“ISKCON” Gurus, Initiations, and Party Men Part 5

By Kailasa Candra dasa

The “GBC” and Guru Inflation

The turn of the century saw the Second Transformation still in full force, as the Guardian of Bureaucratic Corruption created buffer after buffer to act as an effective sentry, protecting its vested interests in the form of committees, subcommittees, seminars, show-bottle appointments, and various position papers. This was exactly befitting the sophisticated campus politics everywhere present in their adaptation now functioning as a gold-plated collegial institution. This paradigm kept all the devotees engaged in many superficial concerns; they could not radically question what was at the root of problematic manifestations. Even devotees on the fringe were mostly swept up in the fervor of this apparent spirit of cooperation.

Nevertheless, those devotees who did not buy into the supposed glories of the collegiate reformation still knew very well what that root was: It was the deviation of the “GBC.” The Guardian of Bureaucratic Corruption, right from the gate, was completely entangled in the appointment of gurus. This entanglement ran against all Vaishnava principles and against the very nature of the parampara itself. No board of conditioned souls can determine who is guru and institutionalize its decisions in such an unauthorized capacity--not according to parampara.

The “GBC” did this in 1978, and, despite modifications that amount to nothing more than deceptive obfuscations, it is still cent-per-cent entangled in the same pernicious activity at this time. First it was out-and-out appointment by unanimous consensus, particularly by the “Acharya Board.” Then, that was modified to voting by members of the body; indeed, in the mid-Eighties, one of its “new gurus” captured the gadi by only one vote. Since he himself voted on that motion, in effect, he voted himself to the position of guru. But this nescient process soon began to reap a backlash.

So, another modification was adapted: “No three blackballs.” In effect, you could make a motion to the governing body as to your desire to become a recognized guru of “ISKCON.” As long as there were not three commissioners who were against you, then your motion passed. This process also received warranted criticism in due course of time. As such, another fix-it-as-you-go modification was concocted: The No-Objection Certificate, which is current to this day. As per this arrangement, the prospective institutional guru makes his proposal, the Guardian of Bureaucratic Corruption decides upon a waiting period for him (usually one or two years) and then, if he keeps his nose clean and remains loyal, it issues a No Objection Certification for but another new institutionalized guru.

However, please note that this whole process, throughout its devolution, is completely unauthorized. If Srila Prabhupada sees that one of his devotees has reached the right stage--and that can be as high or as basic as Prabhupada deems fit--and if he orders that devotee to become a spiritual master and initiate new devotees into the line, no governing body has any right to interfere with the transcendental process. If the “GBC” had remained bona fide--and, as we have repeatedly and clearly shown throughout this treatise, it has not--then it would still have the right to be, as Prabhupada so perfectly put it, “a watchdog.” And that would be the only right it would have in relation to people claiming to be gurus.

In other words, if the commission had remained legitimate, it would have retained both the authority and power to crush the influence of any congregational member who was acting as if he were guru, when clearly he was not up to the standard. Instead, the “GBC” did just the opposite: It institutionalized who could be guru and allowed so many rascals to act as so-called Acharyas--that is, until their egregious behavior reached such an intolerable point that even the institution was jeopardized by letting them carry on.

As such, as far as “ISKCON” goes, the current situation can best be termed “guru inflation.” Since the late Seventies, there have been approximately one hundred “gurus” either appointed, or voted in, or not blackballed, or having been issued their no-objection certification. By rough count, at least forty of these have given up the gadi, either by choice or by force. This clearly shows that something is fundamentally wrong, but another devastator has been almost universally adopted in order to keep that reality masked. That devastator is: “Only two of the original eleven have not fallen down.”

First of all, maha-bhagavats do not fall down. Oh sure, you can use the Bharata Maharaj pastime, or you can say that a maha-bhagavat might stumble into Mayavadi literature and go for it, but all of that is completely superfluous and irrelevant. The reality is that maha-bhagavats do not fall down. They do not fall down because they are experiencing bliss that is thousands and thousands of times superior to the happiness achieved by materially successful human beings. Maha-bhagavats are not attracted by such low-grade forms of earthly happiness; they are not even slightly inclined to it. Neither do they take pleasure in Vaishnava-aparadha. The consciousness of the maha-bhagavat is situated fully in the pastimes of the Supreme Lord in the spiritual world, and there is no possibility of his falling down from that state of ever-increasing, never-ending bliss. It simply does not happen.

The eleven pretender maha-bhagavats were all completely fallen to the level of sahajiyas as soon as they became Zonal Acharyas (or before that). Their level of happiness was mundane, albeit different from all other conditioned souls. So, you cannot use this warped idea that two of them, as of 2008, have not yet fallen down. Those two are still sahajiyas, despite the fact that they have not engaged in, or have not been caught in, flagrant or egregious manifestations of deviant or sinful behavior.

Similarly, all of the “new gurus” who followed the Zonals were deviants; most of them have not been as egocentric and flamboyant, that’s all. None of those newer fellows were genuine gurus for even one moment. So, if the forty percent figure is used for those from that new guru constituency (guru inflation) who renounced the more recent pretense, that does not make that forty percent the only ones that are now fallen. The actual rate of falldown is one hundred percent for all of these so-called gurus. And the “GBC” cent-per-cent continues to be implicated in the whole deviation. Cheap gurus. Cheap disciples. This syndrome will continue, and the next stage will be guru hyperinflation.


Power of the Party Men

The “ISKCON” movement is nothing more than an organized religion. It is a kaitava-dharma as opposed to the mleccha-dharmas of the West. India is loaded with many kaitava-dharmas, and the “ISKCON” international movement is following in the footsteps of that grand tradition; it is not following any Vaishnava parampara or tradition. This “ISKCON” organized religion is composed of incorrigible Party Men, and their exact number is hard to determine, because new ones are being added all of the time. The Party Men at the topmost echelon are the real controllers of this organized religion, and they are not entirely mundane fellows.

Indeed, as far as astral powers are concerned, they are not ordinary men. They are like the brain police, and they control almost all the other devotees; powerful Party Men even have the ability to influence malcontents. One such upper-echelon Party Man, who is very prominent in the movement, told me in the early Nineties that I had lost faith in the “GBC,” and my disillusionment with that authority structure figuratively constituted a cracked China bowl. In effect, you cannot put a cracked China bowl back together again. You can do it, but it will never look nearly as good as it originally was; it will never look the same. These are some of the techniques of the Party Men, who are masters at creating doubt and guilt, masters of deception, masters at bewilderment, masters at enticement, masters at pseudo-persuasion, and, when the situation calls for it, masters at harassment and various psychic punishments. They have their own spheres, both gross and subtle.

The various followers, who are weak in knowledge, mind control, and yogic development, can hardly escape the network of the Party Men once they become entangled in it. The Party Men buttress this astral network via the buildings, Deities, vehicles, properties, and money on the gross plane, and those innocent but foolish devotee followers are completely trapped by them and their manifestations. If such neophytes try to escape, ultimately they have to contend with danda from the Party Men. Take it from one who knows: You will not come out unscathed when the Party Men decide to punish you. But all the mud they have thrown on so many people is now starting to get tossed back their way, and that momentum will continue. There is a universal law involved in that: Some call it the law of karma.

At this point, an objection might be raised. The reader might protest that this treatise is “too negative.” Is it so? Well, we first must know what constitutes “negativity.” New Agers used to say: “Do not be judgmental; no negativity.” However, if we analyze that motto, we see that it is itself composed of three negative components. The issue is not objective negativity; the issue is the application of negativity.

When a surgeon removes a cancerous tumor, the bloody operation involves quite a bit of negative action. However, if successful, that outcome is judged very positive. So the modus-operandi takes a back seat to the outcome, as far as the final judgment is concerned, especially when the operation is a success (this, by the way, is a proper example of Prabhupada’s phalena-pariciyate statements). Remember the sloka that began our article: We are delineating the process of nescience for your spiritual well-being, and, ultimately, so that you “ . . . can transcend the influence of repeated birth and death and enjoy the full blessings of immortality.” The “GBC” is part of the process of nescience. The “ISKCON” it controls is, also. The process of recognizing gurus in “ISKCON” is integral to the power of the Party Men, who serve to keep everyone they can implicated in their nescience.


Lilamrita” and the Book Changes

And that brings us to the very worst of the worst: The book changes. The so-called Lilamrita constitutes an unparalleled offense against the Sampradaya Acharya, but something tops even the Lilamrita as far as offense is concerned. This offense is also an on-running publishing reality, but it could possibly have legs far beyond the duration with which the Lilamrita is destined to bewilder people about the real glories of Srila Prabhupada.

The books have been changed. They have not merely been corrected; they have actually been changed. And this most heinous of all heinous actions constitutes the greatest devolutionary development in the aftermath of the disappearance of His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada, the transcendental author of those original powerful and pure publications.

Ostensibly, as the editing project was undertaken, there were many errors--particularly in the Macmillan version of the Bhagavad-gita--which needed correcting. We agree with this; Hayagriva, despite his academic accomplishments, was a rather careless editor, and the Macmillan Gita was rushed into publication in 1972. However, after Prabhupada left us, one of the first-echelon Party Men achieved “GBC” approval to re-edit all of the books. While correcting all that required correction, he has engaged in a massive editing campaign that has actually changed the wording of the original writings in hundreds if not thousands of places. Many of these changes were uncalled-for, many more were simply choices that were not necessitated by the syntax or text itself. Over and above this, many of the changes jeopardized the original meaning or reversed it. The original authority of the books has been gutted in all of these publications. The spiritual and devotional devastation for new readers and new devotees that this has produced is immeasurable, and there is not a scintilla of exaggeration in making this statement.

This is all on the “GBC”; the Party Men who make up that body all share in the responsibility of allowing Srila Prabhupada’s books to be changed. They are the ones who continue to give the governing body’s imprimatur to the Lilamrita, including the printing of a slick, colorful brochure advertising its pretended glories. In the sordid history of the “ISKCON”, these nescient publications demarcate the lowest point and greatest offense. No committee as yet has been appointed to make a comprehensive study of all of these changes in order to reverse them.

If a comprehensive history of the “ISKCON” movement were ever compiled, it would require publishing a book much larger than the most recent edition of the complete Webster’s dictionary. In this article, we are targeting some of the sordid elements. We are not delving into the “ghostbusters” saga of one of the Zonals, neither are we exploring the engagement in black magic of a latter-day guru, who became quite a caricature, imitating Prabhupada in various ways including the use of a cane. One shudders to think of the prospects of all of these spiritual master imitators. But what faces those implicated in the book changes?


Prabhupada is Now on Trial

One of the Zonals, heavily implicated in the First Transformation, kept stretching the rubber band with more and more audacity right to the end. Citing him repeatedly, E. Burke Rochford, Jr. has written about the transformation that the movement has undergone. He is in the collegiate, scholarly mode, so it is quite possible that he approves of the Second Transformation to some extent.

He is still an objective author however, and, as such, we should give some consideration to the fact that he also believes that the movement has been transformed (changed) from what it actually was during the time of Srila Prabhupada’s manifest pastimes in the West. Indeed, Rochford has recently penned a book appropriately entitled Hare Krishna Transformed. In that book, one of his chapters is called “Prabhupada on Trial.”

When the aforementioned Zonal opined, in 2004, that his agenda was ultimately different from Prabhupada’s (although the purpose was ostensibly the same--to spread Krishna Consciousness to Westerners), he revealed the real face of “ISKCON.” In written form, he asked, “Can our agenda be pushed further?” In order to promulgate the preaching and mission of his movement to “its diasporic Indian congregations (read, to the Hindus)” a radical blurring of the divide that separates personalists from impersonalists should be implemented, according to his view.

He similarly concocted that, although Prabhupada defined his mission in terms of the defeat of the Mayavadis (and almost all Hindus are under mayavada influence), this produced alienation, confusion, and offense in the abovementioned diaspora. In effect, this former Zonal, along with one of his buddies, authored a paper which advocated that a key pillar of Vaishnava preaching should be completely abandoned in the name of spreading the movement. This kind of “preaching” serves only to tear apart what little remains of the real mission.

He further backed the notion of the practitioner of bhakti-yoga being the “final arbiter” of what constitutes devotional service in time, place, and circumstance situations. In other words, his position paper makes the conditioned sadhaka the ultimate determiner of what is bona fide and what is not. It allows him to judge whether Srila Prabhupada was right or wrong on any decision, conclusion, or preaching strategy he (Prabhupada) originally sought to implement.

It covertly puts Prabhupada on trial, as astutely pointed out by Rochford. This will invariably serve to break the parampara and re-invent a so-called tradition of Vaishnavism, especially as it applies to the Western version. It is in blatant opposition to all that His Divine Grace taught us. Instead of being a humble and submissive recipient, now the so-called sadhaka decides what is true, what is false, what is best, and what is the real intention--when, in point of fact, it is nothing more than his own flawed agenda, Maya.

When the doctor prescribes the medicine, the prescription, and the dosage, the patient is supposed to follow those directions as they are. But this new agenda of the Party Men allows every devotee--as long as he or she continues to pledge allegiance to the “GBC”--to substitute his or her own agenda or intention in place of the tradition. It allows all the so-called sadhakas to substitute their feelings as paramount to the dictates of what Prabhupada attempted to establish. And it is all rooted in a misapplication of Western pragmatism. In order to achieve ephemeral, secondary, institutional objectives--with, for good measure, the “time, place, and circumstance” bugaboo added to the mix--the movement is transformed.

To say that Western culture (Anglo-American culture) is now intrinsic to “ISKCON” is to make a gross understatement. The philosophies that gird Western culture have injected themselves very powerfully into “ISKCON,” and they should be seen just for what they are. On the whole, Westerners are inclined to empiricism, thinking that the “reality” of material particulars outweighs the promise of universal truths. “ISKCON” Westerners, in the same vein, tend to be utilitarians and both misunderstand and misuse the “utility is the principle” motto.

Utilitarians think that people are fundamentally good; they just need the right social environment and education in order to make them turn out to be of useful consequence. In Kali Yuga, however, this presumption is wrong. The spirit self is good, but the ahankara and sva-bhava of Westerners is almost always evil. Vaishnava prachar and achar does not measure the good of any action by its materially beneficial results to the most people; it does not consider that any course of action that is liable to produce sense-gratificatory results on a large scale (hence good results) constitutes good behavior or indicates fundamental personal goodness.

In “ISKCON,” these Western values are accentuated in a somewhat disguised form. The cult promotes an anti-intellectual tendency that is noticeably present throughout the rank-and-file of the movement, despite its current sophisticated pension for scholasticism, pretty much reserved for its leaders. Instead of mysticism, occult realization, and spiritual purity, material results are the be-all and end-all as far as the Party Men are concerned. Pragmatism necessitates that truth is made real only by empirical or apparent verification. If there is any idea (and there are not necessarily any universal truths that hold true in all circumstances), that idea is made true if events show that it has become demonstrated as a working reality. The Party Men are spontaneously skeptical of any teaching, knowledge or wisdom--even if it is received through Prabhupada’s books and the parampara--if that teaching does not accord with the pragmatic results they desire.

So, by this perspective, God is on the side of the biggest results., i.e., the Machiavellian dictum of “Judge by the results” becomes the measure of truth. And results can be made bigger in empirical so-called reality if the ethic of pragmatism is combined effectively with “time, place, and circumstance” compromises. Such “adjustments” sometimes help non-devotees to join in and give “laxmi” to the movement. This Western pragmatic approach does not combine well with genuine Krishna Consciousness, however.

As a bogus theory of what constitutes Absolute Truth, pragmatism is empirical. It underlies all post-modern moral systems in the West, especially in its politics and sociology. It rejects all theistic notions of transcendence and innate universals or absolute ideas, but this is just what Krishna Consciousness is intrinsically composed of according to parampara. Western pragmatism powerfully permeates and pollutes the attitude of the Party Men, affording them the opportunity to coalesce when threatened by opposing views.

Parampara means the divine tradition. The devotees who believe in the parampara, who believe in its teachings, who believe in its injunctions, who believe in its principles, laws, and universals, can rightly be called conservative traditionalists. The post-modern devotees of “ISKCON” who consider pragmatic schemes to always trump the restrictions of tradition (parampara), and who are quick to employ “time, place, and circumstance” opportunities or “adjustments,” can euphemistically be called devotional pragmatists. Time, place, and circumstance rationalizations underpin both the “ISKCON” and rittvik deviations. Western culture is currently influencing these organized movements.

Although “ISKCON” has now undergone two transformations, forced to do so in order to overcome external controversies and scandals or fulfill strong desires, all of this has been blown off by the Party Men as but part of scheduled growing pains. They attribute the difficulties to nothing more than personal ambition, individual pride, and immaturity in carrying out the orders of the spiritual master. Not so.

All of these upheavals and deviations are the result of a deeper strata of contamination; at the very core, Western attitudes permeate individual conditioning within almost all of Prabhupada’s disciples. These matrices were already powerfully present in the leaders of “ISKCON” well before they actuated all this post-modern hell. There are bogus philosophies underlying all of the deviations they have introduced, and these automatically clash with the guru-parampara. At the very heart of everything that has been done is the fact that none of these men who doled out initiation was qualified to do so, and the newcomers to Krishna Consciousness need to courageously face this, to come to grips with it.

There are still some traditionalists (not many) in “ISKCON,” and, although these men have some loyalty to the institution, they are not Party Men. Neither are they sentimentalists tinged with blind faith in “ISKCON.” As such, even in the cult, there are two conflicting currents. One relies continually on pragmatism, judge-by-the-material-results, might makes right, and time-place-circumstance warpings to suit any new “preaching” agenda. The other bases its conclusions on a literal approach to what Prabhupada said and wrote. One sees continuous innovation as the key to spreading the movement far and wide; they conveniently see the phrase “time, place, and circumstances” as utilitarian, and they are prone to misuse the “utility is the principle” shibboleth. The traditionalists, on the other hand, say “time, place, and circumstance” can only be a temporary adjustment that fits very restricted circumstances and short-term situations; it has no application whatsoever in the larger issues and the teachings themselves.

This same dichotomy is found outside of “ISKCON,” also. It is particularly found amongst the rittviks, whose whole movement (make that movements) is founded upon the principle that allegedly Prabhupada created a completely new parampara and was the founder of a whole new tradition. As such, to the rittviks in general, even if they take the conservative approach regarding particulars, Prabhupada is really not the representative of an unbroken tradition. The rittviks like to think that they are following a higher shastric principle, and, as such, the traditional parampara need not be consulted. Any tradition or statement of previous Acharyas that goes against the rittvik concoction is considered irrelevant. The devotees who are actually traditionalists, who have adhered to the parampara, dispute this.

In this spiritual war, where His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada has in effect been put on trial after his departure, the fundamental values of his contribution to humanity have been severely strained and are in danger of being lost. Identifying with “ISKCON” means, at the core level, to self-identify with a mission that is more and more opposed to him. This is also the case when it comes to the rittviks and the Neo-Gaudiyas. We, as initiated disciples of the shaktyavesh-avatar, of the Sampradaya Acharya, must reaffirm our core commitment to him and to his teachings, and only to him and his teachings. We must not be swayed by the sentimentalists. We must fight the good fight and not fall victim to unauthorized pragmatic considerations that offer only short-term material results.

If you actually have this attitude, confrontation with the deviations is unavoidable.


Look for These Third Transformation Indicators

When the movement was bona fide many decades ago, the centripetal energy was all-powerful. You could always know the straight line of what was pleasing to Srila Prabhupada and what was not sanctioned by him. The boundaries of innovation were not difficult to understand. The “unity in diversity” motto was not perverted, and Absolute Truth was the underlying factor in all thought and action. Pleasing Prabhupada in terms of following the Absolute Truth was the guideline and the goal was always spiritual realization.

But, after so much deviation, after two transformations, unauthorized ways, means, and goals have been introduced into “ISKCON”; they have become integral to the very fabric of that movement. It is a mistake to think that you can find a straight line in that Society anymore, because everywhere you turn in it simply demonstrates how crooked it has all become. Now, devotees who pledge allegiance to the governing body can easily find an elastic boundary to suit their fancy, to fit in with the movement. The goal is no longer to create a completely separate alternative to Western culture; the goal is to become attractive to and compatible with Western culture. None of this represents the original intent of Srila Prabhupada.

Every now and then, however, some Truth resurfaces. Then there is generally an immediate backlash from lower echelons within the “ISKCON” movement. These sentimentalists, many of whom are also fanatics, will come forward with a new and vigorous “unity” propaganda, all centering around the misconception that cooperation with “GBC” is the platform of unity.

It is at the center of “ISKCON,” granted, but it is not at the center of genuine Krishna Consciousness. Love of “ISKCON” is not at all conducive for the development of love of Godhead, but the sentimentalists radiate a fervor opposed to that. Just as there was a Battle of the Bulge after the Allies invaded Europe, similarly, false personality defends itself--and “ISKCON” is loaded with many false personalities throughout its structure at every level. When Truth starts to surface, it’s always the lower echelons that respond first with fervent propaganda for unity and cooperation.

Nevertheless, none of it amounts to anything more than ratspit in the matter of extricating “ISKCON” from all of its on-going deviations, corruptions, and vested interests. This is because “ISKCON” is run like a business, replete with salaried Temple Presidents and all forms of cronyism. These lower echelon upsurges fade away in due course of time (remember the Centennial?), leaving the inexorable momentum of what’s really going down unaffected.

But paradigms do change in this movement; we saw that in the mid-Eighties. When the members and patrons become too disturbed by propaganda from both within and without, then, if the disturbance is great enough, that will mark a time for a change.

Will this article you are now reading initiate a crackback that invigorates the “ISKCON” movement? Possibly. But any such temporary invigoration toward cooperation and unity can never last, because the underlying current or program of that movement is sunk in deviation. “ISKCON” reactionaries will never be able to enjoy the wonderful prospects that run through their minds, because the movement they love is, in actuality, rotten to the core. It wasn’t originally, of course, but that original version cannot be rejuvenated without a revolutionary or radical attitude. The sentimentalists have neither awareness of what really happened, nor knowledge, nor the required attitude. Do not be bewildered by short-term upsurges.

However, if things get corrupt enough, a new paradigm or transformation may surface. If a new paradigm or Third Transformation helps its members forget the movement’s actual history of continuous deviation, it will serve the purpose of the Party Men. This concluding section of the treatise explores some likely scenarios and trends that may well play out if and/or when “ISKCON” adapts again, changes its paradigm, and attempts another way to overcome its endemic problems.

Do you know why “ISKCON” is run like a business? This question is not at all difficult to answer: It is run like a business, because it is a business. But it is a tricky business, because it must trick everyone into believing that it is not one. That means it must not be seen as an ever-adapting business program but, instead, as a movement that has always stuck to one paradigm. You do not need to be a prophet in order to spot some trend-lines for what may well turn out to be an upcoming Third Transformation. But you do need to be intelligent enough not to be tricked by superficial veils that will be temporarily thrown up; these are all misdirections, counterintelligence operations. The sentimentalists assist that illusion, and each Party Man (they are all sly fellows) will take full advantage of them in order to further his personal aggrandizement.

Some of the tendencies present in the First Transformation carried over completely into the Second Transformation; some of them only carried over through the transition period. We are not yet into the next transition period, but we may well be approaching it. The following list can help you to spot it:

1. Continued Corruption, Humanism, and Secularization

After the murder of Sulocana, and after three more pretender maha-bhagavats were all exposed in sexual scandals (one of them being of the homosexual variety), the Zonal Acharya pretense could no longer be maintained. The destiny of the “ISKCON” movement then moved in another material direction. The Temple Presidents were prepared to bolt if the maha-bhagavat makeshow continued--and the fringe devotees, various patrons, and all of the dissidents were also making powerful propaganda against it. The Zonal Acharya Epoch was over.

The Mars dasha was replaced by an epoch ruled by the benefic Moon. The Temple Presidents advocated a guru reform movement during this time; it was meant to expand the number of gurus. Of course, many of these Presidents, including the prominent President who penned the chief position paper, captured the gadi for themselves via this reform movement. The main scribe amongst the now debunked Zonals even created but another inane manuscript, entitled Guru Reform Notebook.

This lunar epoch did not exactly coincide with the Second Transformation, although there is an obvious synchronicity between the two of them. The Moon dasha marked a softer approach, with an explosion of communication in the form of the INTERNET. Devotees took advantage of this amenity, and, indeed, the whole world wide web has been upheld because Lord Krishna has willed it for the sake of his devotees. Belligerence and force now were no longer accepted as the main factors for determining what was true and what was not.

This lunar period lasted for a time commensurate with the previous astrological epoch, but it eventually gave way to the period we are now in: A very malefic Saturn dasha. The Publication of the abovementioned main scribe’s book, entitled Sanitorium, marked the beginning of this period of corruption and secularization; we have not yet reached its nadir. This period is marked by compromise and corruption. It is further marked by an emphasis on mundane and political objectives, lending itself to creeping secularization. The Western secular culture is far more powerful and pervasive than is the “ISKCON” culture, and the trend of the movement to blend itself into the Western culture, to develop a more secularly progressive and humanistic ethos, will become more and more apparent as this period unfolds.

Watch for this trend-line to devolve further, and note if, in its development, it no longer remains harmonious with the pulse of the Second Transformation. Indeed, if and/or when it reaches its nadir, that will mark the cusp of a Third Transformation. If and/or when the corruption in “ISKCON” reaches such a point, there will be another call for reform. In that event, there will be another rebellion--just as the murder of Sulocana was too much for the devotees to overlook and tolerate.

2. Lip Service to “GBC” Without Accountability

There is no “ISKCON” movement without at least verbal dedication and allegiance to the “GBC.” This is the sina quo non of that movement. However, the “GBC” usually only meets once per year. It tends to avoid directly taking on the hot-button issues. It consigns controversies, particularly personal disillusionments and complaints, to the jurisdiction of various committees and subcommittees; this is the collegial model, as well as the Western socialistic mode.

“GBC” supposedly overturned the high-flying guru profile over two decades ago, but that style still persists. In other words, one or more charismatic “gurus” still maintain a program whereby they are the be-all and end-all of all their disciples and followers, and the “GBC” does nothing to curtail how they are worshipped, even if they are worshipped as maha-bhagavats. There is strong anecdotal evidence, that, to this day, one of the original eleven Zonal Acharyas, although he is no longer called or considered a Zonal Acharya, takes maha-bhagavat worship from his Bengali disciples. There are also reports that others take similar adoration as well. This is supposed to be against long-standing “GBC” doctrine.

But toeing the line in accordance with uncountable and mostly forgotten “GBC” resolutions generally is not required, because there is really no enforcement mechanism outside extreme steps, such as removal of guru status, ostracism, and excommunication. There are hardly any intermediate enforcement mechanisms, if there are any at all. And there are hardly any devotees in that movement, if there are any at all, who are willing to serve in such an enforcement capacity. Knowing this, “GBC” resolutions, if they impinge or impede upon what a local guru or Temple President considers a results-oriented “preaching” program, can be easily discarded.

There has really been very little accountability in “ISKCON,” and this trend will only exacerbate as time goes on. The devotees who function within that movement’s structure have found a formula that works for them: Get results, justify whatever you do or say in terms of your “results,” and, if any situation requires it, pledge allegiance to the “GBC” as the ultimate managerial authority. The “GBC” will not bother you, unless you engage in something overtly disloyal or scandalous.

3. The Further Hinduization of “ISKCON”

Most of the devotees who are reading this treatise have been to India. Of those who have been there, most have experienced its culture more than once. If you have ever traveled throughout the villages, towns, and districts of India, you know exactly what Hinduism really is. Hinduism can be defined in many ways, but one of the most accurate or relevant ways is in terms of India itself. In India, there’s a different guru, or a different kind of temple, or a different cult or sect, or a different philosophy, or a different Deity or set of Deities practically in every different village, town, or area. Within the cities, this endlessly mutable principle is evident as you travel from district to district or from one main street to another. India is the land of practically unlimited diversity, tremendous disparity, and so many dichotomies that they could never be comprehensively cataloged. This centrifugal principle--very opposed to the centripetal principle always present in genuine Krishna consciousness--is also becoming more and more predominant in the “ISKCON” movement.

Prabhupada accurately termed this the “Hindu hodgepodge,” and “ISKCON,” which already is becoming evermore dependent upon rich Hindu patrons (not in all its Western temples, but in many of them), is slowly but surely starting to become a kind of Hindu movement, also. Sometimes, its leaders even overtly state that it is already a Hindu movement. When I was active in the movement while it was still bona fide, the Hindus had no influence whatsoever. Sometimes a family or two would come to the Sunday feast and drop a five-dollar bill in the dana box after paying their respects to the Deities. But most Sundays, or any other days of the week, there were no Indian nationals or imports visiting the temple premises--despite the fact that there was a very large Hindu contingency living in that metropolitan area.

The reason for this was not unfriendliness toward the Hindus by the devotees; the reason was the basic incompatibility of genuine Krishna consciousness with Hinduism. This distinction has blurred considerably in recent decades, and that trend-line will continue throughout the duration of this Second Transformation. If there is a Third Transformation, the inexorable Hinduism of “ISKCON” will also bleed over into it.

But the Hindus may eventually start to migrate away from the “ISKCON” temples in favor of the quasi-Vaishnava import (which is becoming more and more prominent in the West), or in favor of the Western Hindu temples popping up everywhere, especially in America. The only way to prevent such a reversal would be for the “ISKCON” leaders to acquiesce to more and more compromises with the Hindu taste, style, and generic philosophy. But they can really only go down that road for a limited time before many contradictions would become starkly apparent. Then it would be a challenge for them, because, at that point, it will have become a classic lose/lose situation. Show-bottling well-dressed Deities only goes so far.

Nevertheless, the Hindu hodgepodge had far less influence in the movement--and “ISKCON” was far less dependent upon it--at the commencement of the Second Transformation. Hinduism is now breaking down some of the underlying or subtle structure of the collegiate/cooperation model. This augurs further devolution during the Saturn dasha, the period of corruption we are now in.

4. Guru Hyperinflation/Splintering of Authority

The “ISKCON” movement has never developed an internal national or international economy structure, despite the fact that it is run like a business--with Temple Presidents and other leaders now drawing fantastic salaries. The idea of leaders drawing salaries would have been a complete anathema during the Seventies, but this now fits in well with the cult’s current strategies for maintaining the unauthorized brand of control it favors. With little or no employment opportunities present in the movement, devotees who want to remain inmates must, more or less, be completely surrendered to the powerful, salaried leader who runs the local operation.

This is a key part of the capitulation that “ISKCON” is making to secular Western culture. The cult is subordinating its orthodox teachings and the orders of Prabhupada, creating some confusion in its congregation but not enough to trigger a full-blown crisis. Through this gradual and insidious capitulation, the strategy is to create an international movement, with a Hindu-cum-Vaishnava flavor, that makes it more or less non-different from the Western mainstream. This, of course, is for the purpose of enticing the Westerners to join it (“preaching”).

A key element in this strategy is to keep increasing the number of “ISKCON” gurus and allowing them to employ whatever “ways and means” they can concoct in order to expand the congregation, secure more money, and continue to maintain the local strongholds over the temple inmates. In this transformed setup, the best devotees (besides the leaders and “gurus,” of course) are the ones living outside the temple, working hard in the vikarmi world, and giving big contributions. Recognition from the privileged Party Men is important to these “karma yogis,” and the best way to have enough recognition doled out is to expand the number of diksa gurus (a strategy directly opposite the one employed during the First Transformation).

Watering down the movement in general allows unqualified leaders to not be recognized for what they actually are, because they are more easily seen as great men in terms of their organizational skills and material results (power to control others). There will be some conflict with the dwindling number of traditionalists (who manage to hang on within the structure of the thing), but the eventual hyperinflation of guru--granted only to Party Men--will minimize and then extinguish the influence of those who are traditional concerning parampara or shastric interpretation.

The only way to avoid eventual loss of authority in “ISKCON” is to continue to splinter it, and the current inflation of fiat gurus will accomplish that outcome better when they are allowed to hyperinflate. The parampara will be abandoned in reality, but no one will notice and no one will care. There will be chronic unrest within the dwindling membership that still believes the cult is spiritually progressive. If guru inflation (and eventual hyperinflation) combines with splintering authority to make the corruption too apparent, then a Third Transformation will be employed to divert attention from this reality.

5. Rejection of Collegial Cooperation Model

There are a growing number of devotees, mostly but not only “outside the walls,” who believe that the Krishna Consciousness movement, as Srila Prabhupada actually presented it, is not what “ISKCON” has now become. These devotees mostly abhor the institutional collegiate-cum-corporate business model. There is a strong possibility, if not a probability, that the collegiate/cooperation matrix will be gradually replaced. The new model will also continue to de-emphasize book distribution, de-emphasize populating the temples, and de-emphasize chanting parties. But the collegiate model could be jettisoned, when it is considered just not worth it anymore: Too time-consuming, tedious, and incompatible with the attractive sahajiya lifestyle that will come to be demanded in due course of time.

The new wave will remain ostensibly loyal to “ISKCON,” of course, because that must remain the coin of the realm. But the “GBC” will find that the lip-service allegiance it then receives no longer includes position papers and clamoring to be participants in its bureaucracies and committees. The organized part of its organized religion may no longer rate high with the next “preaching” corps.

The current emphasis on spiritual advancement being recognized in terms of university degrees and post-doctorate diplomas will be rejected, because the payoff for all the work involved in that will be able to be attained another way, with much less effort. A kind of free-wheeling individualism will be the likely model after the current old-guard has mostly died off. The next wave of sahajiyas, who never even came into contact with Srila Prabhupada, will be required to submit less-complicated application forms for guru in order to receive the “no-objection” certificate.

After all, the Party Men will need to expand their ranks in order to maintain that tradition. And the only way to expand will be through the medium of a quasi-spiritualized Generation X, which isn’t going to be very attached to the Collegiate/Cooperation Model of today’s Second Transformation. So, if the corruption level reaches a blatant and intolerable point (for many of us, of course, this boundary has already been breached), then a Third Transformation will let freedom ring, replacing the embodiment of the Second Transformation with somebody new.

One thing we can know for sure about him: He’ll give a great seminar!

6. The Proliferation of Post-Modern Psychology

The seminar and workshop format will increase, however, if there is indeed a Third Transformation. Then, we are going to see that “preaching” becomes almost synonymous with a weird variety of pop culture, humanism, and post-modern psychology. There will be some mention of Lord Krishna and the standard philosophy in these seminar presentations--which will often involve paid presentations or retreats with many Western amenities included--but, on the whole, innovation will be the major theme running through these presentations. The well-dressed, “pukka” individuals will not at all neglect to keep their “GBC” loyalty or membership card current and active, and most of them will be a wild-card and institutionalized guru combined.

Western culture will be the clear winner when it reaches this stage, and the ideologies these devotees present will be of the misra-bhakta variety, at best. “ISKCON” is currently not yet in cultural alignment with its host culture, but that inevitability (although meat-eating and intoxication will continue to be shunned) is indicated by the trend-lines. Vedic and Vaishnava psychology is very different from, and in opposition to, Western mental speculation on the topic of psychology. But the emphasis on post-modern psychology, which will become increasingly present in the growing devotee seminar and workshop formats, must always be based on increasing the popularity of the mission. That popularity will be sought through presentations that are very pleasing to the eyes and ears of pseudo-seekers who are actually fully absorbed in and attached to the great Western adventure.

7. Breaches with Dissidents Widen Exponentially

The divide that now separates the inner circle or power elite of “ISKCON” from the dissidents is already huge, but it will become a chasm as the Third Transformation approaches. As one devotee put it a number of years ago: “We live on different planets.” That may not be self-evident to everyone now, but it will be after this Second Transformation peters out and another unauthorized “adjustment” begins to surface in order to replace it.

Look for devotees “outside the walls” of the cult to increasingly form their own ashrams, corporations, preaching parties, and outreach programs to the bewildered Westerners. Due to the increase of genuine and factual propaganda from these dissidents, both Americans and Europeans will come to know, albeit in a general way, that the “ISKCON” line does not necessarily represent the Absolute Truth or even the philosophy and process originally given by Srila Prabhupada.

Currently, a sizeable number of dissidents opposed to “ISKCON” are affiliated either with the Rittviks or the Neo-Gaudiyas; this will mostly not remain the case in the long-term future. Those unauthorized movements will also be exposed by the growing dissident movements, and the ultimate justification of at least some of these dissident groups will propel their efforts successfully forward.

In the process, of course, “ISKCON” will never recognize them or help them whatsoever, because all of these groups reject the “GBC.” Unless “ISKCON” is eventually able to, somehow or other, capture political power, the tide will turn against it at a certain point. That point has not yet been reached, but we can be assured that we are approaching it.

8. Emphasis on Material Activities/Results

The original movement was practical, but its emphasis was on transcendental activities and realization, not on worldly activities. That has changed. Food distribution is already taking precedence over book distribution in some areas, because the material governmental and non-governmental organizations recognize something like free food distribution as genuine, philanthropic activity. In their minds, that equates with religious activity, and “ISKCON” craves this kind of recognition.

However, what is actually happening here, just below the superficial plane, is an accommodation program with the material world. Obviously, during this Second Transformation, the emphasis on education reflects a clear connection to material name and fame in the form of university degrees. At best, virtually all of this is nothing more than pious activity. It will only increase. “ISKCON” is still the Big Kahuna, much greater than the Rittviks and Neo-Gaudiyas combined, so it still has the inside track in terms of obtaining quantified results, which it claims are completely spiritualized. In point of fact, however, emphasizing these kinds of activities and results identifies it more closely with its host culture.


Epilogue

In the spring of 1983, in New York City, I made an extra effort to contact one of Srila Prabhupada’s very first disciples. I had to jump some hoops, but I finally found out where he was working. He, like myself, did not at all approve of how the movement was currently being managed or what it had been turned into just five years earlier. I found this devotee working in the foyer of a bank as a security officer. We could have a few minutes together without jeopardizing his employment.

He spoke to me about his prediction--now coming true, of course--that the deviations of that time would pale in comparison to the sahajiyism that would manifest when the newcomers eventually took over. We spoke together about the outrageous shenanigans of some of the Zonal Acharyas, although I do not think that even this devotee thought that it would get as bad as it soon would get. We spoke about pseudo-devotional activities and how they will produce karmic or vikarmic results in due course of time. We spoke about how too much absorption in false ego is not listed as a divine quality in the Sixteenth Chapter of the Bhagavad-gita--but, instead, registers on the other side of the balance sheet. Like myself, he did not think that any of this that was going down was due to good motivations, errors, or growing pains. He agreed with me that the poison of personal ambition was behind it.

But perhaps he took it to an even deeper level than I did at that time, although I was the first devotee ostracized from the movement (and even mentioned in resolutions passed by the “GBC”). Speaking in terms of the audacity of the pretender maha-bhagavats, and specifically about the profit, adoration, and distinction that they were receiving back then, he rhetorically asked:

“Don’t they believe there is a God?”

OM TAT SAT. HARE KRISHNA.


End of Party Men

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Quotes from the books of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada are copyright by the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust