Dear Śrīla Prabhupāda,
Please accept my humble obeisances in the dust of your lotus feet. All glories unto you.
nama oṁ viṣṇu-pādāya kṛṣṇa-preṣṭhāya bhū-tale
śrīmate bhaktivedānta-svāmin iti nāmine
namas te sārasvate deve gaura-vāṇī-pracāriṇe
Vyāsa-pūjā day is your day of celebration. Bringing before you the fruits of our hard labors. Will you be pleased? Are we fulfilling your plan to make the world Kṛṣṇa conscious?
Not today. With all humility and regret I must inform you I have no assets to lay at your lotus feet. This year I came before you embarrassed. A fool offering excuses for his mistakes. Asking forgiveness for offenses commited.
Once I thought I understood what it meant to be Kṛṣṇa conscious. I thought I knew the formula to spread Kṛṣṇa consciousness. I thought I understood your instructions implicitly. In matters of preaching, management and book distribution I was confident. I thought myself a natural leader of men. I was bald, I had a clear picture of myself and where I was going. I thought I knew you and I thought I was getting to know Kṛṣṇa. In fact I was fairly confident that I was Kṛṣṇa conscious. I was in tune with what needed to be known. Not only that, but others were also led to beleive that I was a devotee of merit.
Yet in recent years things have taken a turn. Events have forced me to reasses who I am and what my relation is with you.
I have seen your disciples climb unto high seats. Taking the post of ācārya (as exclusive guru for a geographical area) become overwhelmed by the alurements of the post, in imitation of you. I saw one fall down. Without clearly understanding the issues we replaced him with another. Once again I was unable to assist him and he too fell down.
Though I received advice, I could not discriminate between right and wrong. I held on to dogmas and slogans, rather than clearly understanding your instructions.
Against my better judgement I did not speak up. And let a great preaching asset of England be sold. We sent Pañca Tattva thousands of miles away. And I thought the saṅkīrtana spirit would go. Unimpeeded simply by a jugglery of words.
You have emphasised countless times the importance and economic viability of book distribution. But we established business in our temples and sold candles, records and paintings. And I saw bright faced preachers turn into salesmen. Our society has all but lost its public presence, while book distribution is waning.
I saw the development of an international corporate structure. Draining vast sums of money from your projects, we were too clever to have fallen into another trap. But we did and still to date I do not know how much of your life blood was squandered.
To organize your society we tried to establish a parliamentary structure that could manage a country. But we were struggling to maintain two temples. Rather than follow your system, giving autonomy to the local temple presidents, power was given to zonal demagogues who issued decrees and favours to all below. And in the name of spreading Kṛṣṇa consciousness we foolishly supported arrogance and pride. Rained lavish worship on bewildered devotees to compete with you. I revealed my ignorance of who you are, and who we are, though I had good advice of many godbrothers.
Building high walls about our zone we isolated ourselves from the rest of the family. Then we threw stones, although we were living in houses of glass. While we live in a society with differing roles according to our āśramas. I was so foolish I thought we could trangress the etiquette of our status. Even though you have so clearly explained everything. And all around me I see the corpses of fallen sannyāsīs. Now I must reasses my behaviour and get back to the basis.
And through the turmoil I stuck to my service. Whatever it was. Who knows what I made of it. Preaching and leading devotees. Going forward to the charge, my mirrored blinkers ever in place, doing my duty and…
And then I saw that I had become ISKCON’s Don Quiote. Looking around many devotees who I recognized well, were not following. They had seen much, heard enough and suffered. In my naive eagerness to serve you I had forgotten that devotees were people. They had hearts, and minds, and an opinion of who I was. No longer would they be coerced or bullied. They want to be moved by the loving force you expertly showered upon us. And we were willing to do anything for you. I see that I have lost the faith of many friends. In the plight of my loneliness I now start to think.
So busy in the past. So sure; and trusting, so foolish. So foolish I did not take the time to carefully think things out and decide myself. Is this what Prabhupāda wants? But as my old world is collapsing around me, I am retracing my steps to see where I went wrong.
Haunted by my own ghosts, tears in my eyes, the only one hope, that you have not given up on me.
I have made mistakes. The preaching has suffered, as have others, as have I. And no doubt most of all you. Others have lost faith in me. So have I, I do not know what reactions I will suffer for neglecting my duties. My only lifeline, my faith in you and your instructions, which I didn’t take the time to carefully understand or apply.
But I will continue trying, as long as you want me too. With the association of your followers I will try to give up my foolishness and do as I do. Now I am finishing my offering. The last thing left to do.
I fall at your lotus feet. I am a great, great fool. An offender to you, your society and followers. I don’t know if I am sincere. But I beg you to please forgive my mistakes. Numerous as they are. I can live with my mistakes (of the past) but not without your mercy. A millions times I pray, please be merciful unto me.
Within I have an ongoing drive to do something for you. Because I’m a fool, I have caused havoc. I do not want any position. If you wish, let me take a book bag and just be a simple soldier. If your punishment is more responsibility, please force open my eyes that I may execute it properly. Humble me in any way you like. I am your manial lowly servant.
My request if I may be so bold, as of your magnanimity, make me a useful instrument in your hands.
Now I beg your leave. Here we open another ISKCON year. I do not have the confidence to make promises. At this point I can only beg. Śrīla Prabhupāda, let me be in your society next year. Serving you in any capacity. Let me be more aware of your instructions, bolder to stand up for the truth. Let me be more considerate of the feelings of others and increasingly more conscious of you.
GBC England and Hungary