whimsical, Srila Prabhupada’s response was direct and to the purpose:  “I have no idea how you could possibly dare to do that with out asking me or some other GBC members.” (Letter to Hansadutta, Aug 17, 1971)

Prabhupada typically thought points over and rejected them: “I’ve thought-about this matter of report distribution and have determined that it needs to be instantly stopped. It has merely triggered havoc. It needs to be stopped in every single place. The stress have to be on books, nothing else must be offered.” (Letter to Hansadutta, Jan 6, 1975)

The limits of what Srila Prabhupada would settle for concerning variety additionally prolonged to monetary issues. “The BBT assortment needs to be spent 50% for publishing and 50% for building of temples. … Not a single farthing needs to be invested in any enterprise enterprise. Formally it was so completed with none sanction. So watch out.” (Letter to Hansadutta, Sept 7, 1974)

When Hansadutta whimsically switched some devotees’ companies, Prabhupada didn’t prefer it: “The ladies are doing properly, so why are they being modified from the pujari to the Sankirtana? These issues needs to be completed by the President. These are inner issues, and you shouldn’t intervene. I don’t approve.” (Letter to Hansadutta, Sept 12, 1974)

On a few events Srila Prabhupada turned exceptionally sturdy with Hansadutta: “Why did you shut Edinburgh with out asking me? Paramahamsa experiences that you’ve closed the Edinburgh temple. Edinburgh was doing properly. You can’t shut a temple with out asking me? Is this an excessive amount of to do that? … I made the GBC to offer me aid, however if you happen to do like this, then the place is the aid. It is anxiousness for me. This is the issue, that as quickly as one will get energy, he turns into whimsical and spoils all the things. What can I do? If something must be modified, that may be determined on the annual GBC assembly, however not whimsically. I’m not in favor of closing even a small temple. It is just not a plaything to shut a temple or to begin a temple. When we open a temple we’re inviting Krishna. So you’ll be able to’t say to Krishna, go away. You don’t have any feeling what are the beliefs of a temple. ” (Letter to Hansadutta, Sept 12, 1974)

Just seventeen days later: “Regarding the closing of the temples, no temple could be closed for any purpose. You have completed an incredible mistake… We have to think about very rigorously earlier than opening a middle, and as soon as opened it can’t be closed. It is disastrous. What you may have completed is in no way allowed. I’m very upset that you’ve completed this. Even you didn’t seek the advice of me. Why? Now you wish to buy a farm, however are you able to handle? Why are you closing all of the temples after which opening a farm? do you may have ample males to take care of a farm? Why are you buying a farm?” (Letter to Hansadutta, Sept 29, 1974)

And two days after that: “I’ve heard that there’s some worship of your self by the opposite devotees. Of course it’s correct to supply obeisances to a Vaisnava, however not within the presence of the religious grasp. After the departure of the religious grasp, it would come to that stage, however now wait. Otherwise it would create factions.” (Letter to Hansadutta, Oct 1, 1974)

Hansadutta was a proficient, clever, competent and energetic devotee who, in his zealousness and misunderstandings, wanted Srila Prabhupada’s constant steering to  stay united with Srila Prabhupada’s Hare Krishna mission. And Srila Prabhupada was forthright and beneficiant with that steering.

 

“YOUR MATERIAL LEGAL FORMULA WILL NOT HELP US ONLY OUR SPIRITUAL LIFE CAN HELP US I HAVE NO APPROVAL FOR ANY THESE PLANS STOP YOU REMAIN GERMANY DON’T LEAVE AGAIN.” (Telegram to Hansadutta, April 6, 1972)

 

Srila Prabhupada, the Indomitable Preacher 

Srila Prabhupada’s readability of objective and purity enabled him to draw everybody from highschool dropouts to PhDs, pickpockets to CEOs, introverts to extroverts, atheists to theists. The excessive variety of his adherents didn’t have an effect on Prabhupada’s equanimity. He listened, thought over others’ views and, understanding their psychophysical natures, gave his followers the house, steering, encouragement, and services they wanted to develop of their distinctive methods. Prabhupada didn’t suppress individuality (“If we lose individuality and easily develop into mechanical, what’s the level?” he wrote in a letter to Hansadutta, Feb 14, 1972). Along with the range of individuality, Srila Prabhupada unearthed the methods and means to be unified by way of communication, cooperation, and collaboration.

From Srila Prabhupada’s dealings with Hansadutta, we will see that creating unity amongst numerous devotees isn’t a simple process. That Srila Prabhupada was in a position to take action factors to his respectful and humble dealings mixed with the rigour of his agency conviction; his kindness towards his disciples’ weaknesses mixed together with his brave and revolutionary imaginative and prescient. 

As talked about, the idea for unity in variety is humility, and we evoke that humility by way of real respect. “The devotees of Krishna are probably the most exalted individuals on this planet, higher than kings, all of them, so we must always all the time do not forget that and, just like the bumblebee, all the time search for the nectar or one of the best qualities of an individual… it’s best to think about that anybody engaged in Krishna’s service is all the time one of the best individual.” (Letter to Atreya Rshi 72-02-04) Mutual respect amongst devotees of Krishna will increase the devotees’ morale, improves their relationships, teamwork, and sense of fulfilment and happiness. Mutual respect creates unity.

Srila Prabhupada expressed it this fashion: “Please attempt to keep the philosophy of unity in variety. That will make our motion profitable. One part of males have already gone out, due to this fact we have to be very cautious to take care of unity in variety, and bear in mind the story in Aesop’s Fables of the daddy of many kids with the bundle of sticks. When the daddy requested his kids to interrupt the bundle of sticks wrapped in a bag, none of them may do it. But, once they eliminated the sticks from the bag, and tried one after the other, the sticks have been simply damaged. So that is the power in unity. If we’re bunched up, we will by no means be damaged, however when divided, then we will develop into damaged very simply.” (Letter to Kirtanananda Oct. 18, 1973)

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