Alexander Shenkar: I have a question. So, I’ve heard a lot from senior devotees the idea that Srila Prabhupada’s mercy and grace is only available within the ISKCON institution, and for devotees who might want to serve Srila Prabhupada outside of the ISKCON managerial institution structure, that – yes – Prabhupada would be pleased with their service, but Prabhupada’s complete grace and mercy will be absent in those situations and that if you really really want to please Srila Prabhupada – if you really want to get his complete mercy – then that is only available within the ISKCON institution. And my question is: Would you agree with that? Is that true?
Ravindra Svarupa: Prabhupada sometimes allowed people who left the institution and godbrothers, but still followed. He encouraged them to still follow. So he didn’t say they were cut off completely. But, if you want to please the spiritual master… I mean you also have this idea of an organization. Organization we know is hard. But organization means it’s a false, I mean, a force multiplier. If there are five of us who want to do something, we may go on and each do something, each of us by ourselves. But if we work together and we organized, the five of us could have the effect of twenty people working independently. So if you care for fallen conditioned souls, if you really have a sense of urgency for bringing people back to Godhead, then you will work with others. If you can’t do it, ok, that’s second best and it doesn’t mean you’re completely cut off from Srila Prabhupada if you’re following his orders. You can still be saved by him. But if you see what Prabhupada went through for this movement, what he put up with, what he dealt with… I mean, he had very early disciples try to take it [the ISKCON movement] away from him. His godbrothers tried to subvert it. All kinds of things happened and what he went through. And one thing that keeps me loyal to ISKCON is not so much ISKCON itself sometimes but just what Prabhupada went through to put it together, and that’s how I feel about it. But you’re right. It’s not the only way.
Alexander Shenkar: So would you agree that Srila Prabhupada’s complete grace and mercy is only available within the ISKCON institution?
Ravindra Svarupa: No, I wouldn’t. It’s not only available. But if you want to say complete grace and complete mercy then you follow his order and do the thing that pleases him the most. You surrender. What do you want me to do? I’m your servant. The word for servant is sanskrit is kimkar. You say “kim” – what do you want me to do? And if he says work in ISKCON, then if you are the servant that’s what you do. If you get guidance some other way, it’s ok.
Alexander Shenkar: So it sounds like you’re saying that “Yes, you’ll get Prabhupada’s mercy and grace but if you want the complete mercy and grace, then it’s only available in ISKCON.
Ravindra Svarupa: I will not judge on independent cases. But I’m just saying that as a general principle Prabhupada was very very, always encouraging people to work together. That was generally the thing he said that would please him the most. But people that didn’t – you know – he didn’t reject them.