On Removing the “ISKCON” Albatross
by Kailäsa Candra däsa
Second of a Two-part Series
“. . . they have become mere beggars looking for distinction, adoration, position, and wealth. . . forgotten are the spiritual message and spiritual goals and ideals. The Çrémad-Bhägavatam has defined such show-bottle religion as kaitava-dharma, cheating religion. Those who are attracted to such cheating religious groups are themselves deceitful. Their show of spirituality is abominable; they have no desire for either liberation or devotion and surrender.”
“But show-bottle demonstration will not make you successful. . . Show-bottle demonstration will not make you successful.You have to be really bottle of medicine. Then it will cure.”
“To go beyond Aristotle by the light of Aristotle is to think that a borrowed light can increase the original light from which it was taken.”
The greatest show-bottle on earth is on stage daily at the “ISKCON” theater, and it attracts its congregation for many reasons. “ISKCON” is an anachronism relative to the bona fide Vaiñëava paradigm of disciplic succession, but it is also an anachronism relative to the post-modern Western milieu. It has been so for some time. Let us employ an analogy in order to understand this more clearly.
America has an intricate and well-organized railway system, and there are switches at key places along its network. Prabhupäda's movement was meant to stay on a certain track, and, if Providence had prevailed, it would have stayed on it. However, about four decades ago, his leading secretaries hatched plans. In 1978, they threw a key switch, and ISKCON went on to another track, immediately becoming a runaway train.
What is peculiar about that other track, however, is that it runs in what appears to be a parallel line to the main track. Seemingly parallel, but not quite exactly parallel, because, as per this analogy, the other track veers slightly off every five miles or so, by about two or three feet at a time. This deviation may not be discernible for someone traveling on the main line at the same speed, but, over the course of time, the defect becomes evident.
Thus, a new movement is created, different from what it was and different from what it was meant to be. That “ISKCON” novelty, of course, is attractive to some Westerners, who then join it. It is, arguably, even more attractive to the Hindoo hodgepodge, which dominates the Sunday celebration in the temples and is, for many of those temples, the chief of source of revenue propping up the show. The Westerners and foreigners are unable to recognize “ISKCON” for the anachronism that it is, because it appears to be right to them.
An argument could be made that, although the skewering becomes more pronounced as time moves on, that is only apparent to devotees who want to see things as they are. To believe that you can remove the “ISKCON” albatross from your subtle body, yet still believe in its shibboleths, is contradictory. To foolishly think that the reflected light of such a neo-jäta sahajiyä movement will increase your own realization and freedom on the spiritual path is to remain blind to its actual effect, unaware of just how different that organization is today from what it was when Çréla Prabhupäda guidance was accepted by its leaders.
Questions and Answers
Prabhupäda must have seen the contamination of his leading secretaries and the resultant developing anachronism, so why didn't he take drastic steps to uproot it?
He took steps to reform it, although it would be a stretch to say that any of them could be categorized as drastic. For example, he suspended the G.B.C. in the spring of 1972. We need some deeper perspective in order understand the answer to this difficult question. Severe steps, such as removing all the “ISKCON” mis-leaders and banishing those who were unrepentant, could have had consequences that would have forced him to take even more severe follow-up measures. We may have wished that he had done so, but only he fully knew how drastic measures would play out, especially if the influences of Kali-yuga were not completely uprooted in the hearts of his leading secretaries. Also, as a pure representative of the Supreme Lord in the renounced order, he would make efforts to rectify up to a point, but, after that, he would turn his back. He would no longer interfere once that point was reached, and we should know for certain that it was reached.
You have mentioned superstition. What was or is the worst superstition held by the leaders of “ISKCON,” especially while Prabhupäda was still physically manifest?
A strong argument could be made for: “He doesn't even know you.” This ignorant notion had tremendous self-serving value for those who had the temerity to claim that Prabhupäda did know any of their junior godbrothers or godsisters. It was especially potent when it was directed at an initiated disciple, who then became bewildered and/or intimidated—and thus fell for it. This superstition is the belief that Prabhupäda was only aware of a limited section of his initiated disciples, e.g., his commissioners, his officers, devotees who regularly exchanged letters with him, and the lucky men and women who joined him in the early days.
It can only work on materialistic devotees and/or on those who considered Prabhupäda little more than a figurehead. These people considered the leader they were taking orders from to be their conduit to the paramparä. Those who were actual Prabhupäda's disciples, however, never viewed the immediate order-giver in that way. Taking to a bhakti path means taking to an esoteric path as a mystic transcendentalist in the personal line. Why would any such practitioner stay for even a day in a movement wherein arrogant leaders promote such a condescending superstition?
The goal is to reach the exalted position of realizing the Supersoul within, and then, fully liberated, going beyond that stage to realizing the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Every real worker in Prabhupäda's branch of the sampradäya had his or her own personal experiences that constituted indisputable proof that Prabhupäda was with him or her--if not at all times, then, at least, at certain times (especially in intense or emergency situations). Similarly, every such devotee had dreams in which Prabhupäda appeared and often spoke, directly and personally, to his initiated disciple. Actually, these were often experienced even previous to initiation from His Divine Grace.
Just how dangerous is the “ISKCON” anachronism? Aren't its clichés, superstitions, and shibboleths rather easy to see through and overcome?
“ISKCON” is dangerous, at this time, when someone ignorantly places himself or herself within its wheelhouse of influence, but it is extremely dangerous to any individual who has become infected by the “ISKCON” béja. We must understand, however, that “ISKCON” does not primarily maintain its grip on individuals through the energy of intelligence (buddhi); instead, it does so through a combination of desire and negative emotions, i.e., it mostly utilizes the lower astral within a conditioned soul.
From the standpoint of reason, logic, and intelligence, the clichés, superstitions, shibboleths, etc. which it employs are not difficult to overcome, but they are not meant to bewilder intelligent practitioners of the science. Those who have developed prajïä and are actuating the working principles of buddhi-yoga are not bewildered by such things.
Those rationalizations are meant to distract and cover emotion-based bhaktas and bhaktins, who then simply accept “ISKCON” shibboleths without question. They do so for a variety of reasons, including sensing the institutional stick of ostracism and character assassination lurking behind those institutional devices. If the bewildered devotees continues to make inquiries that give voice to his dissatisfaction, that stick can be brought out at any moment. Subconsciously, everybody under the thralldom “ISKCON” is aware of that.
As long as superficial “explanations” hold sway, the “ISKCON” anachronism cannot be seen for what it is. If a devotee, completely free from the “ISKCON” béja, is able to break away, “ISKCON” wants him or her to twist in the wind for awhile. Then, in most cases, atomization within the materialistic Western culture will set in. As such, fearing being atomized, some devotees remove the albatross of “ISKCON” by taking “shelter” in the saìga of another egregor, such as Neo-Mutt or one of the Rittvik splinter groups. That decision is effective in terms of overcoming “ISKCON” clichés, superstitions, and shibboleths, but it does not solve the problem of conditional existence, since it simply replaces one peculiar set of cult devices of thought control with another one.
“ISKCON” leaders remain confident that any Westerner who does not buy into its concoctions (and thus leaves it) will be, with rare exceptions, soon enough broken by the material energy and rendered weak, lonely, and ineffectual. Being so overwhelmed by mäyä as to completely forget the reasons for breaking from the clutches of “ISKCON,” that devotee will not be able to remember why or how he or she became so degraded. Thus, the pseudo-Kåñëa cult is not concerned about any such “blooped” devotee exposing it.
The Faulty Paradigm for What It Is
“So, those who have taken this movement very seriously, they should be very sober and understand, at least, you must expose all these rascals. That will be very much appreciated by Kåñëa. Thank you very much.”
vidyäà cävidyäà ca yas
“One who simultaneously knows both what is knowledge and ignorance, by transcending ignorance and death through transcendental knowledge, enjoys the nectar of immortality.”
“What is this nonsense? Expose them! Bluffing. The bluffing should be exposed.”
Bogus “bhakti” cults are also known as apa-sampradäyas (imitation or wrong schools). They are anomalies within the paradigm of any given disciplic succession, and thus they are rejected by serious adherents to those sampradäyas. “ISKCON” and Neo-Mutt are examples of such imitation schools. Such so-called bhakti cults require to be known for what they are, and their leaders are all aware, at least subconsciously, that they could be unmasked at any time. As such, they develop and sharpen various weapons in order to defend against being exposed, and all such dark tactics eventually boil down to intimidation.
Rittvik is also an apa-sampradäya, one which appears to have some connection to Prabhupäda's branch of the Gauòéya disciplic succession. However, Rittvik is not an imitation school. Rittvik is a wrong school, as it is thoroughly anti-Vedic and anti-Vaiñëava in terms of the centerpiece of its belief and operation. Nevertheless, some rittviks will also resort to intimidation whenever they believe that it will produce the desired effect.
In due course, these anomalies create their own paradigms, and that is when the situation spins out of control and becomes dangerous. All three of these above-mentioned apa-sampradäyas are doing just that, and they each are at different stages of creating a new paradigm. Only a handful of devotees are powerful enough to actually challenge these deviant groups—challenge them in a bona fide way—and those real workers in Kåñëa consciousness are no strangers to being slagged and run through the grease.
We must understand this process of ignorance as it applies to the current situation. We should not ignore it, because then it can and will proceed to buttress its structures in the form of three deviant disciplic lines. Particularly in the West, if those three unauthorized paradigms become firmly entrenched, the Western people, at a certain point, will be unable to differentiate them from a genuine bhakti paradigm.
Prabhupäda's movement is on the verge of being scattered and lost both in the West and in India. It is our duty to understand what is being promulgated by the trio of bogus “bhakti” cults and expose each of them. They are all dishonoring Çréla Prabhupäda, and he will be pleased with any devotee who has the intestinal fortitude to confront and expose them for what they are, thereby checking their momentum.
That will eventually culminate in terminating their influence.
There is no fault in paying them back in their own coin. They specialize in intimidation via character assassination, culminating in ostracism. To criticize each of their unauthorized paradigms will not result in personal degradation; on the contrary, it will result in progressive advancement in Kåñëa consciousness. “ISKCON” is a nonsense—expose it! Neo-Mutt is a nonsense—expose it! Rittvik is ultra-nonsense, and it fully deserves to be exposed as exactly that. They are all engaged in a bluff that they are linking candidates to the Madhva-Gauòéya Vaiñëava sampradäya, but they are doing no such thing. This essential fact needs to become known by anyone and everyone who is interested.
If you were actually initiated, genuinely connected to the guru-paramparä via initiation from His Divine Grace Çréla Prabhupäda (1966-77), then it is your duty to expose these rascals or, at the very least, cooperate with and assist devotees who have enough spiritual and devotional strength to themselves take on this seva. If you first require to understand the bogus paradigm before you begin expose it, then get on with it!
The Function of Dogma in “ISKCON” Paradigm Modifications
“Try to understand the science of God philosophically, intelligently, logically. There is no question of dogma. Everything is nicely explained in Bhagavad-gétä As It Is, so you can try to understand.”
“ . . . what Kåñëa says, you can test even with your experimental knowledge. That is Vedic knowledge. Vedic knowledge, it is not dogma. The statement is there after sufficient experiment.”
“Those who are not representative of Kåñëa, they will say simply dogmas. Just like in every religion, there is a dogma, but in . . . Bhägavata-dharma, there is no dogma. . . caitanyera dayära kathä karaha vicära: Vicära means you just try to understand the gift of Lord Caitanya by logic, vicära. Don't follow blindly. Following blindly something, that is not good. That will not stay, but one should take everything with logic. . . the servants of God, they put everything in logic.”
Let us now examine the “ISKCON” paradigm, including its modifications. This examination will enable you to realize that it has been—and will continue to be—a shape-shifter. What is being explained here is not necessarily easy reading, i.e., any layman, without experience in transcendence, will have little access to its understanding. Still, confidential knowledge of the type that Lord Kåñëa forbids being revealed to the unqualified (Bg. 18.67) will neither be discussed nor explained in this section at any time.
The current “ISKCON” paradigm is not affiliated—at least, not favorably--with the eternal guru-paramparä paradigm, which itself is little understood even in India, what to speak of in the West. That is one of the reasons that the “ISKCON” paradigm can always change and thrive. That is one of the reasons why it is difficult to expose, even for those who desire to understand it for what it is. A-B-C-D knowledge of the Vedas and Bhagavad-gétä is not all that difficult to assimilate. However, as we go deeper into the alphabet of the guru-paramparä (as represented by the branch of disciplic succession established by His Divine Grace Çréla Prabhupäda), we find that such knowledge is necessarily more and more esoteric, confusing, and even apparently incomprehensible.
The “ISKCON” paradigm serves its egregor, which is associated with the personality of Kali. The “ISKCON” egregor does not want you to know about its existence, and “ISKCON” leaders want you to be cynical about any such kind of conception. The “ISKCON” béja is also supposed to be an illusion within the realm of their mystique. How dogma functions to maintain the “ISKCON” paradigm is a similarly forbidden realm of investigation. This is especially the case for the unfortunates who crave approval from their favorite “ISKCON” leaders. They are like animals with nose rings attached to ropes tied to a central rod stuck in the ground, circling around it as an institutional pole.
These occult principalities exist, however, and all of them are inimical to Vaiñëavism. They are all outside the eternal guru-paramparä paradigm, which is changeless. The “ISKCON” paradigm can and does undergo periodic transformations, of course. Nevertheless, while struggling through any crisis, it does not rejuvenate via a paradigm revolution. Modifications in “ISKCON,” in the name of reform, are acceptable; revolution is not, even though Professor Blueblood claims to have been the leader of its mid-Eighties “revolution.”
The catalyst for resorting to any such modification—understood as nothing more than an institutional deception—is the emergence of an anomaly, usually accompanied by a revenue failure. As history has shown, these produce periodic crises in “ISKCON,” and a new paradigm modification facilitates those crises being endured, overcome, rationalized, and eventually covered up and distorted via historical revisionism. “ISKCON” has proven adept at damage control over the years.
“ISKCON” dogma is the key to all of this. At all times, the shibboleths, superstitions, clichés, and devastators remain in place within the stacked deck that the “ISKCON” hierophants play. This is what keeps their operation viable, especially during crisis. As per the quote posted above (January, 1971), religions—especially, organized religions—all rely upon dogma. Such dogma is not intrinsic to the original teachings that initially created the line, but it is grafted on later by the hierarchy. It is meant for paradigm stability and crisis management. ISKCON” has its own hierarchy, and dogma functions within the cult to simultaneously benefit that totem pole while upholding whatever happens to be its current paradigm.
Let us review the history. First of all, there was ISKCON, the Hare Kåñëa movement of Kåñëa consciousness. There were a handful of time, place, and circumstance adjustments approved by His Divine Grace Çréla Prabhupäda within ISKCON, but these were not changes inimical to Vaiñëava tradition. Then came the First Transformation in March of 1978; to some extent, it was a gradual development from the mid-Seventies. The First Transformation, as could only be expected, was not as deviant from the Vaiñëava paradigm as later “ISKCON” changes would be, although many devotees are unable to comprehend this fact. As such, it is necessary to explain it in more detail.
The First Transformation was, of course, the imposition of the zonal äcärya era, along with the worship of eleven pretender mahäbhägavats. There is a subtle and little-known çästric truth concerning this topic, and it would be helpful if it could be revealed in order to explain the saga more clearly. Unfortunately, that çästric truth, known only to some of Prabhupäda's disciples, cannot be disseminated to the general public—and all of our writings on these websites are open to everyone. Nevertheless, despite being partially hamstrung in this connection, your author will proceed to explain the emergence of the first unauthorized “ISKCON” paradigm, as far as it is possible to do so.
By applying wrong historical hindsight, it is believed that Prabhupäda appointed eleven rittviks, who he then wanted (and expected) to become initiating gurus in their own right after he departed. This is standard “ISKCON” propaganda. If he wanted that, he could have directly said so without difficulty, but the presumption still holds sway. Such convenient historical hindsight, a self-serving component of everything “ISKCON” has done and is doing, was never verified by Prabhupäda at any time; it is simply a dogmatic presumption. You do not maintain the guru-paramparä by such presumptions.
This fact alone would be enough to eventually sink the ship, but it was accompanied by many other misconceptions. Prabhupäda said, “Regular guru, that's all” during the so-called appointment tape in May of 1977. So, even if you foolishly buy into the above-mentioned rittvik-to-guru presumption—even if you accept such mistaken knowledge—that particular dogma could only be maintained via the emergence of eleven regular gurus. That's not what we got, however, as everyone knows now beyond a shadow of a doubt.
What we got, instead, was eleven pretender mahäbhägavats, all of whom accepted worship from disciples (including their own godbrothers and godsisters), worship that was just as opulent as what Prabhupäda received while he was physically manifest. We also got the imposition of eleven zones or äcärya fiefdoms, wherein each of those pretenders was empowered like a pope or a king of a nation-state.
This was the First Transformation, i.e., the initial creation of an “ISKCON” paradigm. It replaced the previous bona fide paradigm, which was linked to the Vaiñëava traditional guru-paramparä. Here's where there is some irony: The First Transformation, the initial “ISKCON” paradigm, despite the dogma that it utilized to hold on for less than a decade, was, theoretically speaking, more bona fide than the subsequent paradigm modifications that superseded it. It was, in a perverted form, more bona fide, because it centered upon surrender to a spiritual master rather than surrender to a governing body.
Those who were instrumental in uprooting the First Transformation (and implementing a second one) argued that the Sole Äcärya System proved to be a failure. As per “ISKCON” implementation, that is certainly correct. They then continued to opine that another system, one in which the centerpiece of authority and power would be the governing body, was the only way to spread the Kåñëa consciousness movement after the disappearance of the Founder-Äcärya, His Divine Grace Çréla Prabhupäda.
In one sense, the First Transformation was a Sole Äcärya System, because, in each zone, a so-called äcärya was worshiped as the all-in-all and held ultimate power whenever he chose to exercise it. The irony is that, if those men had actually been qualified to be worshiped as uttama-adhikärés, their worship would not have been unauthorized. By the mid-Eighties, that they were not qualified was evidenced clearly to almost everyone. A major crisis thus ensued, and “ISKCON,” by its own admission (at least, in the ISKCON World Review editorial), was teetering, on the verge of cratering.
The following long sentence needs to be assimilated: Putting the honest description of that editorial aside for the moment, if those eleven men had not indulged in outrageous activities (including homosex, sex with their female disciples, shooting up store-fronts, and contracted murder), if those men had actually been pure devotees, their worship in the temple rooms would not have constituted any kind of unauthorized paradigm in terms of genuine Vaiñëava stricture, process, and tradition.
In other words, the Sole Äcärya System, implemented via eleven pure disciples of Prabhupäda (which those eleven men certainly were not) would have, at least provisionally, been entirely bona fide. However, there were other deviations, besides their lack of qualification and scandalous actions. The imposition of separate zones was certainly anti-Vedic and anti-Vaiñëava, i.e., a jagad-guru can and must preach to and make disciples anywhere and everywhere. The creation of the Äcärya Board within the governing body was unauthorized, despite the fact that the G.B.C. rubber-stamped the eleven and their zones, approved their opulent worship, and acquiesced to the creation of that Äcärya Board.
The G.B.C. was never meant to decide who is guru. It was, instead, meant to be a watchdog. If it had remained bona fide (which, as of March, 1978, it was no longer), then it could have, and should have, ostracized any bogus guru attempting to function within ISKCON. It was meant to protect the movement from imposters, but, instead, it empowered eleven of them, along with other concoctions, i.e., the fox was in the hen house.
The G.B.C. was integral to the institution of the First Transformation, to the devastation created by eleven men who had no business being worshiped by anyone, and to many other deviations designed to uphold a new, Westernized, breakaway paradigm. In the late Seventies, it thus became infused with dogma and ideas opposed to what Prabhupäda brought to us and for us in the mid-Sixties, and it descended into an organized religion.
The eternal Vaiñëava paramparä is guru-centered. Worship of the bona fide spiritual master is essential. If he is a fully-liberated äcärya in the true sense of the term, his opulent worship is not only completely acceptable but wanted—and that would include receiving such worship even from godbrothers and godsisters. His orders must be followed by everyone, and he is always light years superior to any kind of governing body, even if it is populated by madhyama-adhikärés (which the “ISKCON” G.B.C. most certainly was not). That is the irony: The First Transformation, although abominable, was nevertheless closer to THE TRUTH--but close only counts in horseshoes.
The anomalies that sprung up in “ISKCON” at the height of the zonal äcärya era emerged in the form of shocks: The revelation that the eleven were never appointed, the murder of Sulochan, and the knowledge that many of the zonals were engaged in abominations, activities not befitting even a mixed devotee. All eleven of them were sahajiyäs (from the beginning), but this only became known to the devotees at large in the mid-Eighties. Those anomalies reached the point where they could no longer be ignored or overlooked. As such, the “ISKCON” paradigm had to be modified. It was called a revolution and a full cleansing, but it was never even close to any such thing.
The Past is Prologue
“The effects of karma may be very old indeed.”
“We must know it that this material existence, either in any form, they are all reactions of our sinful life. That we must know.”
If you wrongly think that the “ISKCON” anachronism is, somehow or other, still genuine, that's on you. It is not the real deal, and plenty of evidence has been presented here in order to elucidate that. Still, the pretense itself, as a causal factor, cannot be ignored. The “ISKCON” elitists live in an ecclesiastical echo chamber protecting a professional priesthood, one which monopolizes technical erudition (of little or no value), wherein their “knowledge” is considered too incomprehensible to be communicated to anyone. Similarly, many of you know from experience that the “ISKCON” snobs take pleasure in a laissez-faire attitude toward the suffering of those ruined by their institutional labyrinth:
Leading Secretary: . . Jung sees . . . denominational religions with "archaic rites and conceptions" that "express a view of the world which caused no great difficulties in the Middle Ages, but which has become strange and unintelligible (read, an anachronism) to the man of today."
We overcome the “ISKCON” anachronism when we understand it—and when we are prepared to act upon that understanding. All of its clichés, shibboleths, and superstitions boil down to one thing: pseudo-religious DOGMA. If you are biased, no one can help you to assimilate this; if you are free from any such entanglement, the fact is self-evident. When you are prepared to act, it means that you are prepared to expose, uproot, and crush that dreadful, quasi-Eastern imposition, particularly here in America.
There is a dangerous and powerful attitude underlying “ISKCON,” and the fallen men and women who have benefited from it are the vanguards of that attitude. They are liable for the attendant consequences, as they have generated a huge load of vikarmic reactions over the past thirty-nine years. Only a minimal portion of that debt has been paid off so far, but overconfidence will not help them when the full bill comes due.
Their plan, if it comes to fruition, indicates that mankind may slip into a Neo-Gothic age of priests, who then erect barriers anywhere and everywhere, mostly in order to prevent being exposed. The “ISKCON” attitude is grounded in willful ignorance of the past, i.e., its Party Men believe that the past is irrelevant, and they defy it. They also believe that all of their deviations have been overcome, that they have paid the price, and that the novelty of their current show-bottle is, at least in part, the result of having learned from so many “growing pains.” They consider them dead and gone, or, at most, ghostly images in the rear view mirror. They believe that they are done with the past, but, soon enough, they will be rudely awakened to find that the past is not yet done with them.
“ISKCON” influence must be terminated, and then
OM TAT SAT
Quotes from the books of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada are copyright by the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust