(Kadamba Kanana Swami, 21 April 2014, Korsnas, Stockholm, Sweden, Srimad Bhagavatam 1.17.2)
To try being a devotee in this age is like struggling against the current. All around us, nothing is designed for spiritual life. This is the situation – that we are not supported. Srila Prabhupada used to say that one should maintain himself with a maximum of six hours of work. Tell that to your employer! That’s not the case now and more time is required for less pay. With crisis impending, people work overtime without pay, just to keep the job. So exploitation is the motto. Less facilities and more taxation!
Bhagavatam describes the symptoms of the age of kali like that. People will be taxed in so many ways that at one point, they will hide in the forest. We can see that already; there is direct taxation and indirect taxation which is basically making it impossible. Governments are not concerned with the well-being of people – that is a demoniac government.
Appropriate leadership means that one takes the interest of one’s dependents to heart. We can see that vedic leaders were able to inspire people to follow them because they were trying to engage people in activities that were meant for their upliftment. This is ultimately required in our communities, to have such kind of leadership.
One person was pointing out that you cannot just identify the person in the top position as a leader but that actually everyone has to be a leader, in his own field. Everyone has a duty to lead by example and to be an inspirational person to others. It’s not just one person; that is a fact.
This is one mistake that was made in our movement after the departure of Srila Prabhupada. They tried to push some men upwards to become “super-leaders”. These men were meant to be perfect, pure, absolutely faultless and no one else was meant to be like that. They were just meant to drive everything. But that is not actually how the Sankirtan movement will progress.
We need a broad basis of spiritual leadership for this movement to be a success where everyone takes responsibility. Seniority comes automatically with time! With time, one becomes a senior member of the community, they are due more respect than previously and it increases… But this is hollow, meaningless and external if with it, we are not taking more responsibility for spiritual leadership. That is the essence in any position.
It doesn’t matter what we do in this movement, we have to see ourselves as a spiritual leader and somehow or other, guide people. So much has been made of preaching and preaching has sometimes been seen as propaganda – and maybe there is an element of propaganda – but it is really about being an acarya. About being one who is of exemplary behaviour; this is our process.
When that is not there, then our movement is very weak. Therefore Prabhupada said that everyone should at least become madyam adhikari. The kanista adhikari is basically looking at the desired standard of behaviour and thinking that this is impossible, “I should be acting like this. I knoooow but what to do, it’s not realistic…its not practical. Is nice theoretical but you know, there is no bearing on reality.”
The reason is because the kanista adhikari doesn’t have real faith. A ka-nista means weak determination or weak faith… weak faith that Krsna consciousness will fulfill all desires and is therefore always saying, “Well what if I put all my faith into following the standards of Krsna consciousness and then what if I’m not successful? What if I don’t become a pure devotee? Then I will not get the highest ecstasies of krsna prema and all that… and then? But meanwhile I’ve given up all my material pleasures. That means that I will get nothing! I will not get the spiritual ecstasy nor will I get the material ecstasy! That’s not a good idea! Therefore let me just play safe. I’ll hold on to my material enjoyment until I get a higher taste and when Krsna gives me a higher taste, then I’ll give it up!”
So this is kanista, not ready to give up the material securities. Therefore he is prakrita bhakta, a devotee who holds on to material enjoyment – not giving it up although he knows he should but is instead waiting, ”Krsna please give me some ecstasy first!”
Whereas what Krsna is asking is:sarva-dharman parityajya mam ekam saranam vraja aham tvam sarva-papebhyo mokshayishyami ma sucah, (Bg 18.66)
Just abandon all varieties of activity, surrender unto Me. I will deliver you from all the reactions of your sinful activities. Do not FEAR! So Krsna is asking for surrender first.
This is the madhyam adhikari, the intermediate devotee who has firm faith:śraddhā’-śabde – viśvāsa kahe sudṛḍha niścaya kṛṣṇe bhakti kaile sarva-karma kṛta haya, (CC Madhya Lila 22.62)
He has sudṛḍha niścaya, the firm conviction that if he takes up spiritual life according to the directions of Krsna that all good will come in his life. That is the point and that is the level to which we must come. We must be ready to put our faith in Krsna’s words.