Real Spiritual leadership
This picture shows the difference between the Vedic way and the western way.
In the Mahabharata we read how the leaders like Yudhistira, Arjuna, Bhishma, Karna etc would all be on the battlefield leading the fight.
Often we see how leaders of many groups are simply behind desks telling others what to do. Even in our ISKCON society we see this all too often. The “leaders” are not going out on book distribution or Harinama but are simply going to meetings and making resolutions that do not go anywhere. On some occasions they may go out and do some practical preaching like Harinama, Prasadam or book distribution (like Srila Prabhupada did) and one of their disciples may take a picture of them doing this a few times a year, and it may go all over the internet. Everyone will say “Jaya Gurudeva!” and make a big deal about it as if that is their regular practice. But that was not Srila Prabhupada’s way, nor is it the Vedic way. More often then not we see leaders behind desks or at meetings or just enjoying the fruits of others labor. But not leading the charge and doing as much, if not more, work then their followers. We need to realize this and only suport those leaders that are actually DOING SOMETHING we personally agree with and would like to work along side of.
Below we hear from Srila Prabhupada what real leadership is:
The pure devotees of the Lord, like Brahma and persons in the chain of disciplic succession, do not do anything to instruct their subordinates without acting accordingly themselves.
If the king or government becomes demonic, it is the duty of a saintly person to upset the government and replace it with deserving persons who follow the orders and instructions of saintly persons.
” This chanting should go on. Instead of meetings, resolutions, dissolutions, revolutions and then no solutions, there should be chanting.”
(Lilamrta Vol.6 p.182)
The dress or style of royal order does not count. It is one’s actions which are counted.
Nimai Pandita was naturally a soft-hearted person, though strong in his principles. He declared that party feelings and sectarianism were the two great enemies of progress
Do not think in this way of big corporation, big credits, centralization—these are all nonsense proposals….Krishna Consciousness Movement is for training men to be independently thoughtful and competent in all types of departments of knowledge and action, not for making bureaucracy. Once there is bureaucracy the whole thing will be spoiled. There must be always individual striving and work and responsibility, competitive spirit, not that one shall dominate and distribute benefits to the others and they do nothing but beg from you and you provide. No….Each centre remain independent…GBC and Sannyasis will travel and see the officers are doing this, and if they observe anything lowering of the standard, they must reform and advise, or if there is some discrepancy I shall remove it….do not be so much anxious to count up so many numbers of new devotees, if such devotees go away later being too early forced. I want to see a few sincere devotees, not many false devotees or pretenders….There is some symptom of missing the point. The point is to be engaged in doing something for Krishna, never mind what is that job, but being so engaged in doing something very much satisfying to the devotee that he remains always enthusiastic. He will automatically follow the regulative principles because they are part of his occupational duty—by applying them practically as his occupational duty, he realizes the happy result of regulative principles….our leaders shall be careful not to kill the spirit of enthusiastic service, which is individual and spontaneous and voluntary. They should try always to generate some atmosphere of fresh challenge to the devotees, so that they will agree enthusiastically to rise and meet it. That is the art of management: to draw out spontaneous loving spirit of sacrificing some energy for Krishna. But where are so many expert managers? All of us should become expert managers and preachers….Forget this centralizing and bureaucracy.
(Letter to: Karandhara – Bombay 22 December, 1972)
The king would supply everything for their benefit, and because of this he would levy taxes. If the king or government otherwise levies taxes on the citizens, he becomes responsible for the sinful activities of the citizens. In Kali-yuga, monarchy is abolished because the kings themselves are subjected to the influence of Kali-yuga….Actually there are no kings or brahmanas in this age, and due to their absence the whole world is in a chaotic condition and is always in distress.
Government means, nowadays, all rascals. They are elected by rascals and they are rascals. That is the difficulty. Everywhere you go, you will meet only rascals. Manda. The definition is given, manda. Even in our camp there are so many rascals. Just see the report. Even they have come to be reformed, they are rascals. They cannot give up their rascal habits. Therefore it has been generalized, manda: “all bad.” But only difference is that in our camp the bad’s are being reformed; outside there is no reforming. There is hope of their being good, but outside there is no hope. That is the difference. Otherwise everyone is bad. Without any discrimination you can say. Mandah sumanda-matayo [SB 1.1.10]. Now, how the government will be good? This is also bad. Mahaprabhu’s name is Patita-pavana; He is delivering all bad men. In the Kali-yuga there is no good men at all – all bad.
(Morning Walk – October 4, 1975, Mauritius)
Any king who does not teach his citizens about their respective duties in terms of varna and asrama but who simply exacts tolls and taxes from them is liable to suffer for the impious activities which have been performed by the citizens. In addition to such degradation, the king also loses his own fortune.
If a king or head of the government is able to induce the citizens to become Krsna conscious, then he is worthy to rule over the mass of people; otherwise, he has no right to levy taxes. If the king looks after the spiritual interests of the citizens, he can levy taxes without difficulties. In this way both the subjects and the king will be happy during this life, and in the next life the king will be able to share one sixth of the pious activities of the citizens. Otherwise, by levying taxes on the sinful citizens, he will have to share the reactions of their sinful activities.
This same principle can be applied to parents and spiritual masters as well. If parents simply give birth to children like cats and dogs but cannot save their children from imminent death, they become responsible for the activities of their animalistic children. Lately, such children are turning into hippies. Similarly, if a spiritual master cannot direct his disciples to become free of sinful activities, he becomes responsible for their sinful acts.
( SB 4.20.14)
Prabhupada: Yes. Blind following and absurd inquiries. These things are condemned in this verse. Blind following means: “Oh, there is a swami. So many thousands of people are following. Let me become his disciple.” This is called blind following. You do not know what is that swami, whether he is a swami or a rascal. You do not know. But because everyone is going, “Oh, let me become his disciple.” This is blind following, without any knowledge, blind following.
(Bhagavad-gita 4.34-39 – Los Angeles, January 12, 1969)
If one has the proper means and wealth, he should occasionally invite the devotees of Lord Caitanya, who are engaged in preaching all over the world, and hold a festival at home simply by distributing prasada and talking about Krsna during the day and holding congregational chanting for at least three hours in the evening. This procedure must be adopted in all centers of the Krsna consciousness movement.
It is useless to obey an imperfect person. That is the blind following the blind. If the leader does not follow the instructions of the supreme controller, he is necessarily blind, and he cannot lead.
(The Quest for Enlightenment 6d: Thomas Aquinas: In Search of Divine Essence)
ISKCON (the International Society of Krishna Consciousness) is a non-lucrative organization, whose purpose is to promote the well-being of human society by drawing its attention to God. We are a non-sectarian society, and our members include people from Christian, Jewish and Moslem as well as Hindu faiths. The aim of ISKCON is not to found a new religious sect, but to invoke the living entity’s dormant love of God, and thus provide the human society of all faiths with a common platform of clear theistic knowledge and practice. Members of ISKCON may retain their own respective religious faiths, as ISKCON is meant to establish a clear, practical common formulation of the common ideal of all theists, and to defeat the unnecessary dogmatic wranglings that now divide and invalidate the theistic camp. This common ideal of theism is to develop love of God.
(Letter to: Roland Michener (Governor-General of Canada) – Montreal 24 August, 1968)
we shall always do everything in cooperative spirit and avoid any fighting amongst us, that is Vaisnava attitude
(Letter to: Jagadisa – Hyderabad 18 November, 1972)
Actually I want that householders shall manage in the temples, because they have got propensity to manage things and they want to take responsibility and they will not go away.
(Letter to: Nityananda – Bombay 25 November, 1972)
Why they have misunderstood these things? If they have objection they must lodge it with their GBC, and differences must be discussed openly amongst ourselves, not secret meetings. We are Vaisnava devotees, not politicians. So these things must be stopped, plotting.
(Letter to: Nityananda – Bombay 25 November, 1972)
GBC does not mean to control a center. GBC means to see that the activities of a center go on nicely. I do not know why Tamala is exercising his absolute authority. That is not the business of GBC. The president, treasurer and secretary are responsible for managing the center. GBC is to see that things are going nicely but not to exert absolute authority. That is not in the power of GBC. Tamala should not do like that. The GBC men cannot impose anything on the men of a center without consulting all of the GBC members first. A GBC member cannot go beyond the jurisdiction of his power. We are in the experimental stage but in the next meeting of the GBC members they should form a constitution how the GBC members manage the whole affair. But it is a fact that the local president is not under the control of the GBC. Yes, for improvement of situations such as this I must be informed of everything.
(Letter to: Giriraja – London 12 August, 1971)
They misunderstand me. Unless it is there from me in writing, there are so many things that “Prabhupada said.”
(Letter to: Omkara – Vrindaban 2 September, 1975)
Tamala Krsna: I think practically all over the society that has been stopped, the grhastha living together with wife. I don’t think there’s any case like that. But in the adjoining buildings they might be…
Prabhupada: Adjoining buildings… But the temple should not provide them with salary to enjoy their life. That is same thing.
Tamala Krsna: Generally the temples are providing them with apartments, like that.
Prabhupada: But that is temple.
Tamala Krsna: Yeah.
Prabhupada: Just like we have got so many tenants. They are living in their own. But they have no connection with the temple, neither the temple is paying them or… No, they are earning their own way.
Tamala Krsna: In other words, if the temple provides an apartment, it’s the same as paying a salary.
Tamala Krsna: In other words, giving an apartment is the same thing as providing a salary.
Prabhupada: All right, apartment can be… But what is this? They are given high salary. Because his service is essential — “All right, you take apartment.”
Tamala Krsna: But not…
Prabhupada: You take prasadam. But why salary? Where is the question of salary? Where is vairagya, renouncement? So in all circumstances the salary process should be stopped. One who wants salary, he can work outside.
Tamala Krsna: Actually, even if you don’t give a salary, if you give an apartment and you give food and you give all these other things for someone to maintain his household life…
Prabhupada: Because his service is essential.
Tamala Krsna: But that has to be determined very strictly.
Prabhupada: Yes. Yes. Whether his service is absolutely required? So you give him.
Tamala Krsna: That is the factor. That point must be clearly acknowledged.
Prabhupada: Hm hm. So he’s trying to practice… Because sevonmukhe, if he gives service, then gradually he’ll renounce. Sevonmukhe hi jihvadau svayam eva sphuraty adah [Brs. 1.2.234]. God realization means service. The more you give service to the Lord, the more you become advanced in devotional… So one who is giving service, dedicated life, so maybe… But no salary. They may live in the temple, woman separate, man separate.
Tamala Krsna: They’re… But the actual thing is that they’re being, living together in an apartment, and the temple is paying for that apartment. They’re not living separately in the temple. They’re being…
Prabhupada: That is to be discouraged. What do you think?
Giriraja: I agree.
Prabhupada: In Los Angeles it is very freely going on. In the name of Vaisnavism they are drawing salary, living comfortably, having sense enjoyment. This is not good, not at all. So you all high officers, you think over it and do the needful.
Tamala Krsna: Vairagya should be cultivated.
Prabhupada: Vairagya… Caitanya Mahaprabhu says clearly that niskincanasya bhagavad-bhajanonmukhasya. The bhagavad-bhajana, to become devotee of the Lord, means he’s disgusted with this material world.
(Conversation: Vairagya, Salaries, and Political Etiquette – April 28, 1977, Bombay)
The system of management will go on as it is now. There is no need of changing.
(Discussions – May 20-22, 1977, Vrndavana)
Satsvarupa: Then we made resolutions concerning the public relations. One is that each temple president will instruct the devotees that as each devotee approaches people in any way he is acting as a public relations representative for Srila Prabhupada. At least one day a week there must be chanting and food distribution in public performed by each temple.
(Room Conversation with GBC members – March 2-3, 1977, Mayapura)
Foolish rascals are described in Bhagavad-gita as mayayapahrta-jnanah, which indicates that although they are superficially educated, maya has taken their real knowledge away. Such people are presently leading human society. In Srimad-Bhagavatam they are also described as andha yathandhair upaniyamanah. These rascals are themselves blind, and yet they are leading others who are blind. When people follow such leaders, they suffer unlimited pains in the future.