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Questionable collection tactics and shows of Devotion

From the life of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta
Saraswati Thakur Prabhupada
At the Cuttack maöha there was one sannyäsé
whose methods of collecting were not very pleasing
to Saraswati Thakur. Sometimes this sannyäsé
would tell people that the maöha had thousands
and thousands of brahmacärés, that they also ran
a leper colony which had one thousand lepers,
that they ran a students’ hostel, and that they fed
the poor. All of this was, of course, untrue, and
Saraswati Thakur did not approve.
On one occasion, the same sannyäsé went to the
market and collected many things from Marwaris
(a wealthy business community in India). He told
one such businessman, “We have three hundred
brahmacärés, so give three hundred vests,” which
he got. Being very elated, and thinking that Saraswati
Thakur would be pleased, when he arrived
at the gate of the maöha, he started calling out in a
loud voice, to attract everyone’s attention, “Jaya!
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Goswami Maharaja
ki jaya! However, Srila Saraswati Thakur was
so upset that he fasted that whole day.
On another occasion the same devotee arranged
for many gåhasthas from the Midnapur
district to take hari-näma initiation. However,
Saraswati Thakur said they were disciples of
that sannyäsé and not his. “He is trying to have
many people take hari-näma from me, but actually
they are his disciples. I don’t need so many
so-called disciples. He is bringing so many
insincere people for show only,” he said.
This same sannyäsé once went to the income
tax officer and said, “Please help us to collect
from the Marwaris,” knowing that the Marwariswere generally wealthy. The idea was that if
the income tax officer went with him, they
might be intimidated into giving good donations.
However, the income tax officer refused,
saying, “This is not proper.” The sannyäsé then
said, “Well at least let me take your car, now
that I’ve come, so I can get back to the maöha.”
The income tax officer granted this, but the
sannyäsé went back to the maöha via the bazaar,
and, without the income tax officer’s knowing,
started collecting donations from the Marwaris.
Seeing the income tax officer’s car, they felt
there was some kind of threat, and so they gave
profusely, including money, dhotis, and so many
other things. Then he returned to the maöha. When
Saraswati Thakur heard how he had made this
collection he became angry like fire and arranged
to have everything returned. He used to say,
“kariläm sannyäsé hoy, gelo viläsi — I made them
sannyäsés but they’ve all become sense enjoyers.”
Of course, not all the sannyäsés were like this.
Some were and some weren’t. ·
— From an unpublished biography on Srila Bhaktisiddhanta
Saraswati by Sri Srimad Bhakti Vikas Swami Maharaja.

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