A: When Srila Prabhupada was asked once by a reporter how big the Hare Krsna movement is, his answer was “as big as you can think”.
Indeed, any attempt to establish a membership list for the members of ISKCON would result in a fiasco. There is no way to administer and register the decision of an individual soul to surrender to the Supreme Lord. It is to the degree one is ready to regulate and finally purify ones material desires, one becomes a devotee. Originally, we are all devotees, but most of us forgot. To the degree the process of memory and the consequent eagerness to serve Krsna is revived, to that degree one can be considered to be a member of Srila Prabhupada’s movement.
Some come and some go. Some take part and some don’t take part again.
The minute free will of the conditioned soul, which is confirming our eternal personality, cannot be violated.Krsna Himself granted it to us and it is up to us either to use it in proper way or violate it.
To establish that one becomes a bhakta by filling certain amount of papers only, is a sign of a very poor preaching spirit.
Srila Prabhupada was concerned that the supremely personal way He was preaching will be preserved and protected by future generations of preachers as well. He wanted us “to manage only little bit, just what is necessary” and not allow the administration to replace and finally choke up the progressive preaching. Therefore, he wanted everybody to stay in the fire of preaching one way or another, either directly by joining hare nama or book distribution, or in supporting way by becoming a manager. He even wrote that initiation should be preserved only for those who are preaching actively. Sympathizers can progress on their own pace, be encouraged to chant and assist the active preachers.
Persons join persons. Those who are in favor of impersonalism join systems and rituals, which they hope may give them some social status and economic benefits within an pseudo-spiritual institution.
Any active preacher can understand that it is the personal exchange, which sparks enthusiasm of a potential “member” of Srila Prabhupada’s ISKCON. When this personal exchange becomes non-existent either by dint of unnecessary bureaucracy or over-collection of disciples, unqualified renegades who are accumulated due to voracious initiation greed, regardless of the growing numbers in the databases of individual administrators, no preaching effect can be seen. There will be no change in lives of those who are administered by persons whose life didn’t change either.
Spiritual life is a constant process of purification and evolvement from the present conditioned state to the state of total reformation of consciousness. The final result is active devotional service. As Srila Prahupada points out after hearing Bhagavad Gita, Arjuna was ready for battle and didn’t sit idly. He had to do his part as well and fight,.God helps those who help themselves.
Therefore, publishing more and more papers in name of “education” with no tangible result in form of active preaching is another dead-end-road to be driven by those who actually still clinch to their material identities.
Such arrogant over-intelligent fellows claim that the work of active preachers is performed by “fanatics” or “uneducated simpletons” who don’t know the art of word jugglery.
True, not all sankirtan devotees may be skilled speakers or even academically educated. Srila Prabhupada spoke always in their defense, pointing out that even a man who is illiterate may be enthused to start schools so other can learn what he cannot do. After all, all members of the Vedic society are finally supportive to the brahminical class of men, even their standards may be not of the same nature. Finally, Krsna Consciousness doesn’t depend on academic merit of the practitioner. This point was made by Srila Prabhupada repeatedly.
In moments of temptation, it will be seen who will be able to control his senses and whose material propensities are more regulated.
Any sankirtan devotee, standing the whole day on the street, distributing Srila Prabhupada’s books, MUST be able to control his senses, and abstain from the raging material desires sprouting from his heart, disturbing his mind. Chanting the glories of the Supreme Lord all the time, he is the real yogi and not the one who hides from public, the paper publisher, the “vimukta maninah bhakta”, being liberated in his mind only.
And so being a member of Srila Prabhupada’s ISKCON is not a stationery position but corresponds to the level of our eagerness to serve the purpose of Srila Prabhupada's mission. Kanista adhikari class of men will never understand that. They will be always envious and antagonistic when seeing the work of active preachers.