Beyond the “ISKCON” Paradigm

By Kailasa Candra dasa

Ashvatthama proved himself to be an unworthy son of Dronacharya or of a brahmana, and for this reason he was condemned by the greatest authority, Lord Sri Krishna, and yet a mild woman could not withdraw her natural courtesy for a brahmana. . . The specific words used in this sloka are vama-svabhava, ‘mild and gentle by nature.’ A good man or woman accepts anything very easily, but a man of average intelligence does not do so. But, anyway, we should not give up our reason and discriminatory power just to be gentle. One must have good discriminatory power to judge a thing on its merit. We should not follow the mild nature of a woman and thereby accept that which is not genuine.” Srimad Bhagavatam, 1.7.42, purport

O Son of Pritha, intelligence in the mode of passion is that by which religion and irreligion, and what is to be done and what is not to be done, are imperfectly discriminated.  Covered by darkness, thinking irreligion to be religion, and in all things striving in the wrong direction, is intelligence in the mode of ignorance.    Bhagavad-gita, 18.31-32

All emphases added for your edification and realization

Many years ago, I was invited to a small, private gathering of metropolitan people, mostly rather sophisticated and wealthy New Agers (not witches, however), who speculated on occult topics according to their mutual tastes and inclinations.  One of them, the host, was into a book by Seth, who allegedly channeled the highest, esoteric revelations.  None of them was slightly inclined toward buddhi-yoga or even karma-yoga. When I brought up the presence of the Supersoul, one young man at the meeting emoted, “I know who can enter my heart and who cannot!”

Previous to this outburst (which ended the get together), I particularly noted that, in their shared mindsets and verbal intercourse, there were frequent references of their strong aversion toward anything that smacked of linear intelligence.  They believed in the non-rational, the non-linear, the humanistic paradigm: Subjective or personal intuition, which, by the way, is not the same thing as prajna or higher intelligence.

On First Principles

When we use a function of the brain for something other than what it is created and suited for, we experience problems—and this applies to what passes for spiritual life, as well.  All paradigms that promote such “thinking” are proven counterproductive when it comes to transcendence, but this defeat is often realized too late, if it is realized at all.  At a certain stage, it becomes very difficult or next to impossible to effectively change such ill-advised habits encrusted into the neural-linguistic pathways of the brain and central nervous system.

There is a malignant and unauthorized paradigm now spreading in this post-modern, hedonistic age; it serves as an imposition spliced into and atop of the original yoga system established here by a fully God-realized spiritual master, our guru maharaj, the last Acharya in the Caitanya line, His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.  The presuppositions and assumptions of “ISKCON” are too great in number to delineate in this brief article, but we shall touch upon some of them. 

The paradigm allows a rather wacky confederation, functioning through an evolved, existential quasi-stability, to proliferate according to knowledge that works through intelligence in the lower modes; the devoted and fanatical followers of this operation are usually quite insensitive to any new input which contradicts the “ISKCON” way of seeing things.  Important doctrines of the fabricated, so-called “ISKCON” always extend their influence according to the self-interests of the hierarchy (especially at the top echelon), but this parochial system limits the upside of realization for anyone entangled in or dependent upon the organization.

More often than not, occult “ISKCON” methods, such as its dress codes (for the leaders, especially), rituals, fire sacrifices, specialized language, ceremonies, distinctions, etc., become the goal in and of themselves.  They are substituted for realization; these profiles, acts, and attainments supposedly entail the weight of guaranteed liberation.  Foolish followers, whose intelligences are in the modes of passion and ignorance, readily believe it, and when they mimic the methods, that makes them great devotees in the eyes of their peers. 

They discard the essential importance of any analytical and detached assessment of the real situation and instead accept an ever-increasingly refined, specialized, and abstract system that is beyond the general public to even comprehend, let alone challenge.  Madness permeates intelligence in the mode of ignorance, but there is a method to the subtle and disingenuous madness initiated and engaged here by the “ISKCON” elite.  In India, this particular astral larva is really catching on at present.

Misconceptions act as barriers to knowledge and the functioning of sattvic intelligence. The overall perspective awarded by intelligence in goodness is required in spiritual life. However, in order to understand a confederate culture, as well as two similar paradigms of reactionary cults spawned by and spun off from “ISKCON,” we must learn about what the members of the thing all share--a set of assumptions imposed in no small measure by the codes imbedded in its common language.  Before deliberating on any of this, however, we must remember some basic facts about conditioned life, especially in terms of how its buffers operate.

Back to the Future

“The function of the brain and nervous system is to protect us from being overwhelmed and confused by (a) mass of largely useless and irrelevant knowledge, by shutting out most of what we should otherwise perceive and remember at any given moment, leaving only that very small and special selection that is likely to be practically useful. . . That which, in the language of religion, is called ‘this world’ is (their) universe of reduced awareness expressed--and, as it were, petrified--by language. . . people most of the time know only what comes through (their) reducing valve, consecrated as genuinely real by a local language. . . (that is) carefully selected; (it is) utilitarian material which narrow individual minds regard as a complete, or at least a sufficient, picture of reality.” Aldous Huxley, The Doors of Perception

The brain limits and selects input as an individual imagines his own world by means of personal creations resulting from past experiences; he only accepts and applies new experiences when they fit into this paradigm. Having developed a kind of conditioned, stereotyped, neural-linguistic system of quasi-stability, his internal model considers the world, and what he experiences in it, to conform to expectations; these anticipations are categorized. He sorts input per such categorization which continually trends to further limit what he will accept.  These reactions become habitual, and he tunes out anything that does not fit into his constricted model.

The multi-level system of conditioning is a process requiring different layers of filtration. A kind of stability is achieved by this method of filtering input, and it is applicable to both an individual and an institution.  Nevertheless, it is a personal construction, an identification that can be traced to ahankara (false ego).  The only way to actually purify consciousness is to work (in yoga) against ahankara, but institutionalized delusions, and the fools sucked into them, seldom engage like that.  The senses, and the chief sense within (mind), serve mainly as data reduction valves, and Maya arranges to make him think that he is actually making progress.

Nevertheless, the central nervous system is constantly forced, by the laws of time and material nature, to confront shifts in the external world, to respond to unexpected changes.  When they do not neatly fit into the paradigm he has accepted, cultural biases and expectations are challenged.  This is uncomfortable for the chela, of course.  He is forced to create a new construct in order to re-establish a stability that is apparently now being uprooted, its categories negatively impacted in a big way.  All his past history and what he thought were his needs appear to require a new explanation; when duped by an illusion of “re-initiation,” he thinks that he has accomplished the transition.

He will eventually be forced to think otherwise.

Personal consciousness not actually linked to Krishna consciousness is in a continual process of flux, and the reactionary tendency is to become more and more conservative.  The institution encourages this, of course, and its reactionary, parochial interest is never more apparent than when it works to save a chela from doubting both its premises and its promises within a skewered version of historical accuracy.

How the leaders in “ISKCON” accomplish this has to be simple, however, because it is meant to keep simpletons onboard and happy (“Got to keep the loonies on the path”).  They are meant to chew grass and give milk, so they must be placated by shining, bright lies, funny anecdotes, a sense of confidence, and constant admonition not to criticize anything they don’t understand.  Since they don’t understand much, they naturally think that the best course is to abandon all discrimination (it leads to criticism, don’t you know?). If input appears not to fit into the set of categories authorized by the “ISKCON” paradigm, chelas are warned to ignore it; when that input is actually Krishna conscious, to follow such warnings means to merge further into avidya (ignore-ance).

As such, the assumptions and presumptions of these followers and fanatics always remain reactionary, although, for the sake of preaching and deluding themselves, they may adopt a liberal and progressive façade.  However, when compelling new evidence knocks on the door of their minds and deliberative faculties, it still has the potential to alter their outlook, except in the most hardened of cases.  One example of this can be a major scandal, e.g., a so-called mahabhagavat caught en flagrante in the act of homosexuality.  The artificial stability of the chela, created in personal consciousness, then tips on the razor’s edge.  He starts the painful psychic process of realizing that his conception of God and godliness has mostly been rooted in imagination, in illusion, and he has simply been a part of a process that is actually engaged in inflicting harm:

Hayagriva: Concerning religion, Nietzsche felt that, because Christ’s own disciples misunderstood him, Christianity, as such, never existed.
Prabhupada: If you create an artificial “God,” it is better that He is dead, so that he cannot inflict more injuries.
Hayagriva: Then it is better to have no conception of God than a bad conception?
Prabhupada: Yes, better.
Dialectical Spiritualism, Critique of Nietzsche

Elementary Penguins Chanting Hare Krishna

“For instance, the Jews say that they are the only selected people of God.  But what kind of God is this who selects some people and condemns others?” Dialectical Spiritualism, Critique of Aristotle

“It’s still the same, baby, baby, still the same. It’s still the same,
you’re still the same.”  Bob Seger.

When a bona fide guru manifests his form, knowledge, power, and activity, he then establishes a system of genuine religion and devotional practice.  He presents the Vedic and Vaishnava siddhanta as it is.  He warns against lying, cheating, and concoctions in the guise of religion or siddhanta.  Although his devotees are always encouraged to remain a fool in the presence of such an exalted spiritual master, in point of fact it dishonors him if his initiated disciples actually remain fools. 

He wants them to advance.  He wants each and every one of them to become a guru in his own right.  He wants them to become free from all unwanted habits and aparadhas (offenses), so that he can then give them the order to become diksa-gurus, or initiating spiritual masters, and spread Lord Caitanya’s mercy to every town and village of the world. He wants them to realize brahman as soon as possible (srotriyam brahma-nistham).

Through the agency of His Maya, concocted religious systems must be there by the will of the Supreme, because people want to be cheated by them.  Such so-called spiritualists want to remain as they are, not to undergo the process of spiritual and devotional rejuvenation, and want still to consider themselves special, destined for liberation in the supreme in this lifetime.  The bogus leaders of such unauthorized religions see to it that these sentimentalists and fanatics—who, through intelligence in the lower modes, always “understand” everything in convenient black and white categories—follow a dumbed-down version of the process. 

Those leaders fool them in this way, or, as Honest Abe so aptly put it: “You can fool some of the people all of the time.”  To become a transcendentalist selected by God, the disciple must develop intelligence in the sattvic mode, dovetail it to transcendence, activate real intuition (prajna), and constantly augment his reasoning and discriminatory power in Krishna consciousness.  A symptom of such development is that he does not artificially consider himself special.  Another symptom is that he follows the orders of the spiritual master just as they have been given to him, and he does not concoct any new philosophy or process:

 “In every system of religion, the order is to follow the instruction given by God or His representative.  Unfortunately, the so-called followers deviate from the orders of the master and sometimes create their own concocted religious system.” Letter to Mr. Dhawan, April 2, 1976

Fear and Loathing in the Vegas

Hayagriva: The Prince . . . contains the advice he (Machiavelli) chose to impart to the ruling Medici family.  It is a justification for power; the end justifies the means.  Success in attaining power makes one the object of obedience and respect.  Failure is the only sin.
Prabhupada: So, this is politics . . . Dialectical Spiritualism, Critique of Machiavelli

And the morals to be worshipped will be gone
And a parting on the left is now a parting on the right
And the fears of all grow longer overnight
The Who, Won’t Be Fooled Again

In the mid-Eighties, while living in a northern California mountain-valley just above Hopland, our rural temple/ashram was visited by various “ISKCON” malcontents.  One such fellow was quite the mundane genius type, particularly in the area of spotting how various angles and relative realities could be manipulated to advantage; he also liked to read occult literature.  He was never able to remain steady, although, during the periods he stayed with us, this new man made helpful contributions in terms of our revenue requirements.  He left and came back about three or four times (can’t remember the exact number). 

Each time he departed, he would associate with his former “ISKCON” peers at their center in order to yuk-it-up.  Then, when he would return, we would here stories, sometimes interspersed with minute repentance, about what he learned while he had been away.  The last time he came back, he related how he had gone into a Bay Area bookstore.  Whatever group you may be affiliated with, we are all into preaching.  As such, since he was associating with “ISKCON” during that time, as he was checking out an item to purchase from the store, he began preaching about that movement to the New Age clerk behind the counter.  After listening to the initial thrust of his spiel, the clerk replied:  “I hear it’s run by demons these days.”

Bogus cults, wrapping the mantle of alleged authenticity around themselves, claim that their leaders are automatically special: Automatically special even when they engage in unnecessary and degrading sense gratification . . . automatically special when they use fear and guilt to keep chelas fools and loyal to themselves and their institution . . . automatically special when they engage in never-ending politics. 

What the chelas caught in such an institution dread most, however, is its unreliability: Today’s great momentum somehow or other morphs into tomorrow’s heresy.  Such followers are forced to remain constantly on edge due to this; they come to, at least subconsciously, loathe these leaders for continually putting them through these excruciating hoops. 

However, because these chelas have staked out a share of sense gratification within the institution, and because their senses (vaco-vegam manasah krodha-vegam) are not controlled enough to stay above the degrading vortex of the outside world, they settle for accepting regular doses of fear as the price for staying on the boat.  Whether the new dispensation turns out to be a lie or not, as long as the GBC is pushing it at any given time, then it must be accepted.  If the next dispensation from the governing body is exactly opposite and contradicts the current line, well, the chela, at that time, will buckle to that one too. 

Telling Lies in America

“(The) chief obstacle in the way of development is lying. . . If man could be described as a zoological type, he would be described as a lying animal. . . the psychology of lying is much more difficult than we think, because there are many different kinds of lying and many very subtle forms hard to discover in ourselves.  In others, we see them comparatively easily, but not in ourselves. . . All we have is opinions, and they are all lies. . . Being surrounded by these lies, born and educated in these lies, we cannot be any different from what we are . . . just the result, the product of lying.” P. D. Ouspensky, The Fourth Way

In A Civil Action, John Travolta plays an ambitious lawyer, the head of a new and promising firm that takes on a case which looks to be a rainmaker.  It is a class-action lawsuit filed by plaintiffs whose health and lives were severely afflicted (even terminated) by pollutants from chemicals in their streams and rivers.  The plaintiff’s attorney and his team go up against very wealthy and powerful interests who know the black art of stalling for time, impeding any case, and conjuring up legal tactics that put the opposing firm through great strain--as well as in dire financial straits.  Travolta and his men--forced to live in a now barely furnished office, in deep debt, and completely flummoxed as to how to proceed--agree upon a minimum settlement offer. 

During a private meeting in his office, a powerful attorney for one of the chemical companies (obviously tipped by a lawyer from Travolta’s firm) just so happens to himself offer that exact figure, but there will be no admission of culpability in the settlement. Travolta tentatively accepts, adding that he has to get the approval of the woman who organized and now manages the class-action group itself.  She adamantly rejects the offer, because it does not contain an unequivocal admission of responsibility for all the human suffering wreaked by the chemical company.

Travolta’s men quit and abandon him, but the case finally does go to trial.  After the jury enters deliberation, the chief attorney (played by Robert Duvall) for the most powerful chemical firm, starts to get a bit nervous about the outcome.  He sits with the Travolta character in a hallway just outside the courtroom. The Duvall character writes a three-digit figure on a piece of paper, and carefully hands it to his counterpart: “How would like to see six zeroes added to that?”  It is an unprecedented offer!

The plaintiff’s attorney replies that he cannot accept it without the inclusion of culpability from the chemical firm.  The defendant’s attorney looks at him in amazement, asking him what he is actually after. The Travolta character says that he wants the truth.  The Duvall character, in utter contempt, completely jaded, and in sheer exasperation, replies:

“’Truth?!?   You’ll find ‘truth’ at the bottom of the bottomless pit!”

A great deal of damage has been perpetrated by wave after wave of lies produced from the ocean of nescience known as “ISKCON.” Maybe there was a time when you only suspected that you might have been lied to by the confederation, but the situation is different now: You’re being slapped straight in the face by so many lies!  Still, the truth remains elusive for you.  It does not have to be so. You will not be able to awaken until the enormity of all this institutional prevarication has sunk in.  Let us help you. It is time to wake up, and if you think that you can keep dragging your feet, and that time is on your side, guess again!

People are catching on, however.  Many devotees no longer accept any “ISKCON” propaganda as truthful, and this completely reverses the way we were encouraged to think about these leaders back in the day; it is something you have to come to grips with yourself, either today or tomorrow.  We want authority, genuine authority.  We want to have confidence in our spiritual leaders.  But we want complete honesty as well.

“ISKCON” has stretched the rubber band for three decades--and now it has snapped.  We live in an age of image manipulation, and they have taken advantage of that too: The fix-it-as-you-go strategy has run its course, however, as their lies have caught up with them.

Prabhupada would never have approved these American temples financing their operations as they do now, with all the compromises that are entailed in that.  The Hinduization of “ISKCON” was brought to your attention in March, 2007, but it has not at all abated.  Instead, we find American temples now stocked almost entirely by Pollacks, Ukranians, Russians, and Hindus, many if not most simply serving time in order to secure a green card: 

 “I am concerned to preach this gospel amongst the Europeans and Americans, and I am not at all interested to preach amongst the Indians, because they have now become hodge-podge, due to so many years of subjugation by foreigners and having lost their own culture.” Letter to Gurudas, Sept. 29, 1968

The whole operation is managed by powerful intelligences in the lower modes, and, as a result, is loaded with lies.  So many lies about how they became gurus, how the GBC is allegedly the highest spiritual authority, how the zonal acharyas were all good men who simply made mistakes that can be dismissed as growing pains, ad nauseum. 

The whole thing runs on a mystique, and intelligence that maintains historical accuracy is dismissed as limited and not transcendental, merely linear and rational.  Nevertheless, no one is free from the sinful reactions of speaking lies.  Every jot and tittle will eventually have to be addressed, and you, as an individual, are responsible for your life and death. 

Prabhupada began his movement in America, and the eleven pretender uttama-adhikaris, six of whom were of Jewish descent, were also all Americans.  As such, it behooves the American disciples to step forward now and challenge the whole imposition.  Devotees are suffering due to it, Mother Earth is suffering due to it, the people of the world are indirectly suffering due to it, the demigods are dismayed how it has carried on for this long, and His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada is being dishonored by it.  It has got to stop, and that can only happen if you are bold, daring, and active enough to take a stand and expose it--in the process, linking with a positive alternative in devotional life.  Let the women remain gentle; it is time for all the devoted American men to wake up!

 “Mother Earth has thus spoken: ‘There is nothing more irreligious than the compulsion to lie. I think that I am able to bear everything except the most heinous human being, the liar.’” Srimad Bhagavatam, 8.20.4


Tell a Friend

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