(Interview with HH Devamrita Swami Maharaj on “Care for Leaders”)
On Srila Prabhupada’s care for leaders in ISKCON
Firstly Srila Prabhupada rarely chastised his leaders in public, he would correct them behind the closed doors. Secondly Srila Prabhupada was very grateful to his disciples thinking that his Guru Maharaj has sent them to assist him in spreading the mission of his Guru Maharaj. I would say gratitude & appreciation is such an important part of devotee care.
On leaders need care
As the days pass & devotees become leaders in the society if they are not firm in their own practice then there is chance of drifting away from the path of Bhakti. In my own experience I have seen this…like there was one leader who was not chanting his daily japa & in other case the devotee who was very enthusiastic in the early days but later on became weak & drifted away from the process. Hence leaders also need to be cared by their peers.
On Leaders not finding genuine satisfaction & joy
The main problem is pride, sense of achievement. And to get rid out of this very subtle enemy, one has to earnestly pray to Lord to not get trapped by Pride. In the history of our society many leaders have faced this & they left the process, so we should learn from their mistake & we should be praying for their well-being.
Five main areas of Caution for Leaders
1) Pride- Which creeps in very subtly so one has to constantly beg to Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu that I am a tiny servitor. 2) Isolation- Our leaders should find out proper association of devotees & avoid being isolated. 3) Envy- Srila Prabhupada would say envy means indirect appreciation. So we have to convert this to direct appreciation & we have to be always grateful to Prabhupada. 4) Inattentiveness to necessary spiritual nourishment due to being busy in serving Krishna- We should be attached for doing what Krishna likes & avoid what we like. 5) Not taking sufficient shelter of Dham- In order to recharge ourselves spiritually from preaching activities we have to spent enough time in the Holy Dham’s.
Five top ways of sharing care for Leaders
1) Empathy- We have to understand what problems other leaders are undergoing, dealing with situations & so many services they are rendering in the mission of Srila Prabhupada & accordingly we have to be empathetic towards them.
2) Patience- When we want to discuss some organizational problems with any other leader then we have to be patient in getting the response.
3) Respectful disagreement- We have to understand why a particular leader dealt with some problem a particular way & then we can offer another opinion or feedback respectfully.
4) Good leadership depends on good followers- Prabhupada said one can be a good leader when one has good competent followers & good follower doesn’t mean mindless robot but it just means maturely looking at the situations.
5) Allowing leader to have some space periodically- Leader needs some downtime where one can recharge oneself by seeking out association of devotees to chant, read & hear Srimad Bhagavatam etc.
Taking care of Leaders especially preaching in western Countries
Srila Prabhupada said our temples in Holy Dhams are specially meant for leaders who are preaching in western countries. So, we need to spend enough time in the Holy Dhams in order to rejuvenate ourselves. Our leaders should take proper shelter of Holy Dhams very regularly.
Important changes to be made for better care for Leaders
Every leader should demonstrate for arranging peer association which will inspire each other to practice Bhakti very enthusiastically and associating with peers is not a material social skill but its divine empowerment that we have to beg to Krishna for it. And in such association, we learn so many things from each other.