Touched by Tribhuvanatha Dasa
Ranchor, Addha, and Kirti Kishor Prabhus brought tears to my eyes with their remembrances of Tribhuvanatha Prabhu [Jan/Feb, 2003], whom I met in 1971 in London, where he was the temple president. Because Prabhupada and Syamasundara, who was then in charge of ISKCON in the U.K., were traveling abroad, the eighteen-year-old Tribhuvanatha was responsible for Prabhupada's movement in London. During the months we worked together in England, Tribhuvanatha impressed me deeply.
In 1978 we met in India, and he related stories about going to "boom boom Beirut," a city plagued with artillery fire. Again he touched me.
Although I saw him infrequently over thirty years, I followed his career with strong interest. My life has been enriched by his wonderful example, by his enthusiasm, austerity, and determination. However, beyond these great qualities, he was really loveable. For that reason I carry him in my heart.
New York, New York
Worthy of Praise by All
I read with pleasure the glorification of Tribhuvanatha Dasa in the latest issue of BTG. I want to share my impression of His Grace and why he touched so many.
I recall when I returned from India my first time in August 1971, I stopped over in London to see Srila Prabhupada, who was celebrating Vyasa Puja there at that time. I was ill and had to be hospitalized. Tribhuvanatha came to the hospital every day withprasadam for me, and he sat and read Srimad-Bhagavatam and other books to me while I rested. His bright smile and affection were not at all official, but rather the genuine appearance of a loving devotee of Sri Sri Radha-Londonisvara (the deities of the London temple). Even though Srila Prabhupada was present in the London temple at that time, Tribhuvanatha graciously sacrificed his own precious time with Srila Prabhupada to visit me each day. I cannot forget his wonderful personality.
In the last few months before his passing, he and I communicated by e-mail several times. He was well aware of his impending death. He was not afraid, nor did he want to be a bother to others. Knowing as he does that Sri Krsna takes many forms, including that of death, there is nothing for the devotee to fear. Indeed, Srila Prabhupada taught us to see Krsna in everything, not least of which is the time of death.
Although Tribhuvanatha Dasa is well remembered for his dedicated organization of Krsna conscious programs throughout Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, he is also well remembered by his friends and well-wishers as a warm, friendly, self-sacrificing devotee of the highest order. He never looked to be praised himself, although he is worthy to be praised by all. He will be sorely missed by those whose lives he touched.
Pusta Krsna Dasa
Santa Cruz, California
ISKCON and Child Abuse
Recently, on the ABC News Web site, there was a transcript of a television broadcast describing some troubling allegations of child abuse in the ISKCON-run schools during the '70s and '80s. I am a follower of Lord Krsna and am currently reading the works of Srila Prabhupada, which I have been very impressed with. So I find these allegations deeply troubling, especially as I have a young son. The broadcast seemed rather biased in its reporting, but the people interviewed seemed sincere.
I have studied ISKCON history, both pro and con, and this subject has come up, but I did not realize that there was a current court case with a damage claim in the millions of dollars. The broadcast led me to believe that this was really serious. Yes? Or just bunk?
Durham, North Carolina
REPLY BY Dhira Govinda Dasa of the ISKCON Central Office of Child Protection: Mistreatment of children has been found to be an unfortunate reality in many organizations and societies, and regrettably ISKCON has not been immune to it. It is true that there is a current court case connected with allegations of child maltreatment in ISKCON during past decades.
An essential Vaisnava principle is protection of children, and any form of neglect or maltreatment of children and youth is contrary to Vedic values. In the past decade, since discovering the problem, ISKCON has taken steps to prevent and rectify it. In 1998 the ISKCON Central Office of Child Protection (ICOCP) was established. In cooperation with state governments and social service authorities, the office investigates and adjudicates past and present cases of alleged child maltreatment connected with ISKCON. The ICOCP helps ISKCON temples and schools institute child-protection education programs for children, parents, managers, and all members of temple communities. The office also helps temples and schools set up screening procedures for staff and volunteers and develop community child-protection teams. Additionally, the office has operated a grant program, for purposes such as educational development and mental-health therapy, for youth who were mistreated when they were children under the care of ISKCON.
How Can God Be Born?
I am a scholar at the University of Cape Town (South Africa) and have recently become quite interested in the teachings of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. I was somewhat pleased with the opportunity to read the compilation of interviews, lectures, and essays contained in the publication The Science of Self-Realization. But after reading a certain distance into the chapter titled "Real Advancement Means Knowing God," I became completely disillusioned and could no longer bear to read further. What propelled me to place the book aside and to construct this e-mail was the proceeding paragraph (about the infinite and unlimited strength of the All-mighty): "His strength was present from the moment of His birth. When Krsna was only three months old."
What do you mean when God was "only three months old"? God the son of whom? Surely His father must have been the Divine Creator and not Krsna whom, it seems to be suggested in the text of His Divine Grace, was created himself.
In many religious texts, God refers to Himself as the "One that was, the One that is, and the One that shall be." Stating that God was born seems to purport that there was a stage prior to His "creation" and thus necessarily negates who God "was." If that is so, then surely one may begin to question who God "is," and if at all He "shall be."
Cape Town, South Africa
REPLY BY Krsna-krpa Dasa: Krsna is described in the Vedic scriptures to be God Himself. He always exists in the spiritual world in His original spiritual form, and He comes here on occasion. Great devotees of the Lord play the role of His father and mother, and thus He enjoys playing as a child, and His parents enjoy the pleasure of serving Him.
Because He is unlimited, naturally Krsna's birth and activities are difficult for us limited beings to understand. The great saint Queen Kunti praises Lord Krsna in this way: "Of course it is bewildering, O soul of the universe, that You work, though You are inactive, and that You take birth, though You are the vital force and the unborn."
God seems to take birth, but factually He always exists in His spiritual form. Although Krsna stayed in human society for 125 years, His spiritual body looked no older than sixteen years. And because He is God Himself, His body is full of all spiritual potencies even when He seems to be just three months old.
These are important topics. Krsna says in the Bhagavad-gita that one who understands the transcendental nature of His birth and activities does not have to accept a material body, but can return to Him in the spiritual world at the end of this life.
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