“ISKCON” Gurus, Initiations, and Party Men Part 2

By Kailasa Candra dasa

“Gurus” are Cheap; Initiation Isn’t

At this point, it is important to get some understanding of spiritual or devotional initiation. The eleven pretender maha-bhagavats conducted many initiation ceremonies. Real initiation in the devotional line means to receive the bhakti-lata-bija. Some devotees opine that it can only be received by getting it from a manifest maha-bhagavat. There are shastric counter-indicators, as well as favorable commentary on those by Srila Prabhupada. Of course, those indicators will be misused in Kali Yuga by powerful men laboring to fulfill their own personal ambitions.

The issue of the transference of the bhakti-lata-bija is a very subtle topic. While Srila Prabhupada was manifest, all devotees who received initiation from him had the bhakti-lata-bija planted in their heart of hearts. That does not, however, mean that all those devotees were completely sheltered from receiving other bijas during that time. For instance, the “ISKCON” bija was infecting the Party Men during the time of Prabhupada’s manifest lila, and, since then, that weed has turned out to be the predominant bija and an ever-growing problem.

The point has been made that getting initiated during the time of Srila Prabhupada’s manifest preaching activities was an easy accomplishment. From one perspective, this argument appears to have teeth, because approximately five-thousand devotees did receive initiation during that eleven-year period. However, recommendations to Prabhupada for initiation almost always came through the medium of various hierarchical authorities: Temple Presidents, GBCs, and sannyasis were the primary persons who made these recommendations. And here is where you need to contemplate and understand a very subtle point.

Even while Prabhupada was with us, the Party Men--in their patented niyamagraha fashion--considered that spiritual advancement was non-different from moving up the latticework of the bureaucratic rungs, i.e., distinction as a Temple President automatically connoted a spiritual advancement superior to all the “inmates” (under his orders) in that temple. Similarly, receiving sannyasa allegedly amounted to automatic recognition of higher spiritual realization. And getting posted to the governing body was more or less considered tantamount to being the most spiritually advanced, the best man amongst all the other initiated devotees.

Time, insight, and experience has shown all of this to be a misconception. Within the temples, devotees who wanted to receive initiation from Srila Prabhupada did not necessarily do so in the context of the same motivation. Since the conduit to receive initiation was the approval of the Temple President (or, in some cases, the sannyasi who headed their party), sucking up to the leader--a kind of profit, adoration, and distinction offering to him--was sometimes employed in order to receive the recommendation more quickly and more easily. Other devotees did not consider the various Temple Presidents to be all that they thought they were, but these devotees still performed their seva--sometimes in severe austerity--under the sanction of their Temple President.

These devotees, despite the fact that they often produced very tangible results, were generally not favored by the Temple President or sannyasi leader as much as the sycophants were, especially if he was already in the process of developing an upadhi (big positions are sometimes created for big egos). In his mind, the other devotees, who did not become sycophantic, might also become competitors for his position. These devotees had to figuratively crawl on glass in order to finally get recommended for initiation by their assigned leader.

When Srila Prabhupada received a letter requesting initiation for a devotee from a Temple President, he almost always granted the request. Sometimes he did not, however. We can confidently assume that once the initiation ceremony was performed after the request had been granted by Prabhupada, the bhakti-lata-bija was received by the newly-initiated devotee. Even before the formality of initiation, the devotee had received from his guru (Srila Prabhupada) the bija of sraddha (komala-sraddha) and associated with the Sampradaya Acarya (sadhu-sanga) on a very regular basis via the seva rendered and the literatures read. This sraddha, although it is soft faith, is still constituted of a firm conviction that the yoga process of bhakti will accomplish completely all the legitimate spiritual aspirations of the sadhaka (that can be attained from any other Vedic process of dharma or yoga).

Once the harer-nama initiation was formally received at the bhajana-kriya stage, the devotee had received the Holy Name in disciplic succession, and the bhakti-lata-bija could be very effectively cultivated. When the devotee made further progress on the path--when he began to approach the stage of getting free from anarthas and realizing brahman--he received diksa (again, after a letter of recommendation was sent by his authority to Srila Prabhupada). He attained second initiation and the gayatri mantra. This means that he was now recognized as having moved closer to the guru, Srila Prabhupada.

However, the sycophants and fanatic followers allowed a weed to be planted in the garden of their hearts during this time, because of their unauthorized worship (in effect) of the local leader who appeared to control their spiritual destinies. They invariably received the “ISKCON” bija. This weed is a corporate imitator of the bhakti-lata-bija. It eventually works to strangle the real bija, sucking up all the watering process for itself. Srila Prabhupada cannot be blamed; you cannot pin it on the Sampradaya Acarya. The blame goes to the individual who attempted to shortcut the process of initiation by considering it from a material perspective. The blame also is shared by those sannyasis, GBCs, and Temple Presidents who began to look at all the devotees under their charge as persons who could make no progress in the movement without first surrendering to them.

By 1977, the majority of devotees in all the temples, on all the traveling parties, and in all the zones were arguably more absorbed in the personality cult of their local leader than in Srila Prabhupada, who was pretty much relegated to the position of figurehead by that time. It was a travesty. Those devotees who bucked the trend found ever-increasing resistance within the confines of the international confederation; they were often considered crazy.

This “ISKCON” consciousness was hardly apparent in the early and even mid-Seventies. When I preached on the college campuses back then, I never thought of the corporate acronym. I never named my campus initiatives as anything relating to the corporation; I generally called them Bhakti Yoga Clubs. When I gave a platform lecture, I never spoke of the movement in terms of its acronym. I instead preached the philosophy, or talked about a pastime of the Lord, or glorified Srila Prabhupada, or discussed the process and the importance of initiation from the bona fide Spiritual Master, etc. However, very gradually and insidiously, the Party Man consciousness began to seep into the movement, and all real advancement began to only be measured according to its paradigm. This set the stage for the First Transformation.

Side by side with this material development (perversion) was an overemphasis on the commissioners of the governing body. The real nectar was in chanting japa or Sankirtan, in book distribution, in Deity worship, in reading the books, in preaching engagements, etc. However, insidiously, another kind of very contaminated consciousness began to enter. The personalities of the governing body were considered to be like demigods who controlled the movement and deserved all attention, profit, adoration, and distinction. Some devotees never cooperated with this idea, and their path became more and more difficult. So, in order to understand how the movement was being ruined from within, it is necessary to consider what this commission was actually meant to be--and what it actually became.

 

Brief History of the “GBC”

On April 6, 1972, the following message to all ISKCON Temple Presidents was dispatched by cable, one copy each to three Governing Body Commissioners, viz., Karandhara, Rupanuga, and Hamsaduta:

YOUR MATERIAL LEGAL FORMULA WILL NOT HELP US. ONLY OUR SPIRITUAL LIFE CAN HELP US. HAMSADUTA MUST RETURN GERMANY IMMEDIATELY AND DON'T LEAVE AGAIN. ATREYA RISHI HAS NO AUTHORITY FROM ME TO MANAGE ANYTHING. REMOVE HIM. I HAVE NO APPROVAL FOR ANY THESE PLANS. DON'T CHANGE ANYTHING. ACKNOWLEDGE CABLE 26 RENNY STREET PADDINGTON SYDNEY. BHAKTIVEDANTA SWAMI

Two days later, the following memo was sent to all Temple Presidents:

Please accept my blessings. I beg to inform you that recently some of the Governing Body Commission members held a meeting at New York on 25th through 28th March, 1972, and they have sent me a big big minutes, duplicated, for my consideration and approval. But in the meantime they have decided some appointments without consulting me. One of the items which struck me very much is as follows:

"Atreya Rsi das was selected to be the Secretary for GBC and receive all correspondence including monthly reports.'' I never appointed Atreya Rsi member of the GBC, and I do not know how he can be appointed Secretary to GBC without my sanction. "He was also appointed to be on the Management Committee with Karandhara for the purpose of supervising ISKCON business and implementing the decisions reached by GBC.'' This has very much disturbed me.

Sriman Atreya Rsi das may be very expert, but without my say he has been given so much power and this has upset my brain.

I also understand that immediate actions are going to take place even prior to my permission, and that also "without divulging to the devotees(!)''

I do not follow exactly what is the motive of the so-called GBC meeting. Therefore, I have sent the telegram which you will find attached herewith, and I have received the replies as well.

Under these circumstances, I AUTHORIZE YOU TO DISREGARD FOR THE TIME BEING ANY DECISION FROM THE GBC MEN UNTIL MY FURTHER INSTRUCTION.

You manage your affairs peacefully and independently and try to improve the spiritual atmosphere of the centers more carefully.

I shall be very glad to know the names of your assistants such as Secretary, Treasurer and Accountant. Finally, I beg to repeat that ALL GBC ORDERS ARE SUSPENDED HEREWITH BY ME UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. (emphasis added)

The GBC was never incorporated by Prabhupada, although in 1993 some kind of “GBC” legal entity had been incorporated in Bengal. ISKCON was registered only with articles of incorporation in 1966, without by-laws. ISKCON was then upgraded with by-laws practically the day before the GBC was formed. The GBC was formed with its constitution and limitations spelled out in a document called now by its acronym, the DOM (Direction of Management). The BBT (Bhaktivedanta Book Trust) was separately incorporated the day after that. In other words, on three successive days in late July of 1970, three entities were formed. But only ISKCON and the BBT were created in the context of legal bodies recognized as such by the State.

So, Srila Prabhupada never intended for the GBC to be a corporate entity. That is clear. It was set up as an unincorporated trust, governed by the DOM. Ravindra Svarupa calls the DOM part of Prabhupada's "initial ideas". This is a self-serving, false allegation. The GBC was set up as no more than an advisory board to the Temple Presidents. This was demonstrated in the DOM itself, in the fact that the ISKCON Presidents, as a group, had a checks and balances counterweight spelled out over the GBC in the DOM.

“GBC does not mean to control a center. GBC means to see that the activities of a center go on nicely. I do not know why Tamal is exercising his ‘absolute’ authority. That is not the business of GBC. The President, Treasurer and Secretary are responsible for managing the center. GBC is to see that things are going nicely but not to exert absolute authority. That is not in the power of GBC. Tamal should not do like that. The GBC men cannot impose anything on the men of a center without consulting all of the GBC members first. A GBC member cannot go beyond the jurisdiction of his power. . . . it is a fact that the local President is not under the control of the GBC.”
Letter to Giriraj,
Aug. 12, 1971 from London (emphasis added)

ISKCON never had any central corporate entity, and it was never meant to have one. This is why, in part, the Long Island Rittviks and their Bangalore counterparts were able to win recent lawsuits against “GBC” antagonists. The GBC was never mentioned in the ISKCON Articles of Incorporation or in its By-Laws. And in the DOM--which, as aforementioned, was meant to govern the GBC and spell out the limitations of its power--it clearly says, "His Divine Grace has final approval in all matters." This means that Srila Prabhupada’s authority was explicitly superior to any GBC advisor and to the whole commission itself.

The commissioners were to serve three-year terms--but they must all be re-elected in order to continue on the Board; this was also stipulated in the DOM. Herein, we find the First Deviation: The GBC (“GBC”) never informed the other Temple Presidents that the DOM even existed. They never informed them about their fiduciary responsibility in relation to the DOM, and their inherent power to serve as check and balance counterweights to the power of the GBC.

But the deviations were numerous. The Second Deviation occurred in 1972. Remember, this was but one year short of what should have been upcoming elections by the Temple Presidents in relation to GBC membership. In the spring of 1972, the “GBC”, having just barely constituted a quorum (without informing Prabhupada or the other GBCs who were not present in this “emergency” meeting) voted Atreya Rsi onto the Board. It had no authorization to do this, as new GBCs could enter into board membership only by another process. Atreya Rsi then got all of these deviant GBCs to jump onboard his central financing scheme. Prabhupada heard about it and immediately removed Atreya Rsi and suspended the GBC, as shown at the beginning of this section. The centralized financing scheme was also upended. His Divine Grace returned the management of his movement to the original arrangement, giving all power back to his Temple Presidents.

Deviation Three: By July of 1973, no elections were announced, arranged, or held, although the DOM clearly stipulated that they were supposed to have taken place. After an "unbiased committee for a formal and full investigation" was supposed to have been formed, a document was created on July 22, 1974 . It had TOPMOST URGENCY stamped on the top of it. It was an Amendment to the DOM. On the document itself, it is stated that it, the amendment, is "to be immediately added to all Official Registration Documents, Constitutions, Incorporation Papers, etc. (of ISKCON)," another order that was never followed.

Point One of this Amendment: "It is declared that His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada is the Founder/Acarya of ISKCON. He is the supreme authority in all matters of the Society. His position cannot be occupied by anyone else . . ."

Prabhupada always held this position, right to the very end. That he never fully trusted the GBC can be found in many of his letters. For example:

“Then collect the opinions of each and every GBC member, and, if the majority supports the idea, then it should be taken as a fact for being carried out in our society. The majority vote and my opinion should be taken. When the majority opinion is present, my opinion will be yes or no. In most cases it will be yes, unless it is grievously against our principles.”
Letter to Bhagavan on
Aug. 20, 1971 from London (emphasis added)

“Grievously against our principles”!!!!!

How could a body that now claims it was constituted of the best devotees enact decisions that were grievously against the principles Srila Prabhupada established? How could an absolute group Leviathan be prone to stipulate something grievously against the Absolute principles? How could a body that claims its decisions must be the best possible--because so many “advanced” devotees put their heads together to make such decisions--legislate decisions that are grievously against the principles of Krishna Consciousness? Well, it could and it did. In 1978, for example, it did so on a devastating and unprecedented scale. It has been legislating and promoting cover-up “mistakes” in order to obscure that “mistake” ever since, and it has shown that it deserves to receive no allegiance from anyone.

Continuing with the aforementioned Amendment, Point Two read:

“There shall be a Governing Board Committee of trustees appointed by the Founder-Acharya, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivendanta Swami Prabhupada, in accordance to the document entitled Direction of Management (this, of course, is the DOM) dated 7-28-70. The GBC is to act as the instrument for the execution of the will of His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada."

But this Amendment was never added to any ISKCON papers of any temple legal structure anywhere in the world at any time. Ravindra Svarupa, the leader and exemplification of the Second Transformation, says that the governing body meeting of 1975 rescinded the DOM. He presents no hard evidence, only inference. He points out Resolution Five of that 1975 spring meeting: "Resolved: the selection of GBC members is that Srila Prabhupada will nominate, and, if there is a discrepancy, His Grace will change him. There will be no elections, and the present GBC members will remain." Obviously, this resolution is only applicable while Srila Prabhupada is externally manifest, so it is a temporary arrangement. The entire resolution is null and void after his disappearance; that is logically indisputable, but very inconvenient for the post-modern “GBC” to admit.

The DOM was never rescinded. No legal document was ever written to replace the DOM. The 1974 Amendment was also never rescinded, and it was only an amendment--not a replacement to the DOM. The DOM relegated the GBC as Advisors, primarily to the Presidents but also to the devotees in general. Its power as the “ultimate managerial authority” in the Will has to be seen in this context only. More importantly, its power and authority has to be seen in the context of what the “GBC” has instituted (phalena-pariciyate) since the spring of 1978. The DOM stipulated a checks and balances arrangement that was supposed to keep the GBC from becoming despotic. Srila Prabhupada never rescinded the DOM. Only one other ISKCON document connected to the GBC was ever created for regulating this governing body: The aforementioned 1974 Amendment to the DOM.

It was never intended to be a corporate entity. Now that it has engaged in but another deviation (the aforementioned 1993 incorporation in Bengal), the whole of corporate ISKCON (“ISKCON”) can be made bankrupt at any time. Any temple can have its property grabbed in a comprehensive lawsuit, because the “GBC” legally connects all of them and is (allegedly) legally the owner of all of them--at least every temple that was muscled into signing documents of complete fealty to the “GBC” finds itself in this position.

Although the Vaishnava Foundation was formed in the late Eighties, we had thoroughly rejected the “GBC” at least a decade earlier. This so-called center of the movement was not seen by us as some kind of Absolute Leviathan; we recognized it for just what it had become, what it had devolved to--its claim of being the direct representative of the Spiritual Master was completely and utterly false at all levels. We saw it as a criminal entity, and we continue to see it in that light at this time.

If the argument is made that post de facto application of the DOM could solve all of this, that argument has to be considered meaningless. It’s been rendered as such by all that has transpired since 1978, by all that has been institutionalized.

First of all, it will not happen; the current governors like to consider that they can hold onto the post “for good.” Perhaps, however, Prabhupada could have meant that GBCs should only be on the Body if they are good. At any rate, do not expect any movement whatsoever to dredge up the deviations of the “GBC” in the form of its neglect of the DOM, because even getting into that discussion is a tar baby for them.

Secondly, even if the DOM, somehow or other (and against all odds and current momentums) was re-institutionalized, in and of itself this would do nothing to rectify all of the concoctions ingrained into the “ISKCON” confederation. This is because all of the current Temple Presidents are either first or second-echelon Party Men. The corruption has gone on too long. There can be no solution from the votes of Party Men replacing “GBC” Party Men with other Party Men.

What we should understand about the whole “GBC” saga is that it was shot through with deviations practically from its inception. But, as far as the issue of a fair presentation goes, it did serve Srila Prabhupada in a bona fide way, during a crisis, in the first year of its creation. This is in relation to the four sannyasis who declared that Prabhupada was directly God and then locked him in his room in the Los Angeles center (how contradictory and ironic that was!) while they made unauthorized plans to centralize the whole movement in Greenwich Village. That shocking initiative was thwarted when the GBC stepped up to back Srila Prabhupada’s protests against calling him God.

After that, however, the GBC track record is spotty, at best. It did not relieve burdens from Srila Prabhupada, as it was intended. Instead, it increased headaches for His Divine Grace. It was a failed experiment, and it is fit to be completely rejected and condemned. It has no genuine spiritual authority whatsoever:

“Kindly relieve me of this great anxiety. I want to retire now and simply concentrate on translating work. But how can I do it if I cannot give over the management of my society to you all my advanced senior disciples? If one moment you are willing and the next moment there is some small disagreement and immediately you all go away, how can I be calm in my mind?”
Letter to Gaurasundara dated
August 26, 1972 in Los Angeles

“. . . relieve me from the management so I can translate my books. But I do not want to see that everything deteriorates by your management.”
Letter to Cyavana Swami dated
September 4, 1975 in Vrindavan

The “GBC” has done virtually nothing good or transcendentally efficacious during most of its duration, particularly after the disappearance of the Founder Acharya. The one progressive thing it did in the early Eighties, which will be described later in this article, was also tinged with obvious motivation for the preservation of its own power. It is a material power, or, more specifically, pseudo-spiritual power. All the crimes that took place during the intoxicating days of the Zonal Acharyas can be traced back to this “GBC,” without exception. It set the standard for the downline crimes perpetrated later in the movement.

 

Criminality of the Party Men

In order to understand how today’s “ISKCON” racket is not only still connected to deviations from many years ago but continues to push them and produce new ones, you must first understand what constitutes different levels of deviation in terms of crime. Crime is activity against dharma, or, more generally, sinful activity. But we are now, at this time in Kali Yuga, far removed from the dharma shastras and similar systems detailed in the Vedic literature.

As such, criminal activity has increased exponentially, and almost everyone in the West is a vikarmi, i.e., a person engaged in activity against his actual self-interest, against the purpose of creation and, as such, a person generating almost only sinful reactions. Because crime on all levels is rampant, the Party Men of “ISKCON” can easily appear to ignorant Westerners as (superficially) sadhus or holy men. You must come to the required realization of crime in the context of this all-pervasive ignorance; you must know the deviations from the orders of the Sampradaya Acharya. You must see all of this from the perspective of post-modern Western society and its relation to the “ISKCON” movement. Although some obvious things are going to be explained in this section, for the purpose of overall clarity and realization it would be a mistake to consider any of that to be pedantic.

Crime means acts performed against law generally, but law is present on many different levels. There are uncountable man-made laws, and these vary from nation-state to nation-state, culture to culture, morality to morality, community to community, family to family--and state injunctions even sometimes vary (in a federal system) within nation states. Some of these laws are themselves criminal, e.g., laws legalizing the slaughter and eating of animals. Some of these laws also have different levels within them, e.g., the bylaws of some unincorporated entity do not possess as much weight as the bylaws of some large, corporate dynamo. And the state laws generally trump any corporate laws, although money can often change the equation. National laws are supposed to be superior to individual state laws, and international laws are supposed to be above any laws of a so-called sovereign state, although often, due to military power, this is not the case.

Over and above all such man-made laws are Nature’s laws, of course. They are very difficult to deviate from without incurring punishment, whereas such punishment can often be avoided (or bought out) in connection to deviation or transgression of laws relating to man-made arrangements.

Beyond Nature’s laws there are transcendental laws, but these can best be put in a more complete category, i.e., they can all better and more conveniently be termed God’s laws. These can be deviated from more or less with abandon, and, in Kali Yuga, that’s what transpires. Often, because of the convoluted nature of this age, material reward is the result of deviating from any and all of God’s transcendental laws, especially when the nation-state wherein such deviation occurs has man-made laws that are specifically contrary to God’s laws or that water them down.

When the Party Men took over the movement in the late Seventies, their more charismatic and flamboyant section, viz., the eleven pretender maha-bhagavats and their henchmen, considered themselves pretty much all-powerful. They considered themselves no longer to be under any man-made laws, in the sense that there was no legitimacy of these in relation to them. And, as allegedly the embodiments of all the demigods, the Zonals also believed that they could transgress many laws of Nature (Maya). And they did just that.

However, a significant section of the man-made laws of the West are not rotten, but they are actually rooted in obedience to Nature’s Laws, e.g., laws against murder and theft. So, punishment by the State for transgressions of man-made laws that are in synchronicity with Nature’s Laws must also be considered in harmony with the Supreme Personality of Godhead’s overall arrangement. Nevertheless, there were some egregious deviations against these laws by “gurus,” sycophants, and followers. There were also murders in due course of time.

It goes deeper than this, but we are really discussing only basic principles in this article; we are not getting into the puss. The Vaishnava Foundation observes a stricture of not delving into the puss nor getting too heavy into criticizing the many defective character issues that blemished Srila Prabhupada’s movement. These all dishonored and embarrassed him, both before and (particularly) after his disappearance. We take this tack not because we believe that these things should be swept under the rug; most definitely we do not believe that. They should be detailed in written form and made part of the historical record. The devotees who take on that service, as long as they do not warp the facts, are engaged in devotional service. Still, the Vaishnava Foundation chooses to emphasize the underlying reasons for these manifestations of criminal and abhorrent behavior, because this is the level at which they can actually be understood and uprooted.

There was a big emphasis on “laxmi” (“Money is the honey”) by the eleven maha-bhagavats and their chief henchmen immediately after the imposition of the Zonal Acharya scheme. Money was collected in more and more questionable ways, culminating in what came eventually to be known as “scamkirtan.” Many of these activities by the powerful gold-plated materialists of “ISKCON” were criminal, because the people giving the money got no spiritual benefit for giving it; indeed, they accrued sinful reactions for making such charity. As the years went on, not only was much of this money capriciously wasted, but also it was mis-spent for projects that were nothing more than the extension of egoistic desires. Money spent on lavishly worshipping a pretender maha-bhagavat--or creating “the best of both worlds” for his henchmen and sycophants--is money spent in the lower modes.

Yet, there was another somewhat hidden level to all of this. It was even more pernicious than this overemphasis on constant collection of money (“the pick”). This was the subtle fact that “the slows,” who were practically useless when it came to the passionate activity of ripping off the vikarmis for their money, were assigned to other divisions of labor. One of these areas was taking care of the young children at the various centers, what remained of the Gurukula concept. As such, many of these space cadets had access to young boys. And this led to pedophilia and child molestation on a quite widespread basis.

This was criminal activity of a more heinous nature--recognized as such by the State--with even greater negative reactions put into the stock. During the crazy era of the Zonals, there were these kinds of crimes taking place in some of the centers of “ISKCON,” and it may not have been known by the upper echelons. It thus may not have been condoned by them, but it should have been both expected and anticipated. “ISKCON” during this period suffered very bad public relations, and that was fully deserved. The devotees motivated to attain personal worship and aggrandizement had created much faithlessness throughout the movement.

Numerous negative newspaper articles appeared, juxtaposed with hot and cold wars waged between and amongst the so-called maha-bhagavats themselves and between and amongst their loyal adherents. The eleven pretender maha-bhagavats were engaged in big crime against God’s law, against the parampara, and against Srila Prabhupada’s explicit order. Those criminal activities would eventually have their negative reactions, and some of those turned out to be very severe.

Because of the self-apotheosis of the Zonals, because of their attitude that they were actually above the law, this contaminated mood spread to the other members of the first and second echelon Party Men. They were “pukka” on the outside, because that was (and remains) one of the fundamental keys to their scam. They were rascals on the inside, however, but they could see that their ambitions were being jeopardized by this almost rampant “maha-bhagavat” individualism, which generated an ambience of crime in the movement. After all, the West espouses a false definition of freedom that is highly conducive to crime, so the devolution of the movement into this cul-de-sac was almost inevitable after the deviation, particularly in America.

The Party Men sought to rectify the situation by approaching Swami B.R. Sridhar and taking more advice from him, as well as hopefully some direction as to how to stem the pandemonium. Swami B.R. Sridhar began to criticize some of the Zonals. This, in due course, led to individual breakaways. Some of these pukka Party Men even took the unprecedented step of leaving the “ISKCON” party, eventually forming the Mahamandala.

At the Vaishnava Foundation, we call this group the Neo-Gaudiya Math, because it completely emulates the familiar misconception of Srila Prabhupada held by the majority of the Gaudiya Math leaders of his time, as well as the style and philosophy of the Gaudiya Math. The Neo-Gaudiyas now have a loose conglomeration called the World Vaishnava Association, and we reject almost everything it stands for, almost everything it preaches, its so-called acharyas (who are all wild cards themselves), some of its philosophy (particularly its origination-of-the-jiva concoction), and, in particular, its maha-gurvaparadha conception of “Swami Maharaj.”

One of the eleven maha-bhagavats broke with “ISKCON” and affiliated himself directly with the Gaudiya Math in the person of Swami B.R. Sridhar. Some first and second echelon office holders, who were distinctive leaders in “ISKCON” at that time, also made a similar break and affiliation. The movement was in the process of its first major schism, and Swami B.R. Sridhar was once again at the forefront of this development, just as he was instrumental (but in the background) of the First Transformation but a few years previously. The reaction to the crimes of the pretenders directly generated the neo-Gaudiya Math as a consequence. The breakaway factions would not stop there--although there would be an interlude of some years before the next major faction would emerge.

The crimes of the child molesters would eventually put the movement in jeopardy on every level and wind up costing it millions of dollars. The crimes of the fanatics and the Party Men led to a constant state of aggression and martial tension, culminating in the murder of Sulocana. The organization was degenerating fast and furious, because this was the ending stages of both the martial epoch of movement and the First Transformation. The levels of disillusionment with the “GBC” were growing, but not all of these malcontents could put the pieces together or understand the facts of what was historically going down. Most still labored under the whammy that “GBC” reform could and would eventually rectify the situation.

Actually, the situation could not be rectified. Even today, it cannot be rectified, for the crimes and their residual remnants have been institutionalized. Somehow or other, the movement appears to have solved the pedophilia problem and its material public relations has improved. Nevertheless, the crimes against God’s Laws are still endemic within the “ISKCON” movement, but virtually no Westerner can discern this. They are only concerned about deviations from their man-made laws--and some of them, to a lesser extent, about deviations by “ISKCON” from Nature’s Laws. But they have absolutely no ability or power to comprehend or recognize the continuing deviations by “ISKCON” from God’s laws, from the laws of the disciplic succession, and from the laws of Srila Prabhupada’s orders in relation to how his movement was to run, particularly when he was no longer with us.

The crimes against the rank-and-file devotees are as endless as the waves of the ocean. Almost none of these have been resolved, and there are reactions active and in the stock in relation to these vaishnava-aparadhas. The aparadhas against the Deities, in the form of aviddhi-purvakam worship of Acharya-installed Deities (by persons who have not been genuinely initiated), does nothing to stem the building layer of unseen contaminations that are within and hover over all of “ISKCON.”

None of those original eleven pretender maha-bhagavats was a genuine guru. Only a genuine guru can give spiritual initiation. The current movement is nothing more than a colossal pseudo-spiritual hoax, but the uncountable crimes perpetrated over the last thirty years have now been pretty much relegated to a level in which no direct prosecution from the State can issue forth--the grosser crimes against man-made laws and Nature’s Laws have been more or less stemmed.

Do you really want to put your material well-being and spiritual life into the hands of such people? Do you think that you will be protected if you do so? If demoniac elements have indeed woven their way into the very power fabric of their cult--and you believe in them, are invested in them, and are dependent upon them--how could you be?

 

Topanga: A Breath of Fresh Air

In 1980, two disgruntled “maha-bhagavats”--one of them being TKG--would have a semi-private talk with some senior devotees that had the potential to put the institutional delusion into jeopardy. This was because TKG revealed some facts that could dismantle and topple the root pretenses of the whole “guru” scheme. These two Zonal Acharyas had been punished for egregious behavior against the ruling interest of the “GBC”, or, in other words, they did not stay within the confines of the chaos that the “GBC” both tolerates and encourages. So, they were brought down. Another former Zonal had already moved into Swami B.R. Sridhar’s camp, but these two men had not gone that far. As we have pointed out repeatedly in this article, the “GBC” had now become the center of the so-called Krishna Consciousness movement. That center was in danger of not holding, because it no longer had one powerful man as its embodiment.

But punishing the person who previously held that position, who was so instrumental in getting the whole scheme up and running, who had embodied its principles and ideals, who manipulated many of its integral contrivances, was a very risky gambit on the part of the other commissioners. The “GBC” mistakenly thought that this danda tactic would bring these two into line. That turned out to be a big mistake!

Topanga Canyon is in the mountains near the San Fernando Valley outside of Los Angeles. It has a mystic quality to it, and flying saucers and similar U.F.O.s are frequently sighted--Americans from this neck of the woods also claim to have been abducted. Strange things happen in Topanga Canyon. And something very unprecedented took place there in December of 1980: The movement received a breath of fresh air in the form of some long overdue truth.

The motivations of the revelation were almost certainly political. However, the facts that were ever so briefly revealed in Topanga Canyon late one night with winter approaching were so heavy that the motivations for their revelation are not important. When the transcripts of what was discussed got passed around to the devotees in general, most of them were forced to think.

You see, Tamal Krishna Gosvami was almost the sole caretaker of Srila Prabhupada for the final months he remained externally manifest on Earth. So, TKG knew practically everything that transpired in relation to His Divine Grace during that time. In particular, since he, along with the chief scribe, posed the important questions of the May, 1977 so-called appointment tape, he knew just what Srila Prabhupada had authorized--and, much more importantly--what he had not authorized. Over and above this, TKG created the July 9th letter, which was simply signed by Prabhupada on an “authorized” line. This letter was the appointment of rittviks by Prabhupada to once again begin formally initiating new students into the disciplic succession on behalf of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami. But TKG, exploiting the influence of Swami B.R. Sridhar, had conveniently let that appointment of mere rittviks (rittvik-acharyas) morph into the appointment of diksa gurus. And then, also exploiting the mat guru si jagat guru cliché, he similarly let the so-called appointment of these diksa gurus morph into the “recognition” of eleven so-called maha-bhagavats. Almost no devotees actually knew, as of 1980, that the basis of the so-called appointment of eleven gurus by Srila Prabhupada had no real foundation--but TKG knew! It was his ultimate trump card in case the others became too envious and turned on him. In Topanga Canyon, he decided that now was the time to play it.

There was growing disgruntlement on behalf of some of the Party Men, and two powerful Indian GBCs were demanding consideration. TKG saw that the risks of revealing the truth were outweighed by the pragmatic benefits he could almost certainly leverage if he let it be known that the whole scam was based upon nothing but a house of cards. And he did just that in Topanga Canyon that night. He said that the eleven gurus “did the greatest disservice” to the movement by claiming that they were not only appointed to be gurus, but by further claiming that they were the only devotees appointed to be spiritual masters by Prabhupada.

He went on to add that Prabhupada never did appoint any gurus; he only appointed eleven rittviks in July of 1977. TKG should know, because he was the one who created the letter announcing the names of these rittvik-acharyas--a letter that was not dictated directly by Srila Prabhupada but simply signed by him.

Word got around about the sum and substance of the Topanga Canyon talks. It added fuel to the fire of growing discontent. It led devotees to question the whole basis of the Zonal Acharya scheme. The aforementioned female devotee had already blown up the pretense (ever so temporarily) of one Zonal Acharya. Now, with two members of the original eleven stating unequivocally that there was no basis for any of them to claim that they were diksa gurus (recognized as such Prabhupada), the conspiracy was jeopardized more profoundly than anytime before.

TKG re-captured the gadi; it’s not difficult to figure out why. TKG no longer could embody the scheme, however, having deviated from it and (temporarily) having exposed it. But he could get some of his power and prestige back. His strategy was brilliant, but it did open Pandora’s Box. Not surprisingly, TKG would later dumb down the obvious interpretation of what he revealed that night in Topanga Canyon. Still, those devotees who were dissatisfied and disillusioned with the whole scheme did not dismiss what he had revealed; they disseminated the information and pondered its ramifications.

The fact is that he did much damage to the movement, but he was also integrally involved with Srila Prabhupada in the last days; he knew what was what. He had helped cover the truths and facts of the actual situation for some years, but Lord Chaitanya and Lord Nityananda arranged that he spill some of it at a certain point. Prabhupada did not recognize an Acharya Successor. It is also both essential and important that you also understand, without doubting, that there never was any appointment or recognition of diksa gurus or regular gurus by Srila Prabhupada during his last months with us. He didn’t recognize any of his disciples as fit for guru. Quite the contrary, in Bombay during the last months, His Divine Grace confirmed that none of his disciples was qualified to be guru:

Prabhupada: What is the use of producing some rascal guru?
TKG: Well, I have studied myself and all of your disciples, and it's clear fact that we are all conditioned souls. So we cannot be guru. Maybe one day it may be possible...
Prabhupada: Hmmm...
TKG: (pause)... but not now.
Prabhupada: Yes.
Room Conversation on
April 22, 1977 in Bombay (emphases added)

 

"ISKCON”: Experiences Its First Schism

Some downline leaders in the movement were now shuttling back and forth to Navadvipa for answers to all of these problems, most of them being either directly or efficiently created by the Zonal Acharyas. Some downline leaders would defect and join the fledgling Neo-Gaudiya Math. Others would remain ostensibly loyal, but they would bring back to Europe and America, often in the form of hard-copy transcripts, the views of Swami B. R. Sridhar concerning what would later be called an “internecine war.” Indeed, some became devotees of Swami B. R. Sridhar, and one brahminically-initiated disciple of Srila Prabhupada said that he no longer believed in Prabhupada and no longer wanted any connection to him. Swami B. R. Sridhar “re-initiated” him. Indeed, with at least two of the Zonals now in breakaway mode, the First Transformation was already fragmenting in the early Eighties. Despite the fact that TKG came back to the fold, there was tension everywhere at this time, and the general drift was toward disillusionment and anarchy.

It was increasingly seen that Swami B. R. Sridhar was not part of the “GBC” program. He would make various judgments that pretty much condemned its rulings. For example, he called the punishment of TKG and two other Zonals as marking “a deathblow” to the movement. This pronouncement was based on the judgment that the “GBC” had no right or authority to restrict, punish, or take away anything from a recognized acharya, a recognized guru. This antagonized the “GBC,” which was not about to relinquish its power over to various wild cards who could then denounce it at will. After all, it had empowered them as so-called gurus, allowed them to initiate new disciples, and given them their various zoned-off territories.

For a couple of years each spring in the early Eighties, this developing situation became more and more exacerbated. Finally, in 1982, it came to a head. The inner circle of “ISKCON,” with the Party Men in agreement, decided that Swami B. R. Sridhar could no longer be allowed to have any influence in their movement. The “GBC” was now going to go its own way, and anyone who wanted to be part of it was required to renounce any and all connection to the Gaudiya Math and especially to Swami B. R. Sridhar.

During this time, the “GBC” presented various rationales as to why Swami B. R. Sridhar was, in actuality, never a “higher authority,” despite the fact that this had been written in the Position Paper announcing the eleven new gurus in 1978. A letter to Rupanuga, dated April of 1974 was also brought forward, where Swami B. R. Sridhar had been rather derogatorily described by Srila Prabhupada as nothing more than “the best of the lot” of his godbrothers. Srila Prabhupada had clearly said all were disqualified to become acharya.

Most importantly, however, a previously obscure addendum to a letter sent to Australia in 1972 was brought forward by the “GBC.” This addendum came to be known as the Crow and Tal Fruit Addendum. It clearly stated, in unequivocal terminology, that all living entities had originally come from a personal and fully developed relationship with the Supreme Lord in the spiritual world. Getting this addendum out to the devotee community was, in the opinion of this author, the one progressive contribution of the governing body since 1978.

There can be no contradiction in the teaching of the Absolute Philosophy of Krishna Consciousness, and the Crow and Tal Fruit Addendum clearly showed that Swami B. R. Sridhar was pushing an apasiddhanta. In terms of what the real Sampradaya Acharya, Srila Prabhupada, had taught all of his disciples repeatedly in his books, tapes, transcripts, walks, letters, etc., the Gaudiya Math taught differently. Swami B. R. Sridhar had also been teaching this different origination theory; he had even written in one of his books that all living entities had originally come from the brahmajyoti, the impersonal effulgence of the Lord. The “GBC” was a huge multi-million dollar conglomeration, constituting a high-stakes gamble on an international scale. It would play hardball when the time came to preserve itself.

The need to demonstrate an unstoppable, ever-fresh, ever-increasing movement, a worldwide juggernaut, was integral to everything the Party Men depended upon and pushed in all their proselytizing efforts. This schism was a drag for them. It divided the mass of devotees, which were already beginning to divide into many weak camps of disillusionment. This polarization with the Gaudiya Math now bifurcated the so-called Krishna movement into two large, warring factions.

As such, the event itself was foreboding. If the Love-and-Trust Society was, in actuality, both authorized and pure, how could this even happen? Krishna Consciousness is, by its very nature, centripetal, i.e., it brings people together on every plane: Spiritually, intellectually, mentally, and socially. A major schism is tantamount to an earthquake in the very movement itself, and those devotees who defected from the “ISKCON” camp into the growing Neo-Gaudiya faction could only work in the future to undermine “ISKCON.”

The actual fact was that the misguided leaders of the fabricated, so-called “ISKCON,” the Party Men on all the upper echelons of this transformed enterprise, had punched into a tar baby in the spring of 1978. They were now reaping the results of that action. They had allowed themselves to be bamboozled by the sweet and sophisticated logic and words of Swami B. R. Sridhar back then, not recognizing that what he was enticing them to attempt would never fly.

Swami B. R. Sridhar had been instrumental in the artificial imposition of Ananta Vasudeva as the sole Acharya of the Gaudiya Math after the disappearance of His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Maharaj. This had led to a major disruption of the Gaudiya Math movement in India, rendering it, in the eyes of the one pure devotee who came out of it--Srila Prabhupada--as little more than useless. There are many, many quotes from his letters, morning walk conversations, and room conversations where he verifies this view; we are under no compulsion to produce those here. But Swami B. R. Sridhar, in the early Eighties, would again become instrumental in perverting and disrupting another spiritual movement--this one started by one of his godbrothers--although the Party Men of “ISKCON” deserve the brunt of the blame for this catastrophe. As we shall see later on in this article, even after his death, Swami B. R. Sridhar would further, and very subtly, influence but another division in Prabhupada’s original organization.

End of Part Two

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