|“ISKCON” Gurus, Initiations, and Party Men
“. . . do not try to initiate. You are not in a proper
position now to initiate anyone. . . Don't be allured by such maya. . . Don't
be allured by cheap disciples. Go on steadfastly to render service first. If
you immediately become guru, then the service activities will be stopped; and
as there are many cheap gurus and cheap disciples, without any
substantial knowledge, and manufacturing new sampradayas, and with service
activities stopped, and all spiritual progress choked up.”
Secretary: What about the so-called gurus that take a little
bit here, a little bit there?
vidyam cavidyam ca yas
“Only one who can learn the process of nescience
and that of transcendental knowledge side by side can transcend the influence
of repeated birth and death and enjoy the full blessings of immortality.”
During the final years of the preaching activities of His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Maharaj Prabhupada Thakura, who was both shaktyavesh-avatar and Sampradaya-Acharya, one of his favorite initiated disciples was Professor Sanyal, a learned intellectual and an accomplished writer. Even during his manifest lila, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Gosvami Prabhupada--who was and remains a direct associate of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu (along with his illustrious father, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura)--approved of Professor Sanyal’s book. This book, entitled Krishna Chaitanya, was entirely bona fide according to the Sampradaya Acharya. I once possessed it, but the mahant of the Radha-Raman temple, Visvambhara Gosvami, asked me in Vrindavan to give it to him in 1984. I acquiesced to the request. His Divine Grace Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the most recent Sampradaya-Acharya and our initiating spiritual master, allowed that this book be consulted and read by his disciples, along with Bon Maharaj's Bhaktirasamritasindhu.
I had the actual quote (referenced below) by Prabhupada about Professor Sanyal, and it was used in my preaching in 1980, specifically at the beginning of a manuscript I co-authored back then entitled In The Measure of Our Conviction. The quote is not to be found in any later edition of the Bhaktivedanta Vedabase; perhaps, it has never been included in any ISKCON databases. If so, that is a shame. The quote is very important and should not be lost in the oblivion of time.
Now, I am going to share with you this quote from Srila Prabhupada as per my personal memory; what is written in bold italics is exact. The gist of the entire quote, as per its follow-up paragraph, is accurate and in context. Srila Prabhupada did not at all approve of this Professor Sanyal after the final day of 1936 (the disappearance of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta), neither did Srila Prabhupada approve of any of Professor Sanyal's writings after that time.
"Professor Sanyal, he was a very nice man. But he was a Party Man . . . “
[our reader subsequently provided the full quote, you can read it here]
That statement has been attributed to Srila Prabhupada. I do not exactly remember the wording of the rest of the quote, but I do remember what it meant and indicated. It indicated that, due to his having become a Party Man, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati arranged to have Professor Sanyal leave the scene very quickly. A recent posting on the INTERNET, by someone who apparently has researched Professor Sanyal, states that he died a natural death. If you have access to the exact quote, send it our way; we shall recognize it immediately and post it.
Apparently, Professor Sanyal joined the Party of Ananta Vasudeva (later called Puri Maharaj), as opposed to the Bagh Bazaar Party of Tirtha Maharaj. As such, his writings, after the disappearance of his Guru Maharaj, backed that (Vasudeva’s) party line. In the “ISKCON” movement a different course was followed, although there were parallels. Instead of declaring one mahabhagavat, it was declared by the “GBC” (just as falsely) that there were eleven of them. Of course, Ananta Vasudeva was a very learned scholar in the Vaishnava siddhanta, unlike the eleven Zonal Acharyas of the post-modern era. Still, despite his erudition and previous approval from the Acharya, Srila Prabhupada did not condone the writings of this Professor Sanyal after the disappearance of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura.
The most important thing to consider is that Srila Prabhupada did not approve of Party Men. He in effect condemned this kind of functionary. Currently, the original ISKCON movement is covered by the "ISKCON" sheath, just as our original mind, intelligence, and ego is covered by the material ego (ahankara), material intelligence, and material mind. The "ISKCON" movement is dominated by Party Men, and this has been the case since the late Seventies. The Party Men cooperated with the Zonals (of course, the Zonals themselves were all Party Men) and helped to empower them. The Party Man faction is a multi-faceted dynamic, composed of fanatics, sycophants, henchmen, and temple officers. It always has been.
There is Krishna Consciousness and then there is a perverted reflection of Krishna Consciousness. The Party Men of “ISKCON” represent, at best, only a reflection of Krishna Consciousness. The dynamic of the Party Man is found in what he thinks constitutes the recognition, approval, and blessings of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Party Men measure these ideals in terms of their position in the corporate structure of their institution. As long as they remain a somebody like a Temple President or a “GBC”—and as long as there is adequate revenue flow to continue in their status and with their project—then whatever they are doing or saying is considered spiritual by them. Krishna Consciousness means to see as Lord Krishna sees, to see as the Chaitya-guru or Paramatma sees. To become Krishna Conscious means to see the Party Men for what they really are.
The Party Men shift with the ever-changing winds of corporate doctrine. They are "GBC" loyalists. The "ISKCON" movement is completely under the control of the "GBC." Unlike ISKCON, however, the real GBC no longer exists—and, as far as that goes, it never did function in a bona fide way for a great deal of time even while Srila Prabhupada was still with us. The devolution of this governing body has been long in duration, the offenses have been very great, and the GBC has been ruined, permanently warped and perverted into the "GBC."
The Party Man is a particularly nasty piece of work. He sometimes comes in the form of a sannyasi. He is often completely without genuine conscience. His intelligence always works to ponder the Party Line and the current momentum; he always wants to make sure that he will be on the side that is winning. His shibboleth is: "'ISKCON'--with all thy faults--I still love thee!" He backs the current transformation, and we are now in the Second Transformation.
On Understanding the First Transformation
The First Transformation, or change, started to take place even before Srila Prabhupada left us. When any kind of organization is running powerfully, it is able to do so because one man embodies and exemplifies it. When there is no such man, the organization muddles on in a divided and often semi-disorganized manner. As such, a really powerful corporation is but the shadow of one man. When transformation devolves, it usually does so under one man’s influence.
Two men were vying for this power in the late Seventies: They were Kirtanananda Swami and Tamal Krishna Gosvami (TKG). The latter emerged finally victorious, because he was the best corporate manipulator. He did so in no small measure because he was able to secure the post of "taking care of" Srila Prabhupada in his last days. Something very nefarious took place during those final months (“Someone has poisoned me”). Srila Prabhupada’s wishes were not honored. We shall not go into the poison issue, but suffice it to say that there is plenty of evidence—and that evidence is not weak. Exactly how it all transpired is almost impossible to know without a smoking gun, i.e., without someone who was implicated spilling his guts.
But we do know that Prabhupada ordered that he be taken on parikrama during the last month, and that order was disobeyed. We do know that Prabhupada ordered that all of his disciples be told to come to Vrindavan to see him one last time during the last days, but that order was never relayed. Instead, it was amended to mean that one senior devotee from each temple or zone should go to Vrindavan (the Thanksgiving and Christmas pick could not be jeopardized!).
The actual Krishna consciousness movement had nothing whatsoever to do with change. It was a movement of spiritual rejuvenation, which is a completely different process from change or transformation. Srila Prabhupada was relegated to the position of a figurehead in the last months (or even years), and then eleven powerful men—under the ultimate influence of TKG—created the First Transformation. TKG was very instrumental in the coup of the spring of 1978, and an “Acharya Board" was created as an independent subset of the “GBC.” Yes, Swami B.R. Sridhar was also instrumental; he served as the soil for those eleven seeds of personal glory (“The poison is personal ambition”). There would have been no Zonal Acharyas, however, without the directed influence of TKG. The eleven Zonals constituted just short of half of the votes of the “GBC” during the spring of 1978, but they wielded far, far more than half of the influence on that governing body. The other Commissioners failed us, and they did not stop the eleven pretender mahabhagavats from their takeover of the movement. This was the First Transformation.
But Kirtanananda Swami set the tone in the run-up to that apocalyptic spring meeting in Mayapur, 1978. The actual big change started just days after Srila Prabhupada’s disappearance, and it began at New Vrindavan. Kirtanananda Swami, without any consultation and on his own authority, began accepting uttama-adhikari worship from everyone there, especially his godbrothers and godsisters. The “GBC,” already in the process of becoming corrupt, did nothing to check him. So, when that governing body convened in Mayapur in the spring of 1978, it had to confront the fact that one of the eleven men named as rittviks in the last days (during July of 1977) was accepting worship as a guru on the highest level of purity and realization. But Prabhupada had said, in late May of 1977, “Regular guru, that’s all.” Kirtanananda Swami was accepting far, far more than the accolades accorded a regular guru according to parampara and other Vaishnava traditions.
TKG backed the conclusion that the eleven men named as rittviks during the last five months while Prabhupada was with us were to automatically become gurus after his disappearance. He never got this clarified by Srila Prabhupada, of course. That the other ten newly-appointed “gurus” would back this line of thought was not improbable; it was in their obvious self interest to do so. However, if one of these eleven men was already accepting exalted worship, then what about the other ten?
am in due receipt of your letter, dated September 3 1975, with the enclosed statement about Bon Maharaja. So I have now issued orders that all my disciples
should avoid all of my godbrothers. They should not have any dealings with them
nor even correspondence, nor should they give them any of my books nor should
they purchase any of their books, neither should you visit any of their
temples. Please avoid them."
According to some devotee schuttlebutt—and there is no direct or tangible proof of it--Srila Prabhupada was supposed to have said that Swami B.R. Sridhar, a prominent Gaudiya Math leader, could be consulted for his philosophical views in connection with spiritual master. He was consulted, and his advice proved disastrous. He repeated the Bengali cliche mat guru si jagat guru, indicating that anyone who performs the formalities of the initiation ceremony should be accepted by his initiated disciple as a jagat guru (a far cry from what Prabhupada called “regular guru,” i.e., a guru under the regulation of vaidhi sadhana bhakti).
Similarly, Swami B. R. Sridhar in effect said: “Just put on the uniform, and you will become the soldier.” The implication of this bad directive was that just putting on the external pretense of guru would automatically grow you into actually being a guru. This may be New Age philosophy, but it is not the Vedic or Vaishnava process. Swami B. R. Sridhar asked what was the basis of these eleven men being guru. Were they recognized or appointed as such by Prabhupada? Swami B. R. Sridhar was informed that the basis of their claim was that these eleven men had been appointed as rittvik acharyas during the last months of Prabhupada’s manifestation.
Swami B. R. Sridhar then opined: “Rittvik-acharya, then it becomes as good as acharya.” It was his worst advice. This is exactly what TKG was thinking, so “after consultation with higher authorities” (penned by the chief scribe of the Zonals at the beginning of his position paper summing up this new dispensation), it was accepted that the new diksa gurus would only come from the eleven rittviks most recently appointed. This was cent-per-cent bogus, but it was accepted by all but one of the Commissioners. The others, who did not receive an appointment to become guru and a zone in which to initiate, went along to get along.
Swami B. R. Sridhar was also instrumental in setting up and approving the plan to have the eleven pretender mahabhagavats possess their own zones, and thus we had the First Transformation, which can be called the Era of the Zonal Acharyas. It was a complete disaster!
Now, the question may be raised: “Why do you personally criticize Swami B. R. Sridhar? He was Srila Prabhupada’s older godbrother. You should not criticize the godbrother of your Guru Maharaj.” Our answer to this doubt is as follows: It has been thirty years since the bad advice from Swami B. R. Sridhar was received and applied by the “GBC.” Srila Prabhupada waited for thirty years after the disappearance of his Guru Maharaj before he began to initiate disciples in the West. He was deputed by Srila Prabhupada Bhaktisiddhanta Goswami Maharaj to do just that, but he did not immediately even begin to take up that assignment for three decades. It has been two decades since Swami B. R. Sridhar left his body. We have refrained all of these decades from specifically mentioning him by name in any of our articles. So, we have observed the etiquette with particular restraint for a considerable time.
However, no individual did more damage to Srila Prabhupada’s Krishna Consciousness movement from the Gaudiya Math side than did Swami B. R. Sridhar. His negative influence on Srila Prabhupada’s movement is practically incalculable. All the senior men in the “ISKCON” movement know this to a lesser or greater extent. Most of the older devotees “outside the walls” know it as well. It is not often written about in any official documents, but it has been discussed amongst virtually every one of Prabhupada’s elder initiated disciples to a very substantial degree. It is now agreed by almost everyone that the misconception of the Zonal Acharya scheme was a devastation, and that arrangement has been officially rejected for decades.
Similarly, many of the rittviks—who rarely are inclined toward the Gaudiya Math--know of the damage done by Swami B. R. Sridhar. Some have written about it without any constraint and with considerable vitriol. We remain restrained concerning that style of writing, but we can no longer remain silent about his terrible advice and influence during the late Seventies and early Eighties.
You are reading this article because you have a profound desire to understand. This article has not been submitted to, or posted on, any popular or large devotee websites—at least not directly by us. You have earned the right to receive this information. Swami B. R. Sridhar did terrible damage in the form of his malefic advice and directions. The eleven pretender mahabhagavats ate up that bad advice, applied it, and transformed Srila Prabhupada’s Krishna Consciousness movement in the process. The eleven seeds needed the soil, and Swami B. R. Sridhar supplied the fertilizer.
The movement meant for the rejuvenation of pure spiritual life and realization amongst all of those who joined it—all of whom received genuine initiation from the real bona fide spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada—was transformed into something else in the spring of 1978. It was disconnected from the sampradaya (parampara) at that time, and Swami B. R. Sridhar along with the eleven pretender mahabhagavats--and especially the Party Men who helped to implement the scheme at the pragmatic level--were key players in this initial transformation or change.
This imposition of eleven powerful men as “mahabhagavats”--all of whom were loaded with personal and institutional anarthas--was a scheme that appeared unbeatable at first. They all had their own zones of influence. Had they stayed in their turfs and not criticized one another—if they had also not attempted so many outrages—then the concoction might have lasted longer than the eight or nine years it dominated everything and everyone. However, when conditioned souls, loaded with anarthas, imitate guru--and particularly when they imitate the actual self-realized soul--their destruction is arranged for by the demigods. This is, in part, because they are imitating the demigods. The immeasurable pride and audacity of the eleven pretender mahabhagavats was not merely the megalomania of some powerful leader of a nation-state. No. All eleven of these men were absorbed in the delusion of self-apotheosis.
They were all absorbed in the material mind. They were absorbed in their lusts and desires (kama-sankalpa), thinking these desires to be absolute. They were all absorbed in anger and hatred against anyone who criticized or thwarted them in any way. They were all very insane, but, due to having performed some buddhi-yoga in years past, they were still (generally) shrewd in their insanity. They were completely intoxicated by their great power over others, by the women who danced for them in front of their so-called vyasasans, and by the buzz they received on a daily and hourly basis as objects of worship by hundreds of dedicated fools and fanatics. They were regularly subjected to the fear of their scheme being exposed, especially by knowledgeable godbrothers who could see the faultlines in this unauthorized arrangement. They were very greedy for more and more disciples, more and more power, more and more money (“laxmi”), more and more fame and influence, and more and more “knowledge” of ways to better pull the whole thing off.
In short, all eleven of these men were full-blown sahajiyas.
The very best thing is the Sampradaya Acharya, the mahabhagavat absorbed in love of Godhead. When the very best thing is perverted and imitated, it quickly degenerates into the very worst thing; this is a universal principle. Each of the eleven pretender mahabhagavats warped into a terrible caricature of siddha-purusa. They were all pseudo gurus, and, in this monstrosity, their anarthas were supposed to be absolute and praiseworthy. So, instead of eleven somewhat advanced and learned devotees keeping their original initiated names, almost all of them adopted other names, usually ending in “pada.” This was a blatant and ultimately laughable imitation of Prabhu-pada.
Rather than go over their “pada” names—and how ludicrous each of those titles were—it is more efficacious to understand what each of these men became as a caricature, as they attempted to carve out an absolute identity as de facto popes within their zones. So, the fragmenting movement now had to contend with The Vanity Fair Despot, the Scholar, the Teflon Pundit, the Sun King, the Libertine, the Pusher, the Machiavellian Manipulator, the Fanatic Flag-Waiver, the Psychotropic Sahajiya, Das Fuhrer Comet, and the Post-Modern Magician.
They were the great cheaters, and everyone who followed them and actually believed that they were God-realized lovers of Truth constituted the cheated. The “ISKCON” movement devolved into the newest Society of the Cheaters and the Cheated, and, appropriately, they were all called “new gurus.” The Party Men cooperated; at this time, it was not in the personal interest of the Party Men to do anything to expose the arrangement if they did not believe in it. The more powerful became henchmen and enforcers, some became temple officers, some became intimate associates and sycophants, and some of them remained fanatics and true believers.
It was a Fool’s Paradise, and eleven men situated in such an unreliable state of being would not be able to maintain the artificial arrangement for long. They went into each other’s zones to collect, and this led to various reversals and confrontations. They criticized one another, and this led fanatics in various zones to question whether or not such “lila” was really indicative of persons supposedly situated in nikunjayuno ratikeli siddhaye. Remember, however, that Tamal was the man. When he went too far, then the whole edifice of this scheme started to crater.
The Initial Revolt in India
Before that, however, there was a mini-revolt. Actually, individual disgruntlement about the Zonal worship began to take place from different directions just days after the Mayapur fiasco. The now deceased Svarupa Damodar Swami began letting it be known that he considered the diksa guru arrangement to be artificial. On the whole, this disgruntlement was expressed on the basis of three considerations: 1) national, 2) racial, and 3) managerial.
All eleven of these pretender mahabhagavats were American. Hmmmmm. How was it that Prabhupada only appointed American mahabhagavats to continue his line of disciplic succession? After all, didn’t he himself come from India and wasn’t he of Indian birth? Didn’t both Lord Krishna and Lord Chaitanya perform Their Divine Pastimes in India, and didn’t They both take birth as (apparently) Indians? Why none of Prabhupada’s successors were Indian nationals? Over and above this, there was a racial consideration. In America, Jews account for less than three percent of the population. But six of these eleven pretender mahabhagavats, so-called Zonal Acharyas, were of Jewish descent. That’s well over fifty percent of the so-called successors. Why so many Jews? TKG, himself of Jewish decent, was the man exemplifying the whole scheme. Was it some kind of Jewish cabal?
And what about the other GBCs? True, the most prominent eleven GBC men captured the gadi, but there were one or two or three or four other managers of considerable distinction who were almost as powerful and prominent as each of these eleven sahajiyas. Why those other GBCs should not be able to sit on a vyasasana, give initiations, and become Zonal Acharyas?
So, these dissatisfactions and disillusionments—based upon envy, of course—led to some back-biting and bickering. It also led to politics. It was well known that Pradyumna prabhu was the most accomplished devotee in the movement in Sanskrit, and he served for a very long time as Srila Prabhupada’s secretary in that capacity. He was not a Party Man, however, and neither was he a GBC at any time. It was also well known that Pradyumna had received the assignment of completing the Srimad Bhagavatam if Prabhupada did not do so. Most thought that Srila Prabhupada would do so—he also had indicated that he would produce a commentary of the Padma Purana—but His Divine Grace (who left in disgust) only completed formal commentary on the first nine cantos of the Bhagavatam. So Pradyumna had this important seva, but he became dismayed about the Zonal Acharya pompous worship that was taking place, especially in America and Europe.
Some of the GBCs, particularly two Indians who were left out, wanted to be brought into the diksa-guru club. Other devotees began to think that the whole “mahabhagavata” scheme was a bogus arrangement. This, both directly and indirectly, led to a mini-confrontation in February of 1979 in Vrindavan. A Position Paper was proffered by one of the prominent leaders of that temple, and it received thirty-six signatures by the devotees who resided there, or in the area, at the time. This paper argued that the eleven men had no right to accept uttama-adhikari worship, but, in its ignorance, it conceded that they were appointed to be the diksa gurus of ISKCON.
Some brief background of this mini-revolt is required here. One of the original protestors was the Temple President of another temple in India. Previous to winding up in Vrindavan for his last days, Prabhupada stayed at this center. During that time, this T.P. had some intimate association with His Divine Grace, and he was shocked to hear from Prabhupada the following quote:
“I am trying to liberate my disciples, but the GBC is trying to keep them in bondage.”
This Temple President shared that quote with the aforementioned prominent leader in the Vrindavan center, and he directly shared it with me. Pradyumna did not sign the aforementioned Position Paper, but he was consulted about it and mostly favorable to its points. Instead, just prior to it, he wrote a letter of protest regarding the Zonal Acharya worship arrangement, and mailed that to the chief scribe of the “GBC” in America. The ad hoc protest movement in Vrindavan did not comprehensively understand the Truth, facts, or the actual history of the deviation, because nobody could have at that time. Nevertheless, it was on a better track; it wanted to speak Truth to power. It was, however imperfectly, trying to free the Krishna Consciousness movement from the developing corruption that was quickly becoming institutionalized.
As could have only been expected, TKG—who was expert in understanding and implementing political tactics—traveled to the other aforementioned southwestern temple and snapped that member of the protest movement back into the party line. There was heavy intrigue, treachery, and even betrayal just before the actual debate in Vrindavan. The “new gurus” did not come to participate in this confrontation for the purpose of Truth. As Pradyumna prabhu would later say, after he refused, the day of the debate, to return for its second session:
“These men are not honest.”
The mini-revolt in Vrindavan in 1979 was crushed. Pradyumna presented his solid arguments and shastric points, but the Zonal Acharya who was assigned by the others to contend with him emoted a little over ten minutes into the debate. At that point there was no longer a debate, and for pretty much the rest of the day the opposition was smashed. It was not difficult, as insidious methods (all centering around fear, guilt, deception, and bewilderment) were employed by the triumphant eleven “mahabhagavats.” All but four of the signatories to the document recanted and apologized to the ever-victorious Zonal Acharyas, instilling in them even more pride and overconfidence. Pradyumna prabhu had his service taken away from him; he was replaced by a Zonal Acharya as the person now authorized to produce commentaries on the Bhagavatam. The Vrindavan mahant who oversaw the Position Paper was replaced as the leader of Gurukula.
The mini-revolt, despite its defeat, led to some progressive developments. It was a battle lost in a war that is not over and has not yet been decided. Did Prabhupada actually appoint these men? The revolt had now brought the appointment itself into question.
Instability/Self-Apotheosis: A Bad Combo
Two Zonal Acharyas, who ruled over contiguous zones in California, were very severely criticizing one another as the decade came to a close. The leading collectors in Los Angeles became disturbed in their minds about it, and they were unable to rationalize this mutual condemnation being made between two “uttama-adhikaris.”; they could not figure out how it was “lila.” One of the collectors, a senior female devotee, demanded proof of their claim to appointment, and her Zonal provided this devotee with the May 28, 1977 tape. She quickly realized that the tape did not even constitute strong evidence of any so-called appointment, what to speak of conclusive proof. She had a private meeting with him atop the L.A. temple and verbally dressed him down. He removed the vyasasan in the temple and agreed with her that the whole pretense of taking mahabhagavat worship was bogus. This breath of fresh air did not last long, however, as three of the other Zonals quickly flew to the Los Angeles yatra and turned the situation back around.
Due to the developing controversy, spawned by the confrontation in Vrindavan, a most important “adjustment” by the Zonal Acharyas and their Party Men eventually transpired. There was no strong proof that Prabhupada appointed eleven initiated disciples of his to even become diksa gurus, what to speak of mahabhagavats. So, the leaders simply slipped their claim to authorization down one notch, i.e., they admitted that Prabhupada did not actually make the appointment, BUT THEY SAID HE APPOINTED THE G.B.C. TO BE ABSOLUTE AUTHORITY. In other words, Prabhupada assigned the position of successor authority to the group, to the GBC.
This was but another major deviation from how a Vaishnava parampara continues. A group is never the collective guru, neither can it decide who is guru or Acharya. The genuine guru personally orders his disciple to become guru, when that disciple reaches the level required by his guru and when the guru deems that his disciple should begin initiating new people into the line. Obviously, the genuine guru will never personally give such an order to any disciple who still possesses even one anartha. A guru cannot have anarthas; that is not possible. There is no such thing as a bad guru. There is such a thing as a pseudo-guru or a sahajiya; these kinds of “devotees” are loaded with anarthas. And they pass their anarthas on to their initiated disciples.
But the GBC was eventually considered a kind of New Leviathan, a Collective Guru. Supposedly possessing this absolute authority, it was now claimed that, when it officially recognized eleven of its own to be worshipped as mahabhagavats, that decision was absolute. It authorized the carving up of the world into eleven zones and claimed the inherent power to do so. This was a fix-it-as-you-go rationalization, after the basis of the so-called appointment of eleven diksa gurus by Prabhupada was seen to have no standing. Each of these so-called uttama-adhikaris would now be known as Zonal Acharyas, according to the “GBC.” In terms of “ISKCON” dogma, any rebellion against this arrangement was said to be a kind of defiance (guror-avajna) of the Founder-Acharya, Srila Prabhupada—in the form of direct defiance against his so-called successor, the “GBC.”
That Prabhupada had said “Regular guru, that’s all,” and, much more importantly, that he had not given the order (to become guru) to any of his disciples formally during the time he was still manifest, became relegated to ancient history and ultimately considered irrelevant. The “GBC” had supposedly received the full mantle of Srila Prabhupada’s purity and transcendental authority. After all, didn’t Prabhupada in his Will call it the “ultimate managerial authority?” The “GBC” could now decide how to continue the sampradaya. The hubris here was immeasurable, and this audacity of the “GBC” translated into the self-apotheosis of its Zonals.
The “GBC” did decide how to supposedly continue the sampradaya—in a most unauthorized way. Nevertheless, this argument appeared to be just as impenetrable as the appointment imposition was previously; all the Party Men bought into it, of course. TKG was still the embodiment of the “GBC”, and the “GBC” was now the ultimate authority for the Krishna Consciousness movement. The power guys made a great power play. Case closed!
But the seeds of dissent had been sown, and word got around. Over and above this, the bad old days of the Zonal Acharyas were blossoming in full, in no small part due to their mood of triumphalism. Pride cometh before the fall; this heady era of the Zonals soon led to some big problems—as self-apotheosis is always prone to produce. TKG was the man, and he soon decided to put the pedal to the metal. He declared that, in his zone, only his books should be read by his disciples. Since he was the spiritual master, the mahabhagavat, his disciples should simply inculcate his realizations and directions. He demanded absolute control in his zone, and all “godbrothers” were admonished to follow his lead in all respects.
This imposition of absolute control led to a revolt in his zone by some senior men. These prominent Party Men initially considered (rightly) that TKG was the vanguard of the new arrangement and was their best bet for moving up (and maybe capturing the gadi themselves). Now they were disillusioned, because TKG’s heavy-handedness and complete control let them all know that they were going nowhere—except to remain under him. Only certain Zonal Acharyas—and there was no need to expand the number according to the vested interest of the Acharya Board--were authorized by the “GBC” to spread the so-called Krishna Consciousness movement in the fertile field of anarchistic America. TKG had decided to turn the screws even further then the “GBC” had directed, so, in his zone and under his command, any kind of future disgruntlement would be extinguished before it could even get started.
And here’s the important point to learn from his going a bridge too far: The “GBC” is the ultimate controlling vortex of the fabricated so-called “ISKCON” confederation. Even its personified representative can be dragged down if he strays from its astral pleasure. The “GBC” is not linked to the Madhva-Gaudiya Vaishnava Sampradaya; it is not linked to any devotional parampara powerhouse. It is linked to another source of power, and this will be explained later in the article. Since all material powers in the universe come under the specific portfolio of one of the nine planets, it is linked to one such planet in particular--and it gets its power on the gross plane from that source, also. It does not at all discourage the manifestation of flamboyant, charismatic, or sahajiya tendencies in its prominent members (“gurus”)—as long as it is for the purpose of expanding its material body or congregation, as long as the ultimate controlling force of the “GBC” is not undermined in the process.
As soon as that is threatened, it will tear down any personality that has the temerity to make such an attempt. And no individual can remain within the “ISKCON” it controls if he, in any way, undermines the authority of this egregor. The “GBC” is more powerful than any individual personalities constituting its power nodes or body on the gross plane, and it is more powerful than even a group of such so-called devotees.
The “GBC” tore down its apparent chief representative in the person of TKG. He got his zone taken away from him, and his sanction to initiate was restricted. The disgruntlement produced by his self-apotheosis led the other flamboyant enjoyers and Party Men—and, yes, envy was certainly involved—to bring him down, temporarily. This created a vacuum, as there was no longer one leader who exemplified the corporation on the gross plane.
Others quickly got into trouble as well. One of the European Zonal Acharyas was engaged in LSD ecstacies, and, although this was covered up for years, that bluff could not last long. A West Coast Zonal got implicated in criminal activities, some of them violent, and he was relegated to the same bad boy status as TKG (eventually culminating in excommunication a few years later). Another European Zonal in due course became exposed for lavish expenditures and gold bathroom fixtures. Two of the “new gurus” became either rumored to be involved in or directly implicated in separate homosexual activities. Worst of all, the Zonal who was the chief scribe produced a very offensive and misleading biography of Srila Prabhupada. It was sweet rice combined with sand and drops of virile poison. On the whole, none of the other ten mahabhagavat pretenders could replace TKG, so the Zonal Acharya Era of the First Transformation was jeopardized. The aforementioned rebellions by the Party Men grew in intensity and started to become a bit organized.
Triumphalism and self-apotheosis on the part of imitation mahabhagavats produced extreme swings in behavior and confidence and this reverberated throughout the movement. There are universal laws and principles to make sure such combustible instability does not last long. These men were initiating new people, all of whom had little or no knowledge of the Vedic or Vaishnava teachings, all of whom had little or no detachment from material enjoyment, and all of who were prime candidates to be misled by powerful, charismatic pretenders:
“The ignorant pseudo religionists and the manufacturers of so-called incarnations who directly violate the Vedic injunctions are liable to enter into the darkest region of the universe because they mislead those who follow them. . . If such foolish men have any knowledge at all, it is more dangerous in their hands than ignorance itself. . . The pseudo religionists have neither knowledge nor detachment from material affairs, for most of them want to live in the golden shackles of material bondage under the shadow of philanthropic activities disguised as religious principles. By a false display of religious sentiments, they present a show of devotional service while indulging in all sorts of immoral activities. In this way, they pass as spiritual masters and devotees of God. Such violators of religious principles have no respect for the authoritative acaryas, the holy teachers in the strict disciplic succession. . . Instead, to mislead the people in general, they themselves become so-called acaryas, but they do not even follow the principles of the acaryas. . . These rogues are the most dangerous elements in human society. Because there is no religious government, they escape punishment by the law of the state. They cannot, however, escape the law of the Supreme, who has clearly declared in the Bhagavad-gita that envious demons in the garb of religious propagandists shall be thrown into the darkest regions of hell (Bg. 16.19-20). Sri Isopanisad confirms that these pseudo religionists are heading toward the most obnoxious place in the universe after the completion of their spiritual master business, which they conduct simply for sense gratification.” Sri Isopanisad, Verse 12, purport
“Gurus” are Cheap; Initiation Isn’t
At this point, it is important to get some understanding of spiritual or devotional initiation. The eleven pretender mahabhagavats 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 mahabhagavat. 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 psycophants were, especially if he was already in the process of developing an upadhi (big positions are sometimes created for big egos). In his mind, these other devotees 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 Sampradya Acharya (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 the 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 Acharya. 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. Ttherefore, 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. The DOM cannot historically be either belittled or considered irrelevant; it was integral to the very essence and existence of the Governing Body Commission.
“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.”
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.
According to the DOM, the Temple Presidents were to elect up to eight GBCs every three years and discard four GBCs from the Board. Srila Prabhupada then, according to the DOM, was authorized to choose other commissioners. As per the DOM, "In the event of Srila Prabhupada's absence,” the retiring four GBC members (not re-elected to the GBC) elect four devotees as their replacements. As such, there are term limits imposed upon the GBC by the Direction of Management document (DOM). It is self-evident that the GBC was not some kind of Group Leviathan and that none of its members could be assured that their tenure on the Board would be for a very long duration. None of the originally appointed commissioners from 1970 is on the “GBC” in 2008, and this has been the case for many years.
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.
This deviation was never rectified, and, as such, it actually guts the whole foundation of the thing, especially after the disappearance of Srila Prabhupada. 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-Acharya 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.”
“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 unprecendented 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.
Also, over and above this, Srila Prabhupada never ordered specifically that the DOM be rescinded. On the contrary, in Sept. of 1974, His Divine Grace wrote a letter to Mukunda referencing the authority of the DOM, and, in November, 1974, he wrote two letters to Rupanuga referencing the authority of the DOM. In all three letters, he emphasized the authority of the DOM and its principles. As a further consideration, these letters were written just months before the GBC meeting of 1975.
There were two phases of the DOM. Phase One, the initial phase, involved selection of the GBC members by Srila Prabhupada. Phase Two, known to be applicable in "the succeeding years," stipulated that GBCs were to be elected by Temple Presidents. All the 1975 GBC meeting did was prove that Prabhupada had mercifully extended the Phase One stage of the DOM, since his GBC had failed to follow his orders in connection to Phase Two. It is clear in 1975 that Srila Prabhupada was still functioning in his capacity of selecting the initial GBC members. He was acting in his stipulated role as the absolute authority over ISKCON, over the GBC.
As of May, 1977, Srila Prabhupada was still fulfilling this same role, as he clearly (in the so-called appointment tape) ordered that Vasudeva das of Fiji was to be added to the GBC. Indeed, Srila Prabhupada's last letter ever written, in September of that year, was to Vasudeva prabhu. There is some evidence that Prabhupada allowed that the GBC not be elected, but that could only be in the context of Phase One; otherwise, the GBC would die out (of course, from the transcendental standpoint, such an event would be a good thing).
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. We are now just being made aware that, before the so-called appointment section of the tape--and, indeed, as an integral part to the whole discussion--the GBC itself was discussed by Srila Prabhupada on May 28, 1977. The same rascaldom later present in this tape, viz., air-headed queries by its two sannyasis (soon to become Zonal Acharyas), is manifestly present in this section as well:
Satsvarupa: These are the
members of the original GBC (as) you first made it up. So our first question
is about GBC members. We want to know how long they should remain in office.
The “GBC” claims that Prabhupada, in May of 1977, changed and replaced the main feature of the DOM elections (of GBCs by Temple Presidents, which the commissioners never allowed to take place) with elections of GBCs only by remaining commissioners. This is based on the "silence means acceptance" principle. It is absolutely preposterous and rascal. This self-serving interpretation was nothing less than a blatant power grab and an elimination of the checks and balances feature of the DOM. To have had any validity, such a major and significant change to the constitution of the GBC would have to have been written as an Amendment and signed by Srila Prabhupada.
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.
Srila Prabhupada never amended the DOM in any way that rescinded its election provisions. Prabhupada indicated the end of the Phase One stage in May of 1977, that’s all. Elections should have taken place no later than November, 1980, as Phase Two kicked in as soon as he departed manifest existence. The bottom line is that the “GBC” has absolutely no credibility and no genuine or authoritative standing. It is a broken arrow. It is a covert form of tyranny and is a power unto itself. It has engaged in grievous deviations from its own constitution; it has not fulfilled its responsibilities in connection to documents binding and restraining it.
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 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 Park. 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?”
“. . . relieve me from the
management so I can translate my books. But I do not want to see that
everything deteriorates by your management.”
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 mahabhagavats 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 mahabhagavats 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 mahabhagavat—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 mahabhagavats themselves and between and amongst their loyal adherents. The eleven pretender mahabhagavats 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 “mahabhagavat” 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 unprecendented step of leaving the “ISKCON” party, eventually formed 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 mahabhagavats 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 Sulocan. 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 mahabhagavats 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 wove 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 “mahabhagavats”—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 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 mahabhagavats. 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
“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 catastrophy. 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.
Understanding Silver Linings and Anarthas
These kind of divisive confrontations have a way of perpetuating themselves, and other personalities, the ones who had not been recognized as gurus by the “GBC,” thought they actually deserved consideration from the governing body. The negative backwash from the schism did not hurt their cause. Two Indian-born commissioners and one American were now voted in as gurus, the first intentional expansion.
In the aftermath of the schism, finally, for the first time, devotees who were outside of all this intrigue (as long as they had never been infected with the “ISKCON” bija) began to recognize that something must be wrong with the cult at a very fundamental level. Some of them joined the malcontents of the Neo-Gaudiya Math, but others could not stomach such a decision. Srila Prabhupada was not at all emphasized in the Neo-Gaudiya Math; in fact, he was surreptitiously belittled in that faction. The common attitude toward “Swami Maharaj” of the Gaudiya Math infected some of the Neo-Gaudiyas. This was completely abhorrent to most of Prabhupada disciples. The mood and style of the Neo-Gaudiya Math was different from Prabhupada’s original movement. By this time, of course, that was also the case within “ISKCON,” but, at least some worship of His Divine Grace was going there.
More and more, there was an exodus of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples from “ISKCON” to take their chances in the outside world, trying to prosecute Krishna Conscious activities, preaching, and sadhana as best they could “outside the walls” of a movement they had formerly dedicated their lives to in intense sincerity and seriousness. The question may be raised as to how all this hell could go on when, at least initially, the movement had been directly connected to the Supreme Universal Controller, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Ultimate Overseer. This question may be justly raised.
Many very bad things happened to devotees both within and without the “ISKCON” faction after Prabhupada disappeared, but there were also some silver linings provided after he left us. These should be recognized, as they were bestowed by the mercy of Sri Sri Guru-Gauranga. One of the big silver linings was eventual freedom from all the little tyrants. Since Srila Prabhupada wanted privacy and facility to write his books, he allowed this despotism to go on while he was with us, knowing that he could check it if it got out of hand. However, it was stifling back then, and most devotees who were initiated by Prabhupada in the late Sixties or early Seventies—who, in that sense, could be considered senior disciples—had experience of this. It increased in the first one or two years after Srila Prabhupada departed.
After all, persons who surrendered to Srila Prabhupada were not ordinary men and women; they were special individuals. They had paid their dues in the material world before coming to his movement, and they had tried to surrender to him on the principle that such devotional service would upgrade them into advanced and elevated spiritual personalities. They developed and increased their seriousness, sincerity, knowledge, realization, and personal power in the process. So, as the ridiculous turned into the absurd, these devotees could not block the realization that “ISKCON” was becoming spiritually bankrupt.
The rationalization factory broke down, because the absurdity of the situation kept getting more and more ludicrous, dangerous, and outrageous. This produced a silver lining, for devotees realized that remaining affiliated with the organization constituted misuse of free will. They clearly saw that nothing which could be remotely called yoga was any longer going on in the managerial strata of what was once an organized mission of devotion to the Lord.
Making excuses for the leaders--in terms of their playing out their anarthas, or in terms of their having taken on so much good and bad karma from new disciples-- could no longer hold water. Anarthas are unwanted activities that do not please the Spiritual Master, do not please the parampara, and do not please the Supreme Personality of Godhead. But anarthas are not guaranteed to stay that way. A devotee is enjoined to overcome his or her anarthas, not harden them. Anarthas that are discarded no longer are part of a bhakti-yogi’s state of being. Indeed, this is an essential component of the whole process.
However, in the case of “ISKCON,” anarthas were becoming institutionalized. The persons who were benefiting from this had a vested interest not to even consider transcending or overcoming them. Many anarthas were becoming glorified as actually part of the “guru’s” transcendental display of love of Godhead, and this flamboyance is called sahajiyism. As stated previously, none of the original eleven pretender mahabhagavats was a guru in the true sense of the term. They were all sahajiyas. And the “GBC” had no actual right or power to recognize them as spiritual masters. The whole thing was a charade.
Most anarthas have a remote connection to sin. When anarthas reflect what otherwise would be activity in the modes of passion and ignorance, they reflect an element of sin. When anarthas reflect an activity that would otherwise have been undertaken in the mode of goodness, they have a remote connection to pious activities. But anarthas are, in and of themselves, not karmic. They do not produce a karmic or vikarmic reaction. If anarthas were empowered to produce a binding reaction, then it would be impossible to become brahma-realized through the process of sadhana vaidhi-bhakti. This is one of the intercessions provided by the Supreme Lord to the devotee when he or she has been initiated (bhajana-kriya) by a bona fide spiritual master in the Vaishnava sampradaya.
Nevertheless, when anarthas are hardened, made habitual, glorified, and considered spiritual, then a certain kind of diabolical intelligence develops in the personality of one who allows this to transpire within himself. In Sanskrit, this intelligence is called papa-buddhi, which means sinful intelligence. Sinning on the strength of the Holy Name is considered the most dangerous nama-aparadha, which is an anartha. This activity remains in the category of anartha for some time, but, at a certain point, it becomes too abominable to be excused. At a certain point it generates reaction, in which case there will have to be a karmic, mishra-karmic, or vikarmic reaction for the personality who no longer really possesses the consciousness of trying to become a pure servant of the Lord.
At least four of the original “new gurus” were seen to have been engaged in deviant activities in the early Eighties, and some of them were punished for it. Actually, all eleven of them were deviants. The Zonal Acharya with supposedly the cleanest profile did the most damage. That destruction continues in its abominable influence to this day. The so-called biography of Srila Prabhupada was the most effective way of bringing His Divine Grace into a perspective that was not at all commensurate with his true glories or his mission. The humanization of His Divine Grace, the warping of his pastimes, the overemphasis on his (apparent) frailties, and the side-tracking of his contribution (and giving undue credit to his disciples instead) constituted gurv-aparadha in a most insidious way. The many indirect offenses (gurv-aparadha) contained in this biography are so subtle and degrading that it will take decades, if not centuries, to overcome the influence of this “ISKCON” subsidized and “authorized” so-called biography.
Yet, as devotees completely lost faith in the “GBC” and in the organization it controlled, they could actually come to terms with their own delusions and fanaticisms. They could actually come to grips with their anarthas and see the importance of getting free from them, along with the realization that this could only be done outside the bad association of the Party Men. As such, the deviation produced a silver lining of freedom from a degenerating cult that was actually engaged in covering Krishna Consciousness in the name of spreading it.
Murder of the Rebel Sulochan
The turmoil of the early Eighties was sometimes conveniently dismissed as merely “growing pains,” part of “the test” that could only be expected after the disappearance of the Founder-Acharya. Some tried to explain it all away as part of “Krishna’s arrangement.” This loose way of thinking, feeling, and acting is integral to the sahajiya make-up. In the early Eighties, the status of the disciples of the most blatant sahajiya guru, the one who went over to the Gaudiya Math, was now in question. His disciples were urged to take advantage of his being exposed and find another recognized initiator within the cult.
All of a sudden, some obtuse shastra was dug up, an indicator of or shastric sanction for so-called “re-initiation.” In other words, it now became “ISKCON” dogma that a guru (even if previously worshipped as a mahabhagavat!) could fall down. And, furthermore, when it became clear that he had fallen down into blatant sinful activity—and it only became clear when the “GBC” said that it did—then an initiated disciple of his no longer had any obligation to honor the previous relationship with the man. Not only that, but the cult pushed the (disconnected?) disciple to accept “re-initiation” from a guru in good standing.
There was another facet to all of this. Some powerful godbrothers, not yet recognized as guru, could take advantage of this problem in a diametrically different way. This turmoil provided a springboard for them to mount a campaign against the policies of the remaining but dwindling Zonals, or, in other words, to more or less force the “GBC” to address the issue of guru expansion and other institutional problems. These in-house critics often held positions of power and influence. Some of them were willing and able to cash in their protest in order to receive for themselves a vote by the “GBC” to the position of guru; in this way, they could and would capture the gadi. But that had to wait until the mid-Eighties.
For the Party Men, there was always a way to dismiss any event, no matter how shocking, scandalous, or jarring, and fit it into their mosaic of a predestined arrangement for the eventual triumph of “ISKCON.” This mentality of pseudo-justification wound up applying not only to former godbrothers but to even newly-initiated adherents of the cult, those who could no longer go up on the altar and worship the Deities. It takes two to tango. In other words, if an “ISKCON” guru was considered or found out to be a blatant cheater, then those who got cheated by him deserved to be cheated. Or: “If those new people were sincere, then they would have never subjected themselves to that guru or that initiation in the first place.”
This is a convenient and ruthless explanation, of course, but the apologists for “ISKCON” would use it. That it was a handy little weapon for them does not mean that it is ultimately wrong. Still, the main unforeseen negative repercussion relating to the schism had become the status of the new initiates who had accepted initiation from a former “mahabhagavat,” one who was now either de facto or de jure excommunicated from the cult. At first, they were all pushed to accept “re-initiation” from a guru in good standing.
But this was questioned in time, because, by the mid-Eighties, three more Zonals would bite the dust, bringing the number who had been embarrassed, punished, exposed, or who had left to six or possibly seven. Some of the newcomers had to renounce not only their first initiation, but even two or three “re-initiations.” As aforementioned, by the early Eighties, at least two of the original eleven pretenders were on the outside looking in. It only got worse.
But what was that disciple’s status in the interim stage, in the stage before he accepted so-called re-initiation, or, in some cases, in the stage when he did not want to accept any kind of further re-initiation? At first, he was denied brahmincal facilities, such as Deity worship (if he had supposedly received gayatri from his now fallen guru). But this attitude eventually broke down, because so many of these newcomers took a “re-initiation” that again was made null and void. Of course, the real question centers around whether or not any of these new people was genuinely initiated in the first place.
Eventually, some kind of better “adjustment” had to be made, otherwise most of these newcomers would leave and/or join the Neo-Gaudiya Math. At least one commissioner began to advocate that these newcomers were still linked to the parampara even if their diksa guru was no longer considered bona fide by the cult. The rationale for this was that they were initially linked to the parampara through “ISKCON” and not through their guru. Taking this concoction one obvious step further, since it was (and remains) an undisputed fact that “ISKCON” was controlled by the governing body, the sanction of the governing body, in the form of its approval of its initiation process, confirmed that these newly-initiated devotees were initially connected to the sampradaya by the sanction of the process itself.
In the Vaishnava Foundation, we label each of these kinds of powerful rationalizations with a term, and that term is devastator. A devastator is a big lie, usually promoted for the purpose of bewilderment. It sounds really good (superficially) when you first hear it. But, when you examine it through the eyes of shastra (shastra-chakshuh) and shine some logic onto it, the devastator is seen to have no legitimacy whatsoever in the context of Vedic and Vaishnava philosophy or process. The concept that it was the new initiate’s fault for allowing himself or herself to be cheated, to have attempted to surrender to a bogus guru, was, in and of itself, not a devastator.
However, the concept that the link to the parampara is actually through the corporate body of “ISKCON” is a devastator—and it was not the only one that sprang up during this period of chaos, turmoil, and fix-it-as-you-go reactions. Another one was the false hope that the “GBC,” even if it was wrong, would eventually get everything right. This devastator can be summarized as “the inherent, self-corrective mechanism of the GBC,” but that body never possessed any such blessing, and it certainly does not have any such benediction now.
In 1981 in the Seven Mothers Restaurant in San Francisco, I had a personal talk with one of the governing body gurus who wound up capturing the gadi in the mid-Eighties. I questioned him about the very basis of what the “GBC” was doing, from every angle. I questioned the very legitimacy of all the initiation ceremonies that had been performed thus far. His reply to me was a devastator (which I didn’t buy into): “Somebody has to cheat them.” Formerly, this devastator was in the form of: “Somebody has to initiate them.” It had morphed into a lower variety by this time.
Similarly, there was another devastator that was used effectively throughout both this period, and especially during the years just previous to it. That one was: “But what have you done for Srila Prabhupada?” When various devotees would criticize what was going on in the cult, its Party Men would often respond with this retort. They would take credit for whatever material accomplishments had been garnered by the movement worldwide—in the form of “laxmi,” new temples, new devotees, etc. They would combine this with a personal offense to the critic—despite the fact, as often as not, that devotee was fully justified in his or her criticism—by demanding to know what results he or she had produced within the arena of “ISKCON.” Of course, if you did not at all believe in what “ISKCON” was doing, you would have no such results to reference, because you would have left the thing or you were so outspoken that you had been kicked out.
I have a personal associate within the Vaishnava Foundation who was kept in a kind of limbo for over one year by one single devastator. He had accepted three different initiations from his guru, one of the original eleven. But he could see, by the early Eighties, that his so-called guru could not possibly be bona fide. Still, this devotee accepted one “nugget of wisdom” that had been intimately passed his way, viz., “as long as you intensely follow somebody, you’ll eventually reach a bona fide guru.” The motto of the story: Never underestimate the power of one effective devastator.
After the schism with the Gaudiya Math, and after the vote, appointment, or recognition of three more “mahabhagavats," everything supposedly returned back to normal. Remember, the main devastators, the really big lies, were still solidly in place at that time. The appointment idea was being questioned now, but it was still believed as legitimate by the devotees at large; its questioning was being tolerated, because that could not be checked. Still, nobody who wanted to interface within “ISKCON” would dare to question the legitimacy of the “GBC” itself as the so-called ultimate authority. Since the “GBC” decided to maintain the uttama-adhikari worship of its gurus, and since it decided to expand its diksa fold by the addition of three new commissioners, then this was (allegedly) absolutely. It was supposed to be accepted as Lord Chaitanya’s direct and perfect Will for the expansion of His growing Krishna Consciousness movement, predestined to one day flood the world in an ocean of love of Godhead!
Over and above this, the vote, appointment, or recognition of three new diksas by the “GBC” was an excellent political move. Their disgruntlements over the guru expansion question had become more and more pronounced as things began to unravel and disintegrate during this period of turmoil. Now, with the Neo-Gaudiyas having become powerful enemies--and with at least two of the original pretender mahabhagavats being in position to expose the scam--the “GBC” needed some solid buttressing. So this arrangement was all “Krishna’s mercy!”
Well, maybe . . . maybe not.
The post-modern era began on November 15, 1977 (for more information on this, contact the Vaishnava Foundation or use your own intuition to figure it out). Well after the schism with the Gaudiya Math and after the approval of three new diksa gurus, once again the Party Men in general, and the Zonal Acharyas in particular, could feel renewed confidence. This mood was manifest to no greater degree than within the confines of the West Virginia compound.
And there, at this time, we find one Sulocan das. He was not a Party Man, but he was dedicated to “ISKCON,” the “GBC,” and the resident Zonal, thinking that they were representing the will of Srila Prabhupada. He was an initiate of Prabhupada, and his chief feeling of responsibility was to His Divine Grace. Sulocan tended the Deities, and was a shaved-up, chipper young man. He was a very good-looking fellow, well-built physically, and he was also a grihastha with two young children. However, he was caught in a conundrum that was becoming more and more common-place within the “ISKCON” confederation.
The female disciples of Prabhupada were almost all torn between following the orders of their resident mahabhagavat or the orders of the husband as pati-guru. Sulocan emphasized the latter alternative, but his wife did not buy into the proposal. Sometimes the female adherents in the various centers, when they were effective collectors (and most of them were), were provided husbands. This concession was a kind of propitiation given by the Temple President or resident “mahabhagavat,” a kind of payment up-front, for their continued dedication to bringing home the money (“laxmi”) from the pick. They often felt far more adulation and admiration for the flamboyant, powerful, and charismatic personality of the resident pretender. Most of the husbands were able to tolerate the arrangement in all humility, but Sulocan was in the minority when it came to sharing the allegiance of his wife with a “new guru.” He would not accept it.
The local guru would brook no compromise with him, and Sulocan’s wife was mostly dedicated not to her husband’s orders but to the orders of the resident Zonal Acharya. I know all of this, and I know a great many details more than this in relation to Sulocan, because I got to know him very well. He was a friend of mine. For a number of months in 1985, we traveled together in his van, where I edited many of his manuscripts. The INTERNET did not exist at that time, but Sulocan was at the leading edge of what would soon turn out to be a kind of communication proliferation but a few years later. He had scraped up enough funds to buy a new Commodore computer, monitor, and printer, and he eventually became a kind of fifth wheel. Especially he targeted the Moundsville Zonal in his exposes, because he felt profoundly cheated by this man, the first to mandate uttama-adhikari worship from his own godbrothers and godsisters.
Sulocan eventually tried to kidnap his own two children from the West Virginia compound, but, in his carelessness, he stopped off in Moundsville to pick up some food. He had been tailed, and, when he came out of the grocery store, his two children were now in the custody of henchmen. This infuriated Sulocan, of course, and the odyssey continued with added intensity.
Skipping over a considerable part of the story, Sulocan was murdered, as almost all of you know, by an intimate associate of the leadership at the New Vrindavan cult. He was murdered in 1986 about two miles from the Los Angeles temple. Ironically, from what one of his close associates at that time later told me, he had decided to suspend his campaign against “ISKCON,” the “GBC,” and the Zonal Acharya(s) just a few days previously. Although his original umbrage had been targeted at one pretender, Sulocan--who certainly had a streak of brilliance in him and was a prolific writer in his last years--came to the conclusion that the “GBC” was really the cause of everything horrific that had happened to him during his sojourn from Britain to Moundsville, and especially in the aftermath. He finally had figured it out, and he overcame his sentiments for the so-called Lilamrita also, seeing through the motivations behind its narrative.
Sulocan’s murder should have wound up in Los Angeles’ unsolved homicide division for decades, if not forever, but two devotee friends of his acted immediately upon hearing of it. The hitter was apprehended and convicted. Apparently, he was just a day away from high-tailing it overseas. You can get the details from John Hubner’s book, entitled Monkey On A Stick.
The esoteric fact is that the heinous murder, or you can even say assassination, of Sulocan prabhu, marked the end of a major phase in the Krishna Consciousness movement. Remember, there are two paths of Destiny: Providence and Fate. There is a perfect arrangement made in advance by the Lord to provide the matrices, formatting, and parameters for either one of these two paths to apply going forward. There will be some overlapping that will remain common to both of them, should free will be either used appropriately or misused; this principle applies to individuals as well as movements.
Sulocan’s murder marked the actual end of the Mars dasha for what was, and continued to be, a disintegrating movement. It also indicated the fag end of the First Transformation. There was only a short respite from the turmoil of the early Eighties to these events in the mid-Eighties, generated by the outrage and brilliance of Sulochan. Now, this witche’s brew of “re-initiation” and murder of a protestor was poised to explode into something new and different.
Second Transformation: The Collegial Reformation
The movement slowly began to meltdown in the mid-Eighties. Devotees throughout the world, particularly in America (and even more particularly in the Bay Area) were revolting, and the murder of Sulocan caused almost everyone to step back with a figurative or actual gasp, questioning just how anything that horrific could even happen. The Zonal Acharya pretender mahabhagavat initiative was running out of steam, being completely rejected by more and more devotees.
This was an ideal moment for the leaders to step back, to question the root of everything since 1978. But the Party Men were not at all willing to go that far. Whenever somebody would contend that the movement needed to return to Square One, the Party Men would individually emote, create a straw man scenario, and falsely claim that any such initiative entailed closing down all of the temples and discontinuing Deity worship; I had personal experience of this. But the older devotees who advocated a return to Square One were simply demanding that all of the concoctions and deviations be removed—root, stalk, and branch--from the movement founded by the Sampradaya Acharya, Srila Prabhupada. This meant recognizing what the recent history was, rectifying all that took place that should not have been allowed to even have gotten its foot in the door, and returning to the true devotional process, free from all contradictions and disobedience to the Acharya.
So, as the movement began an inexorable slide toward the abyss, the radical approach to resolving that disintegration was rejected by the Party Men; they had too much to lose by going that route. Instead, they chose the alternative of “reform,” when only radical steps and real revolution would do. You cannot reform something so corrupt as what “ISKCON” had become by this time through the exigency of superficial changes. However, “ISKCON” had its resourceful Party Men to rely upon, and one of them in the first echelon came through with flying colors.
This false hope was provided by Ravindra Svarupa, the Temple President of the Philadelphia center. He had joined the movement in 1971 and quickly had risen in the ranks. He was a professor-type, and his style was not tainted by any connection to the hippie culture. Instead, he represented the collegial way of doing things, which obviously predominates at universities throughout the world. The American style of collegiate organization, with all of its bureaucratic layers of power, commissions, subcommittees, regents, boards, and emphasis on votes and consensus, would be a change from the tyranny of all power invested in so-called infallible gurus, who proved themselves to be anything but collegial.
Ravindra Svarupa would achieve a guru appointment as but part of his reward for leading what he euphemistically called a revolution. He would later claim that, as leader of this reform, he was obliged to capture the gadi and lead the revolution. However, he was no revolutionary; he was nothing more than a bureaucratic reformer who solidified virtually all of the nescience of the Party Men, simply removing from the scheme its most egregious elements. Nevertheless, his Position Paper, which advocated the necessity of stopping what he called an “internecine war,” caught the imagination of virtually everyone.
It even caught the attention of the Zonal Acharyas. In 1987, TKG removed the vyasasans from all of his temples, indicating that he should only be shown the respect due a madhyama-adhikari. He gave up the pretense of being a God-realized mahabhagavat, and it was a shrewd move. The chief scribe of the cult almost immediately followed his lead.
Moundsville resisted this momentum, so uttama-adhikari worship of these “acharyas” was not completely repudiated. As an aside, one other of the original eleven is (astoundingly!) reputed, according to published reports on a well-established devotee website, to still be taking uttama-adhikari worship from his Bengali disciples. By 1987, many of the original eleven were gone, including the aforementioned three implicated in sexual trysts (one of the homosexual variety). The Party Men who were not gurus, as could have easily been predicted, transferred their allegiance to “the reform movement” of Ravindra Svarupa.
There was even a half-hearted attempt to judge each of the Zonals in terms of whether or not they could remain on the governing body, and one of them suffered some short-term embarrassment due to this frail and quickly-aborted initiative. When a rich and powerful European Zonal innervated this committee, it backed down. It figured he would take all of his influence, money, and devoted followers with him if he was bounced from the governing body. The whole basis of the reform, viz., to re-enliven the remaining devotees that everything was progressing nicely on a predestined glidepath upwards, would be severely jeopardized if this committee indirectly forced any big devotee out. Ironically, this European Zonal would leave “ISKCON” in a most inimical split about a decade later, anyway.
However, the new collegial spirit did usher in a distinct change from the previous way things went on. Also, it made the movement materially more powerful, because it now had one man who once again exemplified and represented its spirit on the gross plane, viz., Ravindra Svarupa. He was a professor-type. So, when it came to position papers and articles, no one could match him.
No one within the upper echelons of “ISKCON” would dare challenge him, not only because there was little reason to do so, but also because they would face virtually certain defeat in any kind of confrontation—which would be on his terms. The modus operandi of authority and its presentation changed with the Second Transformation. Now the speaker or author who was most proficient at backing up his points and suggestions with sophisticated and scholastic op cits, et als, ibids, and footnotes became the predominating brahmin. Now the “guru who was most proficient at obtaining consensus through party bloc persuasion would be accorded the supermost credit for overcoming the close brush with collapse to promote a new found spirit of compromise . . . er, “cooperation.” Cooperation became the big buzz word in this new transformation.
On the whole, the Zonals couldn’t pull off their high-profile scam anymore, and an “adjustment” was made, in the form of another transformation. It was all “Krishna’s plan.” The Zonals in good standing could keep their initiated disciples, as long as they dropped the mahabhagavat profile; most cooperated. The current of deviation still ran through this movement, despite the transformation.
As aforementioned, some did not cooperate. One of those had already been excommunicated in 1983, and this divorce was even announced by “ISKCON” in the American press. Separately, the “acharya” who had introduced the uttama-adhikari worship in November of 1977 also rejected the Second Transormation. The “GBC” confronted him, he technically got the best of the debate, but the die had already been cast. The European sahajiya had left to affiliate with Gaudiya Math some years back was found dismembered by one of his own disciples. That horrendous event, also in 1987, did not really shake up the hard-core Party Men, as it was seen as vindication of their institutional position about him.
With the introduction of the Second Transformation, everything was now supposedly honky-dorry in the Krishna Consciousness movement. But those devotees who had the intelligence and vision to see what was actually transpiring knew very well that the real situation was not at all rectified at the deeper levels. Superficially the situation was improved, but the Party Men had, once again, gotten over via this new, big change—which was also completely unauthorized in terms of the parampara. The Second Transformation does not accord with Vedic and Vaishnava tradition relating to the legitimate process and philosophy. Sahajiyas cannot be allowed to keep their so-called initiated disciples if they superficially clean up their act. Pretender mahabhagavats cannot retroactively be accorded the status of advanced devotees—and know it for a fact that any Vaishnava madhyama-adhikari is an advanced devotee—simply because they jack down the opulence of their worship and say that their godbrothers and godsisters are no longer obliged to also serve and love them as gurus.
If a grifter and pretender rich man is exposed as a complete fraud, he cannot simply cash in all of his ill-gotten gains, claiming falsely that, although he was never the billionaire he advertised himself to be, that he is still a rich man. If he engaged in fraud, he must lose everything. His must be jailed for criminal activities against both national and international laws governing capitalism. But the Party Men, through the agency of their collegiate reform, now claimed that the Way had just been a little misunderstood, had just been a little off-kilter. All was now supposedly set aright and back on track.
Roots of the Rittvik Deviation
“It is a fact, however, that
the great sinister movement is within our Society.”
In early 1970, one of Srila Prabhupada’s original disciples was deputed by him to go to India alone and try to resolve many shipping problems that had arisen there. These problems involved significant payments made for devotional paraphernalia to Indian persons or firms that were refusing to ship the goods, in effect stealing these monies from the movement. While in this foreign land, this devotee came into contact with Prabhupada’s godbrothers, and this contact was not at all helpful to his devotional creeper.
He became infected with the familiarity that Prabhupada’s godbrothers had in relation to His Divine Grace, and he became poisoned by the contempt these many godbrothers felt for Prabhupada. They heavily criticized him for using the term “Prabhupada,” which they considered was reserved for Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Prabhupada. They did not consider our Srila Prabhupada to be one of the advanced devotees initiated into the line by his Acharya. They did not consider that what A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami was doing in the West to be actually bona fide. Later, Prabhupada would indicate that they were envious of him.
Although this original American disciple of Srila Prabhupada was considered a big man in the movement—and both physically and officially he was a very big man—he was but a pup in relation to the mystic powers and influences of all these Indian godbrothers of Prabhupada. Compounding that fact, he was experiencing a very foreign culture for the first time, and, as every initiated disciple of Srila Prabhupada knows, you always undergo some kind of culture shock (mine was quite pronounced) when you first go to India.
This disciple returned from India and, along with three other devotees (one being his blood brother), almost immediately received the order of sannyasa from Prabhupada. These four charismatic devotees were all original disciples, all had opened early temples and brought people into the movement, and all were powerful and influential in their own right. The sannyasa experiment did not at all go well with the first disciple that Prabhupada bestowed it upon in the late Sixties, as he immediately deviated from him, causing tremendous turmoil (“He has given me a great shock”). Similarly this second wave of sannyasis—who were meant to complement the twelve governing commissioners just appointed to that board (and who, with the exception of one brahmacari, were all householders)—also deviated almost immediately after having received sannyasa.
Such is the checkered history of sannyasa power in the Krishna Consciousness movement of His Divine Grace, but you can’t pin any of the deviations on Srila Prabhupada. They aren’t on him; instead, they must all be attributed to the eternally present individual option to misuse free will on the part of his disciples. This aforementioned devotee who went alone to India was put to a big test there, and he flunked it. He came back to find that Prabhupada was now trying to solidify the management and preaching strata of his movement in a very organized way. This devotee was selected to be one of the traveling preachers as a sannyasi; he would no longer be in a strong managerial role. But what this new renunciate preached in the beginning was effected by the great sinister movement. The other three sannyasis came under his influence, and, in a previous section of this treatise, we briefly pointed to this episode.
But the details of how it transpired and how it played out are not nearly as important as the lasting effect the great sinister movement had once it got its foot in the door of Prabhupada’s Krishna Consciousness movement. It entered through the weakest point of Prabhupada’s movement; it entered through the leaders and managers.
Its nefarious influence was beaten back in 1970, but it gained a measure of comeuppance a mere eight years later via Navadvipa. Although the aforementioned first schism transpired in the early Eighties, apparently ending the connection with that Gaudiya Math mentality and all that accompanied it, there was a big parting kick still to come. And that brings us to a concise description of the rittvik deviation.
At this point you may be flabbergasted, asking: “What?! They were behind rittvik? The neo-Gaudiya Math is utterly contemptuous of rittvik! How can this possibly be so?” Spiritual life is both difficult to understand and, just as undoubtedly, it is very subtle. There is a very subtle cause and effect relationship to rittvik’s emergence from the ocean of nescience and the great sinister movement. The first rittvik movement did not manifest until 1989; that timing is interesting.
Because in the summer of 1988, Swami B. R. Sridhar died. He left a will. Swami B. R. Sridhar, in his will, referenced Srila Prabhupada, but he did so in a context that was both unexpected and unique. In effect, Swami B. R. Sridhar, in his will, now opined that Prabhupada had actually set up a rittvik system of initiation for his movement. Swami B. R. Sridhar, in his will, informed his followers that his chief disciple would carry on his line in the same way that “Swami Maharaj” had (allegedly) carried on his movement, i.e., rittvik.
In Polynesia, there was an interesting phenomena observed by some anthropologists over time. One monkey, on one of the many hundreds of small islands scattered there, had found a unique way of solving an existential problem. This solution had never existed in any of the monkey societies throughout all of their previous histories (which would have been for thousands of years). Then, some time after this, another monkey on a different island came up with the same solution. Then, on another island, a different monkey discovered, a little later, this material amelioration to an existential problem. In effect, although these monkeys had no form of communication between and amongst themselves, they all came up with this virtually identical solution to the difficulty, and it spread to all of the monkeys on every island in the region. It became part of their culture everywhere in Polynesia.
So, on some very subtle plane of communication, something helpful to their struggle for existence spread in a way that cannot be rationalized through any gross explanations. These monkeys did not take advantage of “monkey see, monkey do,” because they had no contact with one another. But one learned a method, another eventually learned that method, then another, then another, until critical mass was achieved. Then the knowledge exploded, and all the monkeys engaged themselves in this way as an intrinsic part of their coping with material existence.
Similarly, in 1989 in southern Mississipi, three influential brahmins proficient in writing, under the subconscious influence of the Navadvipa seed, came up with what was the original rittvik proposal. They did so with the input and assistance of a former personal servant of TKG. This personal servant claimed, through anecdotal evidence only, that Prabhupada had instructed TKG in a rittvik system for the continuation of his line after his disappearance.
But the real influence of this rittvik germ came from the will of Swami B. R. Sridhar. Remember the old sitcom My Three Sons? Well, the rittvik movement became his third son, warring with the older brothers of the family, viz., “ISKCON” and the Neo-Gaudiya Math. “ISKCON” is the elder son, as it took birth in 1978. Its two kid brothers share a connection to “ISKCON”: they are rooted in the same soil, even though they are opposed to it in many ways and on many planes. All three deviations are part of the same dynamic, but the Neo Gaudiyas and the rittviks are not Party Men.
The initial rittvik proposal of 1989 put a great emphasis on the “GBC” as being the vanguards for its implementation. Due to this, for all practical purposes, that proposal has now faded into oblivion. Indeed, two of the original three founders in Mississippi almost certainly no longer adhere to it--if they did, their writings on other devotional topics, currently included in the Bhaktivedanta Vedabase, would almost certainly not be allowed there. Your author was adamantly opposed to this rittvik proposal from the moment of my first hearing of it, and I produced a well-circulated Position Paper against it in early 1990.
But, unlike many other critics of this deviation, I shall readily admit that ultimately its acceptance or rejection is based upon some very subtle and potent truths regarding Vaishnava philosophy and process. There are any number of aggressive and degraded “devotees” who use rittvik for their own purposes, all of which are in the mode of ignorance. Their style, their character, their motives, their mood, and their “preaching” are all cent-per-cent rejected by the Vaishnava Foundation. However, there are also many rittviks who push it with sincerity (up to a point). Their character is quite good on the whole, and they actually have a motive to preach and spread the mission of Srila Prabhupada and Krishna Consciousness far and wide. They should all know that, although we are adamantly opposed to rittvik and consider it a heresy, we do not look down upon them. Instead, we agree with them that it all boils down to a very, very subtle point of philosophy and process in relation to the teachings of the Vaishnava parampara; that point centers around sraddha or faith.
We have revealed to you the actual subtle cause of the rittvik germ, how it was injected it into the group consciousness at the end of the Eighties. But we are under no compulsion to fully delineate and explain all the intricacies of initiation in terms of the rittvik proposals. If you join the Vaishnava Foundation and become a member in good standing, you may one day have access to this knowledge. This article is not created for the purpose of circumventing the yogic process of obtaining knowledge; good questions requiring deeply spiritual and complicated scientific answers must be accompanied by both respect and seva. What we shall do for you in this treatise, however, is expose each of the current or former rittvik proposals or movements and show the irreconcilable contradiction(s) that are present in each of them.
Remember, had the GBC remained bona fide, had it not so egregiously deviated in the spring of 1978, there would never have been an influential Neo-Gaudiya breakaway faction. Similarly, had the commission remained authorized—and, as such, had the movement remained thoroughly bona fide—there would have never been any influential rittvik cults. There would have been no reason for any of these factions to come into existence in the first place; even if they did, a pure GBC would have crushed them right from the gate. It would have relegated them as meaningless movements very quickly, and they would have been completely rejected by the devotees at large. They would have very soon merged into oblivion. But a bona fide GBC is something we have almost never had the benefit of, certainly not since the disappearance of the most recent Sampradaya Acharya, Srila Prabhupada.
By 1988, the Party Men were feeling better. Two major adversaries were no longer alive, the opportunity to become “guru” was expanding, two rebellious former Zonal Acharyas had been ostracized, and at least three other flagrant and flamboyant so-called Acharyas had been marginalized. Nothing but blue skies appeared to be in the cards. But scheduled reactions are stubborn things, and they seem to always find a way of entering into the mix.
After the period of belligerence, martial spirit, and aggressive preaching, the Mars dasha of the “ISKCON” movement changed; the Collegiate Reformation did not exactly coincide with this, but there was a relationship between the two. The Mars dasha ended, giving way to a period of mild engagement, mental speculation, and no small measure of lunacy. The advent of the INTERNET in the Nineties would both supplement and complement this development, as did the Collegiate Reform to a lesser extent. Superficially, devotee interaction was more measured, more respectful, and more liberal than the mood of intolerance and force that was present in the previous ethic (that culminated in an assassination).
Oh, but then rittvik had to come along and gum up the works!
The original rittviks appeared to be hopeful that the “GBC” would buy into their proposal, legitimizing all the previous initiations in terms of rittvik, and also legitimizing the performers of those initiations. Perhaps some of them were tempted to do so for pragmatic reasons, but the rittvik alternative did not fulfill all of the ambitions of those who had recently been vetted by the “GBC” and had been given guru. Rittvik’s main thread and lifeblood was very different from the mood and style those Party Men were now enjoying for the first time.
Rittvik was an impediment to what they now wanted to institute, and, just as importantly, it almost entirely consisted of “outsiders.” Most of these devotees had been adversarial to “ISKCON” and its Party Men over the years; they were no friends of the confederation, especially its managerial section. Old rivalries and hatreds die hard, and this is especially the case in the context of quasi or semi-spiritual societies. In 1990, the Party Men specifically rejected the rittvik proposition as put forward by the brahmins of Mississippi, by that time joined by some other former big men in the movement (previous to the Zonal Acharya era).
Now, the original rittvik proposal hinged its legitimacy on the acceptance of the “GBC” to make the appointments of rittviks, who would only then formally perform the initiation ceremony on behalf of the departed Acharya. As such, it was pretty much a doomed cult right from its outset. It was eventually replaced by two different rittvik alternatives. In the mid-Nineties, one was called the IRM, or ISKCON Reform Movement. This rittvik group was hardcore; indeed, it was soon dubbed “hard rittvik.” It promoted the concept that Srila Prabhupada, a departed Acharya, would remain the initiating guru of all new disciples who entered into his Krishna Consciousness movement for the remainder of the Golden Age--which, by some accounts, would be another 9,500 years!
Complementing this rittvik group were a loosely affiliated contingent who opined that rittvik would remain viable as the only means of initiation until the manifestation of the next mahabhagavat. Notice a trend here. The rittvik weltanschauung was, by its intrinsic nature, centrifugal. Since His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada never set up this system for after his disappearance, and since there are no shastras or traditions in terms of the Vaishnava faith that detail how it is to be carried out, it’s a time-place-circumstances fix-it-as-you-go movement. As such, it is very prone to have new variations pop up every few years or so--with some kind of word jugglery, convoluted logic, and intellectual rationalizations.
The IRM and the soft-rittvik devotees have never approved of one another, although they have some obvious loose affiliation in terms of their enmity with “ISKCON” and the Neo-Gaudiyas. They tried to make inroads into “ISKCON,” but there was no tangible success at all in such endeavors. As such, the IRM in particular lost its justification, but it is still the most powerful of all these groups. At its very root was the idea that “ISKCON” would eventually have to accept it, that the cult would be overwhelmed by the greatness of this rittvik cause and would re-institutionalize itself, reforming itself in terms of what Prabhupada allegedly wanted, viz., rittvik.
The soft-rittvik devotees are not as insane as the IRM, but they are nevertheless pushing a concocted process that is not bona fide in terms of parampara, Vaishnava tradition, shastra, and the statements of the most recent Sampradaya Acharya on the topic of continuance of his disciplic succession. They are also engaging counter to uncompromising logic concerning everything related to the stages of bhakti yoga, the bhakti-lata-bija, the spiritual master, the process of initiation, and the relation of a departed Acharya to uninitiated people who now read his books.
Still, as aforementioned, this all comes down to a very sanguine point in relation to sraddha or faith. It gets complicated at a certain point. But there is no proof whatsoever that Srila Prabhupada wanted a rittvik system installed after he left us. As far as that goes, there is hardly even any evidence for the rittvik argument. If the rittviks actually possessed strong evidence, the argument against that process would come down to very fine points indeed. But they have no such hard evidence, only a form of convoluted logic based on a phrase contained in a letter. Even the soft rittviks need more than that.
But rittvik, being a movement, philosophy, and process in the making, is always subject to being invigorated by a new wave of madness. In 2006, another variety of rittvik manifested, taking the name Prominent Link. The Prominent Link variety of rittvik—and, for the record, the founder of this group does not consider his philosophy or process to be actually a rittvik movement—contends that the devotees (“new gurus”) of “ISKCON,” who perform the initiation ceremonies for the new devotees, are bona fide gurus only in terms of their being officiating acharyas. Prominent Link contends that Srila Prabhupada is the actual initiating spiritual master and bestows the bhakti-lata-bija at the time the officiating acharya performs the ceremony. In other words, all the initiations in “ISKCON” have been bona fide, but they have not actually been rightly understood. This philosophy shares some of the same defects as the original rittvik proposal, because none of the gurus of “ISKCON” accepts it. How could such a divine arrangement work through an officiating acharya who does not believe that he is only an officiating acharya? Prominent Link was rebuffed and repudiated by the cult.
The next variety of rittvik consists mostly of some really hard-core, vitriolic former Party Men and older devotees. They propose a rittvik movement that creates a hybrid in relation to the rittvik-guru who performs the fire sacrifice at the time of the initiation ceremony. They say that he is both a guru and a rittvik at the same time. In some ways, they are similar to Prominent Link in their beliefs, but there are still some subtle differences. It is a different movement especially in terms of its style, which smacks of contempt and triumphalism. They opine that it’s just a matter of time before even the leaders of “ISKCON” see that their “new gurus” are really only a new kind of guru, a hybrid of an officiating acharya and a guru. Therefore, in the writings of this rittvik group, you will often find that those devotees who perform the initiation ceremony in “ISKCON” are called “gurus.”
In the year of our Lord 2008, the very same year that this treatise you are now reading was created, there has been but another variety of rittvik proposed. This one also employs the hybrid concept, but not in relation to the devotee who performs the initiation ceremony. Instead, the hybrid of the initiations worldwide is based upon the locale of the initiation. If that stuns you a bit, you are not alone. In this conception, there are now genuine Vaishnava Western-born gurus, and they can and do give genuine initiation to their disciples. However, the devotees who perform initiations within the temples established directly by His Divine Grace while he was here with us are not initiators; they are only rittvik-acharyas or officiating acharyas. In this hybrid scheme, rittvik and guru function in a mutually exclusive way; His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada is said to still be the initiating guru of anyone who receives initiation in one of the temples he established.
Again, like all of the rittvik proposals (and they won’t stop here), this one sounds good. But when you analyze it with some unbiased logic, why does the location of an initiation ceremony demarcate who the initiating guru actually is? Where was this verified by Srila Prabhupada? Where do we find this concept in shastra? What other genuine Vaishnava traditions are following this scheme?
All the rittvik concoctions completely lack a sound shastric basis; indeed, they really have none at all. But, due to the deviations of the Party Men over so many decades, almost nobody has faith anymore in the “ISKCON” process, philosophy, or initiation system. That is why rittvik, which is ultimately in the mode of ignorance, works like a rock to break the scissors of the “ISKCON” weltanschauung. Some rittviks even spoil the “ISKCON” Jagannatha Rath Cart parades each summer by making very noticeable propaganda against the cult during the festivities themselves. This has not gone unnoticed by the Western press.
But “ISKCON” simply will not accept any of the rittvik proposals, and there are some solid reasons for them not doing so. The Neo-Gaudiyas are utterly contemptuous of the rittviks; they act like paper to cover the rock of rittvik and keep it from becoming popular. The Neo-Gaudiyas, however, are small time in comparison to the “ISKCON” movement, which, although it is disintegrating, is still an organized, international religion with far more influence than the disparate Neo-Gaudiya Math acharyas. “ISKCON,” mostly due to its sheer size, acts as scissors to regularly cut off the momentum of the Neo-Gaudiyas, who just cannot gain traction because they cannot match the material results of “ISKCON.”
Rock-paper-scissors. “ISKCON” will never acquiesce to any rittvik proposal, despite the fact that both movements share something very important in common. No, we are not referring to Srila Prabhupada, here. We are referring to the fact that both “ISKCON” and the rittviks, when you boil it right down to the basics, have the exact same modus operandi. In other words, both of these movements (and here, for arguments sake, we are considering the rittviks one movement) operate on the basis of time, place, and circumstantial “adjustments.”
But the majority of those “adjustments” on the part of both operations are, in actuality, compromises that disregard sampradayic traditions, the orders of the Founder-Acharya, proper Vaishnava behavior, guru, sadhu, shastra, the commentaries of Srila Prabhupada (especially in terms of his directives), and various injunctions from His Divine Grace found throughout his preaching mission. Both of these movements are spontaneously capable of disregarding virtually anything if they can produce “results” by doing so.
In other words, they are compatible deviations at root—and only incompatible when it comes to mundane causes and grosser planes of activity. “ISKCON” would never take the risk of giving the Neo-Gaudiyas a big opportunity (which it would pounce on!) to condemn it and rise above it in prominence, and that’s just what it would give the Neo-Gaudiyas if it adopted rittvik.
Earlier in this treatise, we talked about silver linings. The automatic arrangement of checks and balances in terms of Maya, i.e., the fact that “ISKCON” checks the Neo-Gaudiyas effectively, they check the rittviks, and the rittviks keep “ISKCON” from becoming dominant, must be seen as the best silver lining of all.
The Guroo-by-Birthright Deception
kiba vipra, kiba nyasi, sudra kene naya
one is a brahmana, a sannyasi or a shudra—regardless of what he is—he can
become a spiritual master if he knows the science of Krsna.”
This verse from the Chaitanya-caritamrita is one of the most important verses in the Gaudiya Vaishnava sampradaya; no one would question this assertion. However, just as importantly, its misinterpretation or even neglect is conversely one of the most powerful aspects of deviation from the philosophy and process of the Absolute Truth, from the philosophy and process of Krishna Consciousness. You can accept good instruction from any devotee, whether he was born as a shudra or even a mleccha, but the instruction must be bona fide. Knowledge and its transmission transcends all class considerations.
In the Krishna Consciousness movement, we do not at all emphasize the varnasrama-dharma; we emphasize instead bhakti sadhana as our main engagement. When Srila Prabhupada awarded brahmincal initiation to his Western disciples, he did so on the basis of their advancement in knowledge and detachment, not on the basis of their birth, which was a huge disqualification. All devotees, having received the bhakti-lata-bija from His Divine Grace, are potentially capable of becoming guru, because knowledge of the science of Krishna is not on the material platform. It is on the platform of spirit, which remains forever transcendental to race, ethnic, national, or caste considerations.
But we are required to understand this divine science as it is, to be cognizant of all the intricacies of these Absolute teachings, in order to spread Krishna consciousness in the most potent and bona fide way. As long as a disciple in the line has received initiation through the genuine process from a real spiritual master, it does not matter what varna or asrama that guru occupies in order to make ends meet.
Srila Prabhupada said that he became spiritual master when his spiritual master ordered him to become guru. This principle applies to all of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples as well (“But by my order”). If and/or when a devotee becomes free from all anarthas and understands the science of Krishna, his spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada, may order him to become guru despite the fact that this devotee took birth initially as a sinful Westerner. Not only can he become a spiritual master at that point, but he must become one--otherwise he would be disobeying the orders of the shaktyavesh-avatar Sampradya Acharya (guror-avajna) and that would constitute an offense (Nama-aparadha) in chanting the Holy Name.
Even in the Hari-bhakti-vilasa it is enjoined that a newcomer to the line can accept diksha from a spiritual master who was not born in the brahminical order--if such a seeker is unable to find a fit person, a real guru, who was born in a brahmin family and is situated as an initiated, bona fide brahmin. In reality, however, this instruction is really meant for those Hindus who are overly absorbed in mundane considerations regarding ethnicity, nationality, birth, and the caste system. As Prabhupada said in this connection:
we have no caste distinction, because our process is to elevate the muchi to
the platform of suchi, this Krsna consciousness movement. Actually, that is the
fact. We are unnecessarily becoming tannery expert. That is not the aim of
life. The aim of life is to become suchi, to become brahmana or the person who
is aware of Brahman. Brahma janati iti brahmanah. This is the philosophy. But
nobody is interested to become a brahmana. Everyone is interested to remain a
muchi and tannery expert. That is not the aim of life.”
Prabhupada considered the Hindus to be the topmost tannery experts. The fact of the matter is that as long as a newcomer to the line of bhakti sincerely and seriously seeks out a spiritual master in terms of genuine knowledge received from Srila Prabhupada and his disciples, then such a guru can be accepted from any previous or current caste or order of life. Such a guru must be fully conversant with the sacred science. Such a spiritual master can be accepted as either a vartma-pradarshaka-guru, a siksha-guru, or a diksha-guru, because the actual qualification of the spiritual master is completely dependent upon his knowledge of the science of Krishna Consciousness. This is the injunction of Lord Chaitanya as presented in the initial quote of this section from Chaitanya-charitamrita. In the Padma Purana, that injunction of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is similarly confirmed:
na sudra bhagavad-bhaktas te ’pi bhagavatottamah
“One who is actually advanced in spiritual knowledge of Krishna is never a shudra, even though he may have been born in a shudra family. However, even if a vipra or brahmana is very expert in six brahminical activities and well versed in the Vedic hymns, he cannot become a spiritual master unless he is a Vaishnava.”
There are examples in the Vaishnava line where a person born as a brahmin accepted initiation from a devotee who was born in a family lower than that of a brahmin. In the West, all of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples were born even lower than shudras; they were all born in mleccha families. But even such a mleccha by birth can become purified, especially after having been awarded the sacred thread in a diksha initiation ceremony authorized, and often performed by, a bona fide spiritual master; for us, that spiritual master was Srila Prabhupada. A realized Vaishnava is in a spiritual position that is higher than that of a brahmin by birth.
Most unfortunately, deviation occurs on both sides of this issue, creating a binary that is very difficult to overcome. We have seen that eleven unfit people jumped the gun and imitated uttama-adhikari. These fellows were mlecchas for most of their previous lives, and that mleccha element resurfaced in a most horrible way, culminating in this dreadful imitation. Eleven of them did this, and that was eleven too many. But, on the other side of the coin, there is currently a Vaishnava brahmin, born in the Holy Dhama in India, who is preaching that, on the basis of his birth, only he is qualified to be recognized as a spiritual master. He promulgates the Hindu belief (not accepted by all Hindus, of course, but by many of them) that only a person with this kind of birth can ever become guru. That he is pushing this apasiddhanta clearly shows that he is not qualified to be a spiritual master, that he does not understand the science of Krishna Consciousness.
This kind of uber-tannery expert is called a “caste guru.” The behavior of this caste guru is a deviation from Prabhupada’s teachings, but it indicates the pendulum has swung, in one case, to the exact opposite side of the deviation of 1978. This caste guru considers his birth and family ties to be not only the foremost consideration, but the only consideration. Actually, there are no hereditary considerations applicable to determining who is and is not a bona fide spiritual master, and any Hindu or misguided Westerner who holds such a bias is preaching against the principles of the Vaishnava disciplic succession given to us by Srila Prabhupada, who, technically, was not born in a brahmin family.
The aforementioned caste guru projects the “pukka” profile, of course (as do all of the Party Men), but his sannyasa initiation is questionable, particularly in terms of how he rationalizes it. Also, in the Bhaktivedanta VedaBase, we find that, when you type in the term “guru,” there are 15,433 hits. When you type in the concocted and unauthorized term “guroo,” there are zero, none, nada, or no hits. But this man spells the well-known Sanskrit for spiritual master as “guroo” in order to further accentuate some kind of special distinction. The logic of his presentation is flawed in so many ways, including the shastric quotes he uses to back his ultimately untenable position.
He and his caste conscious philosophy must be completed rejected; any sentiment towards this way of thought must be completely eschewed. He says that, if you are a Westerner and you are blessed to become his disciple, your reward for a lifetime of dedication to his service cannot be going back to Godhead. Instead, your highest possible reward is to take another material birth, sojourn through another cycle of birth and death, in India as a brahmin—perhaps, if you are really lucky, in the Holy Dhama. There’s only one such initiated of disciple pushing this apasiddhanta at the current time, but that is one too many.
Then again, we find so many examples of false discrimination creating false demarcations of authority. As Srila Prabhupada pointed out:
a caste guru says that yei krsna-tattva-vetta sei guru haya means that
one who is not a brahmana may become a siksha-guru or a vartma-pradarshaka-guru
but not an initiator guru.”
There is even at least one prominent Western disciple of Srila Prabhupada, who is not a Party Man and who legitimately criticizes “ISKCON,” but who still pushes this misconception or a variety of it. None of these people are genuine gurus in any of the three divisions of guru, because none of them is preaching the sacred science of Krishna as it is and as you, as pure spirit soul, like it. They are preaching instead their own motivated interpretations and spoiling the whole thing.
We must accept all of Srila Prabhupada’s principles, which were previously enunciated by the Supreme Personality of Godhead Lord Chaitanya five hundred years ago, as they are, without malinterpretation. Only in this way can the Krishna Consciousness movement once again re-emerge in its full glory. Do not fall victim to the “pukka” caste guru and his false claim of special glory, for he deserves no admiration or adoration whatsoever. He is but another deviant who muddles up the picture in the minds of the less intelligent section of spiritual seekers.
“Rahu Planet We Have Connection”
“There are always two kinds
of men in this universe, not only on this planet but also in higher planetary
systems. All the kings dominating planets like the Sun and Moon also have enemies
As you all know, we are in the age of Kali, the iron age of quarrel and hypocrisy. According to Vedic astrological teachings, all material events in this universe come under the portfolio of seven chief grahas or planets, as well as two shadow planets known as upagrahas. Sometimes, Srila Prabhupada playfully called these planets “stars,” but, with the exception of the Moon, they are different from stars. Each of these planets has a personification, a powerful personality who controls the influence of the planet and, from a practical perspective, is non-different from the planet (inasmuch as, in conditional life and consciousness, we are almost non-different from our material body).
The personality of Kali is not one of these nine planets personified. Rahu, however, is one of them. In the Eighth Canto of the Bhagavat, it is detailed that, when the Supreme Personality of Godhead understood how Rahu was cheating the demigods, He immediately cut off the demon's head. Rahu, however, had already tasted the nectar that the Lord wanted to serve the demigods, and therefore, although his head was severed, he remained alive. He was thus, by the arrangement of the Lord, empowered to take over a major portfolio of demoniac activities in the universe. He became an upagraha.
All nine of these planets are universal powerhouses. Although Rahu is a shadowy, opaque planet with little gross density (unlike the seven chief planets which can regularly be seen by telescope--and, in the case of two of them, readily seen almost every day with the naked eye), it has tremendous influence on human affairs. Rahu is a demoniac planet; its influence on human affairs, both individually and collectively, is almost always in the mode of ignorance.
“It is sometimes said that
when one is influenced by evil stars like Saturn, Rahu or Ketu, he cannot make
advancement in any prospective activity.”
Ketu, as mentioned here, is the other upagraha or shadowy planet, and it is intimately related with Rahu. Both of these planets move in retrograde direction almost constantly, although once and awhile they remain stationary for a short time. Ketu is always exactly one hundred and eighty degrees opposite Rahu in the sidereal zodiac, and is similarly a demoniac planet. The post-modern Western astronomers and astrologers call these planets nodes, viz., the north node of the Moon (Rahu) and the south node of the Moon (Ketu). These astronomers, who have many profound misunderstandings about how the universe actually works--even in relation to the basics of planetary movements--consider these nodes to be mathematical points.
“ . . . below the Sun is the
planet known as Rahu, which moves like one of the stars (planets). The
presiding deity of that planet, who is the son of Simhika, is the most
abominable of all asuras. But although he is completely unfit to assume the
position of a demigod or planetary deity, he has achieved that position by the
grace of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.”
The eclipses are caused by Rahu or Ketu. Indeed, that is the only time that these planets can be seen with the naked eye. The Vedic wisdom accepts Rahu or Ketu as moving in front of the Sun or the Moon during an eclipse.
“Rahu is inimical toward both
the Sun and the Moon, and therefore he always tries to cover the sunshine and
moonshine on the dark-moon day and full-moon night.”
Rahu is actually closer to the Earth than either the Sun or the Moon, or any of the five other major planets for that matter. Rahu also has a bigger circumference than either the Sun or the Moon. In other words, in Kali Yuga, Rahu has both a strengthened and heightened influence on human beings, human events, and human movements. Because of Rahu’s close proximity to Earth, especially in this age, human beings are readily subjugated under its thralldom.
Area Nyasi: There are Siddhas and Caranas. They are also living
there. And above that, there is Rahu planet. That means 80,000 miles high.
Now, as to the nature of this powerhouse planet called as Rahu, we should understand what energies come under its portfolio. It is the planet of bluffing and cheating. Rahu is the planet that directs corruption of all kinds, particularly in relation to money. Rahu is the planet of lying and intoxication. It is also the planet that covers humans with material illusion; this makes them think and feel that the material nature is most attractive. As a consequence, Rahu also has in his astrological portfolio unrestricted engagement in sense gratification, leading to very great terror and suffering (which he delights in). A few humans have Rahu favorable in their sidereal charts; as aforementioned, it tends to work against humanity in the matter of attaining anything progressive. With rare exception, it particularly works against advancement in spiritual life.
As per its nature, it likes to work surreptitiously in occult or hidden ways, behind the scenes. Indeed, Ketu, its counterpart, is the planet of occult power and occult knowledge and ritual, and this kind of knowledge and power is often misused; in Kali Yuga, it is almost always misused. Rahu and Ketu cover the mind and the heart of the conditioned soul, inclining them to engage in nescience. The practically all-pervasive malefic influence of Rahu is most potent because so few human beings recognize that they are controlled by its energy. That’s the way the demigods want it, and that’s the way Rahu enjoys operating.
Rahu loves to cheat. This dreadful planet not only dominates many conditioned souls in this age, but it is also the hidden deity behind many corrupt movements. Rahu insidiously influences blockheads who think that they are advanced in spiritual life, but who, although they can be quite cogent individually, become something else in the group. Rahu makes arrangements for chaos and cheating in unauthorized or sahajiya movements. Being a planet of material power, he indeed empowers the leaders of such movements--as long as they continue to indirectly pledge allegiance to him and please him. When spiritual movements become corrupt, when they lose their connection to the Krishna planet or the spiritual powerhouse, they generally link up with the Rahu energy in order to compensate for the loss with material power.
Rahu not only takes control of pseudo-spiritual movements, in the Age of Kali (which is most compatible for him), he also empowers corrupt, mundane governments in their big bluffs or big cheating enterprises. He does not discriminate whether or not the enterprise is calling itself authorized by the government. It was Rahu who directly empowered the huge multi-billion dollar bluff of landing on the Moon. His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada on many different occasions—and I asked him a question directly about this on one of his mid-Seventies morning walks at Kailua Beach in Hawaii—verified in no uncertain terms that the American astronauts never actually went to the Moon:
“The failure of modern moon
excursionists may be due to the Rahu planet. In other words, those who are
supposed to be going to the Moon may actually be going to this invisible planet
Rahu. Actually, they are not going to the Moon but to the planet Rahu. And after
reaching this planet, they come back.”
“We suggest that the modern
expeditions attempting to reach the Moon are mistakenly going to Rahu.”
Prabhupada: They are not
going to the Moon planet. They are going to some other planet, Rahu planet.
Secretary: Rahu planet,
that's a hellish planet?
In this last excerpt, we see that His Divine Grace says that the astronauts “might have gone” to Rahu. This should be understood in context, as there are two possible explanations. When Srila Prabhupada says that they actually went to Rahu, he may be speaking figuratively. Since Rahu is the planet governing pretense, cheating, and bluffing, they most certainly were connected with Rahu when, with only partial success, they tried to get the public to accept the hoax (in order to keep their huge and unnecessary program both believed in and funded). Then again, they might have landed on the Rahu planet itself (it does have mass), because it is considerably closer to the Earth than the Moon, which is very, very far away. Either way, through either explanation, they went to Rahu.
Now we see that the so-called “ISKCON” movement is also a colossal hoax on the order of the lunar space missions. A pseudo spiritual movement, loaded with bluffers, cheaters, rascals, and fools, is engaged in taking advantage of thousands of ignorant and innocent quasi-devotees. These sentimentalists cannot actually recognize a bona fide spiritual movement from an imitation nor a genuine devotee from an imitation pretender mahabhagavat or so-called madhyam-adhikari.
Yet, the “GBC” of this corrupt movement, which controls it, must be getting its power to do all of this on such a massive scale from some universal powerhouse. Prabhupada, privately in his room at his Los Angeles headquarters, once told a uninitiated neophyte not to donate his newly-inherited fortune to the organization, informing him that, “My movement is very corrupt.” The real mahabhagavat is a siddha-purusa and jiva mukta; he sees perfectly what is really going on. This was evidenced in the following exchange:
Future Zonal Acharya (1):
Prabhupada said they'd gone to Rahu.
A Current Runs Through It
The strong current of the late Seventies deviation became a river that still runs through what “ISKCON” is today. This current, although it may well have started electrocuting the movement before Srila Prabhupada departed, devastated the central nervous system of the cult in the spring of 1978. Yet, despite the eleven mahabhagavats being clearly exposed, they were allowed to remain guru in many cases and keep their so-called initiated disciples. This bluffing and cheating was never actually confronted, and it has certainly not been eradicated from “ISKCON” since that time. All of today’s “ISKCON” gurus are cent-per-cent still connected to that original current of deviation, and none of them at all likes to be reminded of this. They severely penalized anyone who their great gurus in the beginning, and you won’t last long in the “ISKCON” movement if you remind them of it now.
In 1978, the “GBC” decided to initially employ vilification and ostracism as a kind of execution, post-dating (and neglecting) the remote possibility for any objective personnel analyses for the dissidents who said the whole thing was completely wrong. “We want authority,” as a West Coast Zonal would put it. In the room of one prominent European temple, the Zonal Acharya, immediately after he returned from the alleged appointment, drew a line on the floor. He ordered that all temple inmates who accepted him as mahabhagavat and Acharya go to one side and all others move to the other side of that line. Those who went to the other side were asked to leave the temple. The new dispensation was not meant for being explained to the devotees in the various temples throughout the world; instead, they were simply to be told that this is the way it now is.
In effect, most of Prabhupada’s disciples had their spiritual progress in devotional life impeded by the apocalypse of 1978; their only choice was which way they wanted to go down. Some capitulated (allowing themselves to stay in the temples) and worshipped men who did not at all deserve to be worshipped. By that choice, their path to enlightenment was completely bollixed up by offensive worship. On the other side of the coin, they were directly or indirectly forced to leave the temples because they did not believe in, or, in some cases, could not stomach, the new dispensation. Those who spoke out against the arrangement were heavily criticized within the cult. When they were tossed back out into the material world, it was a virtual spiritual death sentence for many of these devotees. In effect, most of them were hung on the rope of their latent sex desires, which would otherwise have been controlled in a bona fide ashram (and that is why Srila Prabhupada created the organizational structure he did).
The Party Men at the turn of the century were essentially not that much different from their earlier version two decades previously. By Y2K, the situation itself, however, had changed to a considerable degree. But their basic attitude had not changed. They still didn’t want to take a really close look at what they had done to the movement; they were not willing to walk back the cat. Regarding the devotees they had figuratively executed in the beginning years—the ones who, it turned out, were pretty much right in their initial criticisms of the “GBC”—those files were ancient history and conveniently considered arcane.
As long as the Party Men still controlled the temples, and as long as they all gave continuous lip service to the “ultimate managing authority” of the “GBC,” everything else could be ignored, like covered tracks at the beginning of winter. As long as they had an organized religion wherein there was still incoming revenue to keep them from having to work in the mundane world, and as long as they could showbottle well-dressed Deities, they remained complacent. As long as they could host colorful initiation ceremonies, as long as they had a publication house, as long as they could advertise a hierarchical structure and their unique brand of institutional dogma, then they were satisfied that they could survive the influence of all the protestors, many of whom were now getting a bit long in the tooth.
After all, history is decided by the winners, and they were still on the side that appeared to be winning.
As far as righting all the wrongs they had perpetrated was concerned, that was never allowed to even cross the minds of the Party Men. In order to right those wrongs, it would have to be done at a radical level--and that was out of the question! And as far as the devotees they had branded, well, those fellows must have gotten what they deserved, because not a blade of grass moves without the will of the Supreme. This was the attitude, and that remained unchanged from the time of the “eleven heartbeats” of pure devotional service.
The “GBC” and Guru Inflation
The turn of the century saw the Second Transformation still in full force, as the Guardian of Bureaucratic Corruption created buffer after buffer to act as an effective sentry, protecting its vested interests in the form of committees, subcommittees, seminars, showbottle appointments, and various position papers. This was exactly befitting the sophisticated campus politics everywhere present in their adaptation now functioning as a gold-plated collegial institution. This paradigm kept all the devotees engaged in many superficial concerns; they could not radically question what was at the root of problematic manifestations. Even devotees on the fringe were mostly swept up in the fervor of this apparent spirit of cooperation.
Nevertheless, those devotees who did not buy into the supposed glories of the collegiate reformation still knew very well what that root was: It was the deviation of the “GBC.” The Guardian of Bureaucratic Corruption, right from the gate, was completely entangled in the appointment of gurus. This entanglement ran against all Vaishnava principles and against the very nature of the parampara itself. No board of conditioned souls can determine who is guru and institutionalize its decisions in such an unauthorized capacity--not according to parampara.
The “GBC” did this in 1978, and, despite modifications that amount to nothing more than deceptive obfuscations, it is still cent-per-cent entangled in the same pernicious activity at this time. First it was out-and-out appointment by unanimous consensus, particularly by the “Acharya Board.” Then, that was modified to voting by members of the body; indeed, in the mid-Eighties, one of its “new gurus” captured the gadi by only one vote. Since he himself voted on that motion, in effect, he voted himself to the position of guru. But this nescient process soon began to reap a backlash.
So, another modification was adapted: “No three blackballs.” In effect, you could make a motion to the governing body as to your desire to become a recognized guru of “ISKCON.” As long as there were not three commissioners who were against you, then your motion passed. This process also received warranted criticism in due course of time. As such, another fix-it-as-you-go modification was concocted: The No-Objection Certificate, which is current to this day. As per this arrangement, the prospective institutional guru makes his proposal, the Guardian of Bureaucratic Corruption decides upon a waiting period for him (usually one or two years) and then, if he keeps his nose clean and remains loyal, it issues a No Objection Certification for but another new institutionalized guru.
However, please note that this whole process, throughout its whole devolution, is completely unauthorized. If Srila Prabhupada sees that one of his devotees has reached the right stage—and that can be as high or as basic as Prabhupada deems fit—and if he orders that devotee to become a spiritual master and initiate new devotees into the line, no governing body has any right to interfere with the transcendental process. If the “GBC” had remained bona fide—and, as we have repeatedly and clearly shown throughout this treatise, it has not—then it would still have the right to be, as Prabhupada so perfectly put it, “a watchdog.” And that would be the only right it would have in relation to people claiming to be gurus.
In other words, if the commission had remained legitimate, it would have retained both the authority and power to crush the influence of any congregational member who was acting as if he were guru, when clearly he was not up to the standard. Instead, the “GBC” did just the opposite: It institutionalized who could be guru and allowed so many rascals to act as so-called acharyas—that is, until their egregious behavior reached such an intolerable point that even the institution was jeopardized by letting them carry on.
As such, as far as “ISKCON” goes, the current situation can best be termed “guru inflation.” Since the late Seventies, there have been approximately one hundred “gurus” either appointed, or voted in, or not blackballed, or having been issued their no-objection certification. By rough count, at least forty of these have given up the gadi, either by choice or by force. This clearly shows that something is fundamentally wrong, but another devastator has been almost universally adopted in order to keep that reality masked. That devastator is: “Only two of the original eleven have not fallen down.”
First of all, mahabhagavats do not fall down. Oh sure, you can use the Bharata Maharaj pastime, or you can say that a mahabhagavat might stumble into Mayavadi literature and go for it, but all of that is completely superfluous and irrelevant. The reality is that mahabhagavats do not fall down. They do not fall down because they are experiencing bliss that is thousands and thousands of times superior to the happiness achieved by materially successful human beings. Mahabhagavats are not attracted by such low-grade forms of earthly happiness; they are not even slightly inclined to it. Neither do they take pleasure in vaishnavaparadha. The consciousness of the mahabhagavat is situated fully in the pastimes of the Supreme Lord in the spiritual world, and there is no possibility of his falling down from that state of ever-increasing, never-ending bliss. It simply does not happen.
The eleven pretender mahabhagavats were all completely fallen to the level of sahajiyas as soon as they became Zonal Acharyas (or before that). Their level of happiness was mundane, albeit different from all other conditioned souls. So, you cannot use this warped idea that two of them, as of 2008, have not yet fallen down. Those two are still sahajiyas, despite the fact that they have not engaged in, or have not been caught in, flagrant or egregious manifestations of deviant or sinful behavior.
Similarly, all of the “new gurus” who followed the Zonals were deviants; most of them have not been as egocentric and flamboyant, that’s all. None of those newer fellows were genuine gurus for even one moment. So, if the forty percent figure is used for those from that new guru constituency (guru inflation) who renounced the more recent pretense, that does not make that forty percent the only ones that are now fallen. The actual rate of falldown is one hundred percent for all of these so-called gurus. And the “GBC” cent-per-cent continues to be implicated in the whole deviation. Cheap gurus. Cheap disciples. This syndrome will continue, and the next stage will be guru hyperinflation.
Power of the Party Men
The “ISKCON” movement is nothing more than an organized religion. It is a kaitava-dharma as opposed to the mleccha-dharmas of the West. India is loaded with many kaitava-dharmas, and the “ISKCON” international movement is following in the footsteps of that grand tradition; it is not following any Vaishnava parampara or tradition. This “ISKCON” organized religion is composed of incorrigible Party Men, and their exact number is hard to determine, because new ones are being added all of the time. The Party Men at the topmost echelon are the real controllers of this organized religion, and they are not entirely mundane fellows.
Indeed, as far as astral powers are concerned, they are not ordinary men. They are like the brain police, and they control almost all the other devotees; powerful Party Men even have the ability to influence malcontents. One such upper echelon Party Man, who is very prominent in the movement, told me in the early Nineties that I had lost faith in the “GBC,” and my disillusionment with that authority structure figuratively constituted a cracked China bowl. In effect, you cannot put a cracked China bowl back together again. You can do it, but it will never look nearly as good as it originally was, it will never look the same. These are some of the techniques of the Party Men, who are masters at creating doubt and guilt, masters of deception, masters at bewilderment, masters at enticement, masters at pseudo-persuasion, and, when the situation calls for it, masters at harassment and various psychic punishments. They have their own spheres, both gross and subtle.
The various followers, who are weak in knowledge, mind control, and yogic development, can hardly escape the network of the Party Men once they become entangled in it. The Party Men buttress this astral network via the buildings, Deities, vehicles, properties, and money on the gross plane, and those innocent but foolish devotee followers are completely trapped by them and their manifestations. If such neophytes try to escape, ultimately they have to contend with danda from the Party Men. Take it from one who knows: You will not come out unscathed when the Party Men decide to punish you. But all the mud they have thrown on so many people is now starting to get tossed back their way, and that momentum will continue. There is a universal principle involved in that: Some call it the law of karma.
At this point, an objection might be raised. The reader might protest that this treatise is “too negative.” Is it so? Well, we first must know what constitutes “negativity.” New Agers used to say: “Do not be judgmental; no negativity.” However, if we analyze that motto, we see that it is itself composed of three negative components. The issue is not objective negativity; the issue is the application of negativity.
When a surgeon removes a cancerous tumor, the bloody operation involves quite a bit of negative action. However, if successful, that outcome is judged very positive. So the modus operandi takes a back seat to the outcome, as far as the final judgment is concerned, especially when the operation is a success (this, by the way, is a proper example of Prabhupada’s phalena-pariciyate statements). Remember the sloka that began our article: We are delineating the process of nescience for your spiritual well-being, and, ultimately, so that you “ . . . can transcend the influence of repeated birth and death and enjoy the full blessings of immortality.” The “GBC” is part of the process of nescience. The “ISKCON” it controls is, also. The process of recognizing gurus in “ISKCON” is integral to the power of the Party Men, who serve to keep everyone they can implicated in their nescience.
“Lilamrita” and the Book Changes
And that brings us to the very worst of the worst: The book changes. The so-called Lilamrita constitutes an unparalleled offense against the Sampradaya Acharya, but something tops even the Lilamrita as far as offense is concerned. This offense is also an on-running publishing reality, but it could possibly have legs far beyond the duration with which the Lilamrita is destined to bewilder people about the real glories of Srila Prabhupada.
The books have been changed. They have not merely been corrected; they have actually been changed. And this most heinous of all heinous actions constitutes the greatest devolutionary development in the aftermath of the disappearance of His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada, the transcendental author of those original powerful and pure publications.
Ostensibly, as the editing project was undertaken, there were many errors—particularly in the Macmillan version of the Bhagavad-gita—which needed correcting. We agree with this; Hayagriva, despite his academic accomplishments, was a rather careless editor, and the Macmillan gita was rushed into publication in 1972. However, after Prabhupada left us, one of the first echelon Party Men achieved “GBC” approval to re-edit all of the books. While correcting all that required correction, he has engaged in a massive editing campaign that has actually changed the wording of the original writings in hundreds if not thousands of places. Many of these changes were uncalled for, many more were simply choices that were not necessitated by the syntax or text itself. Over and above this, many of the changes jeopardized the original meaning or reversed it. The original authority of the books has been gutted in all of these publications. The spiritual and devotional devastation for new readers and new devotees that this has produced is immeasurable, and there is not a scintilla of exaggeration in making this statement.
This is all on the “GBC”; the Party Men who make up that body all share in the responsibility of allowing Srila Prabhupada’s books to be changed. They are the ones who continue to give the governing body’s imprimatur to the Lilamrita, including the printing of a slick, colorful brochure advertising its pretended glories. In the sordid history of the “ISKCON”, these nescient publications demarcate the lowest point and greatest offense. No committee as yet has been appointed to make a comprehensive study of all of these changes in order to reverse them.
If a comprehensive history of the “ISKCON” movement were ever compiled, it would require publishing a book much larger than the most recent edition of the complete Webster’s dictionary. In this article, we are targeting some of the sordid elements. We are not delving into the “ghostbusters” saga of one of the Zonals, neither are we exploring the engagement in black magic of a latter-day guru, who became quite a caricature, imitating Prabhupada in various ways including the use of a cane. One shudders to think of the prospects of all of these spiritual master imitators. But what faces those implicated in the book changes?
Prabhupada is Now on Trial
One of the Zonals, heavily implicated in the First Transformation, kept stretching the rubber band with more and more audacity right to the end. Citing him repeatedly, E. Burke Rochford, Jr. has written about the transformation that the movement has undergone. He is in the collegiate, scholarly mode, so it is quite possible that he approves of the Second Transformation to some extent.
He is still an objective author however, and, as such, we should give some consideration to the fact that he also believes that the movement has been transformed (changed) from what it actually was during the time of Srila Prabhupada’s manifest pastimes in the West. Indeed, Rochford has recently penned a book appropriately entitled Hare Krishna Transformed. In that book, one of his chapters is called “Prabhupada on Trial.”
When the aforementioned Zonal opined, in 2004, that his agenda was ultimately different from Prabhupada’s (although the purpose was ostensibly the same--to spread Krishna Consciousness to Westerners), he revealed the real face of “ISKCON.” In written form, he asked, “Can our agenda be pushed further?” In order to promulgate the preaching and mission of his movement to “its diasporic Indian congregations (read, to the Hindus)” a radical blurring of the divide that separates personalists from impersonalists should be implemented according to his view.
He similarly concocted that, although Prabhupada defined his mission in terms of the defeat of the Mayavadis (and almost all Hindus are under mayavada influence), this produced alienation, confusion, and offense in the abovementioned diaspora. In effect, this former Zonal, along with one of his buddies, authored a paper which advocated that a key pillar of Vaishnava preaching should be completely abandoned in the name of spreading the movement. This kind of “preaching” serves only to tear apart what little remains of the real mission.
He further backed the notion of the practitioner of bhakti-yoga being the “final arbiter” of what constitutes devotional service in time, place, and circumstance situations. In other words, his position paper makes the conditioned sadhaka the ultimate determiner of what is bona fide and what is not. It allows him to judge whether Srila Prabhupada was right or wrong on any decision, conclusion, or preaching strategy Prabhupada originally sought to implement.
It covertly puts Prabhupada on trial, as astutely pointed out by Rochford. This will invariably serve to break the parampara and reinvent a so-called tradition of Vaishnavism, especially as it applies to the Western version. It is in blatant opposition to all that His Divine Grace taught us. Instead of being a humble and submissive recipient, now the so-called sadhaka decides what is true, what is false, what is best, and what is the real intention—when, in point of fact, it is nothing more than his own flawed agenda, Maya.
When the doctor prescribes the medicine, the prescription, and the dosage, the patient is supposed to follow those directions as they are. But this new agenda of the Party Men allows every devotee—as long as he or she continues to pledge allegiance to the “GBC”--to substitute his or her own agenda or intention in place of the tradition. It allows all the so-called sadhakas to substitute their feelings as paramount to the dictates of what Prabhupada attempted to establish. And it is all rooted in a misapplication of Western pragmatism. In order to achieve ephemeral, secondary, institutional objectives—with, for good measure, the “time, place, and circumstance” bugaboo added to the mix—the movement is transformed.
To say that Western culture (Anglo-American culture) is now intrinsic to “ISKCON” is to make a gross understatement. The philosophies that gird Western culture have injected themselves very powerfully into “ISKCON,” and they should be seen just for what they are. On the whole, Westerners are inclined to empiricism, thinking that the “reality” of material particulars outweighs the promise of universal truths. “ISKCON” Westerners, in the same vein, tend to be utilitarians and both misunderstand and misuse the “utility is the principle” motto.
Utilitarians think that people are fundamentally good; they just need the right social environment and education in order to make them turn out to be of useful consequence. In Kali Yuga, however, this presumption is wrong. The spirit self is good, but the ahankara and sva-bhava of Westerners is almost always evil. Vaishnava prachar and achar does not measure the good of any action by its materially beneficial results to the most people; it does not consider that any course of action that is liable to produce sense-gratificatory results on a large scale (hence good results) constitutes good behavior or indicates fundamental personal goodness.
In “ISKCON,” these Western values are accentuated in a somewhat disguised form. The cult promotes an anti-intellectual tendency that is noticeably present throughout the rank-and-file of the movement, despite its current sophisticated pension for scholasticism, pretty much reserved for its leaders. Instead of mysticism, occult realization, and spiritual purity, material results are the be-all and end-all as far as the Party Men are concerned. Pragmatism necessitates that truth is made real only by empirical or apparent verification. If there is any idea (and there are not necessarily any universal truths that hold true in all circumstances), that idea is made true if events show that it has become demonstrated as a working reality. The Party Men are spontaneously skeptical of any teaching, knowledge or wisdom—even if it is received through Prabhupada’s books and the parampara—if that teaching does not accord with the pragmatic results they desire.
So, by this perspective, God is on the side of the biggest results., i.e., the Machiavellian dictum of “Judge by the results” becomes the measure of truth. And results can be made bigger in empirical so-called reality if the ethic of pragmatism is combined effectively with “time, place, and circumstance” compromises. Such “adjustments” sometimes help non-devotees to join in and give “laxmi” to the movement. This Western pragmatic approach does not combine well with genuine Krishna Consciousness, however.
As a bogus theory of what constitutes Absolute Truth, pragmatism is empirical. It underlies all post-modern moral systems in the West, especially in its politics and sociology. It rejects all theistic notions of transcendence and innate universals or absolute ideas, but this is just what Krishna Consciousness is intrinsically composed of according to parampara. Western pragmatism powerfully permeates and pollutes the attitude of the Party Men, affording them the opportunity to coalesce when threatened by opposing views.
Parampara means the divine tradition. The devotees who believe in the parampara, who believe in its teachings, who believe in its injunctions, who believe in its principles, laws, and universals, can rightly be called conservative traditionalists. The post-modern devotees of “ISKCON” who consider pragmatic schemes to always trump the restrictions of tradition (parampara), and who are quick to employ “time, place, and circumstance” opportunities or “adjustments,” can euphemistically be called devotional pragmatists. Time, place, and circumstance rationalizations underpin both the “ISKCON” and rittvik deviations. Western culture is currently influencing these organized movements.
Although “ISKCON” has now undergone two transformations, forced to do so in order to overcome external controversies and scandals or fulfill strong desires, all of this has been blown off by the Party Men as but part of scheduled growing pains. They attribute the difficulties to nothing more than personal ambition, individual pride, and immaturity in carrying out the orders of the spiritual master. Not so.
All of these upheavals and deviations are the result of a deeper strata of contamination; at the very core, Western attitudes permeate individual conditioning within almost all of Prabhupada’s disciples. These matrices were already powerfully present in the leaders of “ISKCON” well before they actuated all this post-modern hell. There are bogus philosophies underlying all of the deviations they have introduced, and these automatically clash with the guru-parampara. At the very heart of everything that has been done is the fact that none of these men who doled out initiation was qualified to do so, and the newcomers to Krishna Consciousness need to courageously face this, to come to grips with it.
There are still some traditionalists (not many) in “ISKCON,” and, although these men have some loyalty to the institution, they are not Party Men. Neither are they sentimentalists tinged with blind faith in “ISKCON.” As such, even in the cult, there are two conflicting currents. One relies continually on pragmatism, judge-by-the-material-results, might makes right, and time-place-circumstance warpings to suit any new “preaching” agenda. The other bases its conclusions on a literal approach to what Prabhupada said and wrote. One sees continuous innovation as the key to spreading the movement far and wide; they conveniently see the phrase “time, place, and circumstances” as utilitarian, and they are prone to misuse the “utility is the principle” shibboleth. The traditionalists, on the other hand, say “time, place, and circumstance” can only be a temporary adjustment that fits very restricted circumstances and short-term situations; it has no application whatsoever in the larger issues and the teachings themselves.
This same dichotomy is found outside of “ISKCON,” also. It is particularly found amongst the rittviks, whose whole movement (make that movements) is founded upon the principle that allegedly Prabhupada created a completely new parampara and was the founder of a whole new tradition. As such, to the rittviks in general, even if they take the conservative approach regarding particulars, Prabhupada is really not the representative of an unbroken tradition. The rittviks like to think that they are following a higher shastric principle, and, as such, the traditional parampara need not be consulted. Any tradition or statement of previous Acharyas that goes against the rittvik concoction is considered irrelevant. The devotees who are actually traditionalists, who have adhered to the parampara, dispute this.
In this spiritual war, where His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada has in effect been put on trial after his departure, the fundamental values of his contribution to humanity have been severely strained and are in danger of being lost. Identifying with “ISKCON” means, at the core level, to self-identify with a mission that is more and more opposed to him. This is also the case when it comes to the rittviks and the Neo-Gaudiyas. We, as initiated disciples of the shaktyavesh-avatar, of the Sampradaya Acharya, must reaffirm our core commitment to him and to his teachings, and only to him and his teachings. We must not be swayed by the sentimentalists. We must fight the good fight and not fall victim to unauthorized pragmatic considerations that offer only short-term material results.
If you actually have this attitude, confrontation with the deviations is unavoidable.
Look for These Third Transformation Indicators
When the movement was bona fide many decades ago, the centripetal energy was all-powerful. You could always know the straight line of what was pleasing to Srila Prabhupada and what was not sanctioned by him. The boundaries of innovation were not difficult to understand. The “unity in diversity” motto was not perverted, and Absolute Truth was the underlying factor in all thought and action. Pleasing Prabhupada in terms of following the Absolute Truth was the guideline and the goal was always spiritual realization.
But, after so much deviation, after two transformations, unauthorized ways, means, and goals have been introduced into “ISKCON”; they have become integral to the very fabric of that movement. It is a mistake to think that you can find a straight line in that Society anymore, because everywhere you turn in it simply demonstrates how crooked it has all become. Now, devotees who pledge allegiance to the governing body can easily find an elastic boundary to suit their fancy, to fit in with the movement. The goal is no longer to create a completely separate alternative to Western culture; the goal is to become attractive to and compatible with Western culture. None of this represents the original intent of Srila Prabhupada.
Every now and then, however, some Truth resurfaces. Then there is generally an immediate backlash from lower echelons within the “ISKCON” movement. These sentimentalists, many of whom are also fanatics, will come forward with a new and vigorous “unity” propaganda, all centering around the misconception that cooperation with “GBC” is the platform of unity.
It is at the center of “ISKCON,” granted, but it is not at the center of genuine Krishna Consciousness. Love of “ISKCON” is not at all conducive for the development of love of Godhead, but the sentimentalists radiate a fervor opposed to that. Just as there was a Battle of the Bulge after the Allies invaded Europe, similarly, false personality defends itself—and “ISKCON” is loaded with many false personalities throughout its structure at every level. When Truth starts to surface, it’s always the lower echelons that respond first with fervent propaganda for unity and cooperation.
Nevertheless, none of it amounts to anything more than ratspit in the matter of extricating “ISKCON” from all of its on-going deviations, corruptions, and vested interests. This is because “ISKCON” is run like a business, replete with salaried Temple Presidents and all forms of cronyism. These lower echelon upsurges fade away in due course of time (remember the Centennial?), leaving the inexorable momentum of what’s really going down unaffected.
But paradigms do change in this movement; we saw that in the mid-Eighties. When the members and patrons become too disturbed by propaganda from both within and without, then, if the disturbance is great enough, that will mark a time for a change.
Will this article you are now reading initiate a crackback that invigorates the “ISKCON” movement? Possibly. But any such temporary invigoration toward cooperation and unity can never last, because the underlying current or program of that movement is sunk in deviation. “ISKCON” reactionaries will never be able to enjoy the wonderful prospects that run through their minds, because the movement they love is, in actuality, rotten to the core. It wasn’t originally, of course, but that original version cannot be rejuvenated without a revolutionary or radical attitude. The sentimentalists have neither awareness of what really happened, nor knowledge, nor the required attitude. Do not be bewildered by short-term upsurges.
However, if things get corrupt enough, a new paradigm or transformation may surface. If a new paradigm or Third Transformation helps its members forget the movement’s actual history of continuous deviation, it will serve the purpose of the Party Men. This concluding section of the treatise explores some likely scenarios and trends that may well play out if and/or when “ISKCON” adapts again, changes its paradigm, and attempts another way to overcome its endemic problems.
Do you know why “ISKCON” is run like a business? This question is not at all difficult to answer: It is run like a business, because it is a business. But it is a tricky business, because it must trick everyone into believing that it is not one. That means it must not be seen as an ever-adapting business program but, instead, as a movement that has always stuck to one paradigm. You do not need to be a prophet in order to spot some trendlines for what may well turn out to be an upcoming Third Transformation. But you do need to be intelligent enough not to be tricked by superficial veils that will be temporarily thrown up; these are all misdirections, counterintelligence operations. The sentimentalists assist that illusion, and each Party Man (they are all sly fellows) will take full advantage of them in order to further his personal aggrandizement.
Some of the tendencies present in the First Transformation carried over completely into the Second Transformation; some of them only carried over through the transition period. We are not yet into the next transition period, but we may well be approaching it. The following list can help you to spot it:
1. Continued Corruption, Humanism, and Secularization
After the murder of Sulochan, and after three more pretender mahabhagavats were all exposed in sexual scandals (one of them being of the homosexual variety), the Zonal Acharya pretense could no longer be maintained. The destiny of the “ISKCON” movement then moved in another material direction. The Temple Presidents were prepared to bolt if the mahabhagavat makeshow continued--and the fringe devotees, various patrons, and all of the dissidents were also making powerful propaganda against it. The Zonal Acharya Epoch was over.
The Mars dasha was replaced by an epoch ruled by the benefic Moon. The Temple Presidents advocated a guru reform movement during this time; it was meant to expand the number of gurus. Of course, many of these Presidents, including the prominent President who penned the chief position paper, captured the gadi for themselves via this reform movement. The main scribe amongst the now debunked Zonals even created but another inane manuscript, entitled Guru Reform Notebook.
This lunar epoch did not exactly coincide with the Second Transformation, although there is an obvious synchronicity between the two of them. The Moon dasha marked a softer approach, with an explosion of communication in the form of the INTERNET. Devotees took advantage of this amenity, and, indeed, the whole world wide web has been upheld because Lord Krishna has willed it for the sake of his devotees. Belligerence and force now were no longer accepted as the main factors for determining what was true and what was not.
This lunar period lasted for a time commensurate with the previous astrological epoch, but it eventually gave way to the period we are now in: A very malefic Saturn dasha. The Publication of the abovementioned main scribe’s book, entitled Sanitorium, marked the beginning of this period of corruption and secularization; we have not yet reached its nadir. This period is marked by compromise and corruption. It is further marked by an emphasis on mundane and political objectives, lending itself to creeping secularization. The Western secular culture is far more powerful and pervasive than is the “ISKCON” culture, and the trend of the movement to blend itself into the Western culture, to develop a more secularly progressive and humanistic ethos, will become more and more apparent as this period unfolds.
Watch for this trendline to devolve further, and note if, in its development, it no longer remains harmonious with the pulse of the Second Transformation. Indeed, if and/or when it reaches its nadir, that will mark the cusp of a Third Transformation. If and/or when the corruption in “ISKCON” reaches such a point, there will be another call for reform. In that event, there will be another rebellion--just as the murder of Sulochan was too much for the devotees to overlook and tolerate.
2. Lip Service to “GBC” Without Accountability
There is no “ISKCON” movement without at least verbal dedication and allegiance to the “GBC.” This is the sine quo non of that movement. However, the “GBC” usually only meets once per year. It tends to avoid directly taking on the hot-botton issues. It consigns controversies, particularly personal disillusionments and complaints, to the jurisdiction of various committees and subcommittees; this is the collegial model, as well as the Western socialistic mode.
“GBC” supposedly overturned the high-flying guru profile over two decades ago, but that style still persists. In other words, one or more charismatic “gurus” still maintain a program whereby they are the be-all and end-all of all their disciples and followers, and the “GBC” does nothing to curtail how they are worshipped, even if they are worshipped as mahabhagavats. There is strong anecdotal evidence, that, to this day, one of the original eleven Zonal Acharyas, although he is no longer called or considered a Zonal Acharya, takes mahabhagavat worship from his Bengali disciples. There are also reports that others take similar adoration as well. This is supposed to be against long-standing “GBC” doctrine.
But toeing the line in accordance with uncountable and mostly forgotten “GBC” resolutions generally is not required, because there is really no enforcement mechanism outside extreme steps, such as removal of guru status, ostracism, and excommunication. There are hardly any intermediate enforcement mechanisms, if there are any at all. And there are hardly any devotees in that movement, if there are any at all, who are willing to serve in such an enforcement capacity. Knowing this, “GBC” resolutions, if they impinge or impede upon what a local guru or Temple President considers a results-oriented “preaching” program, can be easily discarded.
There has really been very little accountability in “ISKCON,” and this trend will only exacerbate as time goes on. The devotees who function within that movement’s structure have found a formula that works for them: Get results, justify whatever you do or say in terms of your “results,” and, if any situation requires it, pledge allegiance to the “GBC” as the ultimate managerial authority. The “GBC” will not bother you, unless you engage in something overtly disloyal or scandalous.
3. The Further Hinduization of “ISKCON”
Most of the devotees who are reading this treatise have been to India. Of those who have been there, most have experienced its culture more than once. If you have ever traveled throughout the villages, towns, and districts of India, you know exactly what Hinduism really is. Hinduism can be defined in many ways, but one of the most accurate or relevant ways is in terms of India itself. In India, there’s a different guru, or a different kind of temple, or a different cult or sect, or a different philosophy, or a different Deity or set of Deities practically in every different village, town, or area. Within the cities, this endlessly mutable principle is evident as you travel from district to district or from one main street to another. India is the land of practically unlimited diversity, tremendous disparity, and so many dichotomies that they could never be comprehensively cataloged. This centrifugal principle—very opposed to the centripetal principle always present in genuine Krishna consciousness—is also becoming more and more dominant in the “ISKCON” movement.
Prabhupada accurately termed this the “hindu hodgepodge,” and “ISKCON,” which already is becoming evermore dependent upon rich Hindu patrons (not in all its Western temples, but in many of them), is slowly but surely starting to become a kind of Hindu movement, also. Sometimes, its leaders even overtly state that it is already a Hindu movement. When I was active in the movement while it was still bona fide, the Hindus had no influence whatsoever. Sometimes a family or two would come to the Sunday feast and drop a five dollar bill in the dana box after paying their respects to the Deities. But most Sundays, or any other days of the week, there were no Indian nationals or imports visiting the temple premises—despite the fact that there was a very large Hindu contingency living in that metropolitan area.
The reason for this was not unfriendliness toward the Hindus by the devotees; the reason was the basic incompatibility of genuine Krishna consciousness with Hinduism. This distinction has blurred considerably in recent decades, and that trendline will continue throughout the duration of this Second Transformation. If there is a Third Transformation, the inexorable Hinduism of “ISKCON” will also bleed over into it.
But the Hindus may eventually start to migrate away from the “ISKCON” temples in favor of the quasi-Vaishnava import (which is becoming more and more prominent in the West), or in favor of the Western Hindu temples popping up everywhere, especially in America. The only way to prevent such a reversal would be for the “ISKCON” leaders to acquiesce to more and more compromises with the Hindu taste, style, and generic philosophy. But they can really only go down that road for a limited time before many contradictions would become starkly apparent. Then it would be a challenge for them, because, at that point, it will have become a classic lose/lose situation. Showbottling well-dressed Deities only goes so far.
Nevertheless, the Hindu hodgepodge had far less influence in the movement—and “ISKCON” was far less dependent upon it—at the commencement of the Second Transformation. Hinduism is now breaking down some of the underlying or subtle structure of the collegiate/cooperation model. This augurs further devolution during the Saturn dasha, the period of corruption we are now in.
4. Guru Hyperinflation/Splintering of Authority
The “ISKCON” movement has never developed an internal national or international economy structure, despite the fact that it is run like a business—with Temple Presidents and other leaders now drawing fantastic salaries. The idea of leaders drawing salaries would have been a complete anathema during the Seventies, but this now fits in well with the cult’s current strategies for maintaining the unauthorized brand of control it favors. With little or no employment opportunities present in the movement, devotees who want to remain inmates must, more or less, be completely surrendered to the powerful, salaried leader who runs the local operation.
This is a key part of the capitulation that “ISKCON” is making to secular Western culture. The cult is subordinating its orthodox teachings and the orders of Prabhupada, creating some confusion in its congregation but not enough to trigger a full-blown crisis. Through this gradual and insidious capitulation, the strategy is to create an international movement, with a Hindu-cum-Vaishnava flavor, that makes it more or less non-different from the Western mainstream. This, of course, is for the purpose of enticing the Westerners to join it (“preaching”).
A key element in this strategy is to keep increasing the number of “ISKCON” gurus and allowing them to employ whatever “ways and means” they can concoct in order to expand the congregation, secure more money, and continue to maintain the local strongholds over the temple inmates. In this transformed setup, the best devotees (besides the leaders and “gurus,” of course) are the ones living outside the temple, working hard in the vikarmi world, and giving big contributions. Recognition from the privileged Party Men is important to these “karma yogis,” and the best way to have enough recognition doled out is to expand the number of diksa gurus (a strategy directly opposite the one employed during the First Transformation).
Watering down the movement in general allows unqualified leaders to not be recognized for what they actually are, because they are more easily seen as great men in terms of their organizational skills and material results (power to control others). There will be some conflict with the dwindling number of traditionalists (who manage to hang on within the structure of the thing), but the eventual hyperinflation of guru—granted only to Party Men—will minimize and then extinguish the influence of those who are traditional concerning parampara or shastric interpretation.
The only way to avoid eventual loss of authority in “ISKCON” is to continue to splinter it, and the current inflation of fiat gurus will accomplish that outcome better when they are allowed to hyperinflate. The parampara will be abandoned in reality, but no one will notice and no one will care. There will be chronic unrest within the dwindling membership that still believes the cult is spiritually progressive. If guru inflation (and eventual hyperinflation) combines with splintering authority to make the corruption too apparent, then a Third Transformation will be employed to divert attention from this reality.
5. Rejection of Collegial Cooperation Model
There are a growing number of devotees, mostly but not only “outside the walls,” who believe that the Krishna Consciousness movement, as Srila Prabhupada actually presented it, is not what “ISKCON” has now become. These devotees mostly abhor the institutional collegiate-cum-corporate business model. There is a strong possibility, if not a probability, that the collegiate/cooperation matrix will be gradually replaced. The new model will also continue to de-emphasize book distribution, de-emphasize populating the temples, and de-emphasize chanting parties. But the collegiate model could be jettisoned, when it is considered just not worth it anymore: Too time-consuming, tedious, and incompatible with the attractive sahajiya lifestyle that will come to be demanded in due course of time.
The new wave will remain ostensibly loyal to “ISKCON,” of course, because that must remain the coin of the realm. But the “GBC” will find that the lip-service allegiance it then receives no longer includes position papers and clamoring to be participants in its bureaucracies and committees. The organized part of its organized religion may no longer rate high with the next “preaching” corps.
The current emphasis on spiritual advancement being recognized in terms of university degrees and post-doctorate diplomas will be rejected, because the payoff for all the work involved in that will be able to be attained another way, with much less effort. A kind of free-wheeling individualism will be the likely model after the current old-guard has mostly died off. The next wave of sahajiyas, who never even came into contact with Srila Prabhupada, will be required to submit less-complicated application forms for guru in order to receive the “no-objection” certificate.
After all, the Party Men will need to expand their ranks in order to maintain that tradition. And the only way to expand will be through the medium of a quasi-spiritualized Generation X, which isn’t going to be very attached to the Collegiate/Cooperation Model of today’s Second Transformation. So, if the corruption level reaches a blatant and intolerable point (for many of us, of course, this boundary has already been breached), then a Third Transformation will let freedom ring, replacing the embodiment of the Second Transformation with somebody new.
One thing we can no for sure about him: He’ll give a great seminar!
6. The Proliferation of Post-Modern Psychology
The seminar and workshop format will increase, however, if there is indeed a Third Transformation. Then, we are going to see that “preaching” becomes almost synonymous with a weird variety of pop culture, humanism, and post-modern psychology. There will be some mention of Lord Krishna and the standard philosophy in these seminar presentations—which will often involved paid presentations or retreats with many Western amenities included—but, on the whole, innovation will be the major theme running through these presentations. The well-dressed, “pukka” individuals who them will not at all neglect to keep their “GBC” loyalty or membership card current and active, and most of them will be a wild-card and institutionalized guru combined.
Western culture will be the clear winner when it reaches this stage, and the ideologies these devotees present will be of the misra-bhakta variety, at best. “ISKCON” is currently not yet in cultural alignment with its host culture, but that inevitability (although meat-eating and intoxication will continue to be shunned) is indicated by the trendlines. Vedic and Vaishnava psychology is very different from, and in opposition to, Western mental speculation on the topic of psychology. But the emphasis on post-modern psychology, which will become increasingly present in the growing devotee seminar and workshop formats, must always be based on increasing the popularity of the mission. That popularity will be sought through presentations that are very pleasing to the eyes and ears of pseudo-seekers who are actually fully absorbed in and attached to the great Western adventure.
7. Breaches with Dissidents Widen Exponentially
The divide that now separates the inner circle or power elite of “ISKCON” from the dissidents is already huge, but it will become a chasm as the Third Transformation approaches. As one devotee put it a number of years ago: “We live on different planets.” That may not be self-evident to everyone now, but it will be after this Second Transformation peters out and another unauthorized “adjustment” begins to surface in order to replace it.
Look for devotees “outside the walls” of the cult to increasingly form their own ashrams, corporations, preaching parties, and outreach programs to the bewildered Westerners. Due to the increase of genuine and factual propaganda from these dissidents, both Americans and Europeans will come to know, albeit in a general way, that the “ISKCON” line does not necessarily represent the Absolute Truth or even the philosophy and process originally given by Srila Prabhupada.
Currently, a sizeable number of dissidents opposed to “ISKCON” are affiliated either with the rittviks or the Neo-Gaudiyas; this will mostly not remain the case in the long-term future. Those unauthorized movements will also be exposed by the growing dissident movements, and the ultimate justification of at least some of these dissident groups will propel their efforts successfully forward.
In the process, of course, “ISKCON” will never recognize them or help them whatsoever, because all of these groups reject the “GBC.” Unless “ISKCON” is eventually able to, somehow or other, capture political power, the tide will turn against it at a certain point. That point has not yet been reached, but we can be assured that we are approaching it.
8. Emphasis on Material Activities/Results
The original movement was practical, but its emphasis was on transcendental activities and realization, not on worldly activities. That has changed. Food distribution is already taking precedence over book distribution in some areas, because the material governmental and non-governmental organizations recognize something like free food distribution as genuine, philanthropic activity. In their minds, that equates with religious activity, and “ISKCON” craves this kind of recognition.
However, what is actually happening here, just below the superficial plane, is an accommodation program with the material world. Obviously, during this Second Transformation, the emphasis on education reflects a clear connection to material name and fame in the form of university degrees. At best, virtually all of this is nothing more than pious activity. It will only increase. “ISKCON” is still the Big Kahuna, much greater than the rittviks and Neo-Gaudiyas combined, so it still has the inside track in terms of obtaining quantified results, which it claims are completely spiritualized. In point of fact, however, emphasizing these kinds of activities and results identifies it more closely with its host culture.
In the spring of 1983, in New York City, I made an extra effort to contact one of Srila Prabhupada’s very first disciples. I had to jump some hoops, but I finally found out where he was working. He, like myself, did not at all approve of how the movement was currently being managed or what it had been turned into just five years earlier. I found this devotee working in the foyer of a bank as a security officer. We could have a few minutes together without jeopardizing his employment.
He spoke to me about his prediction—now coming true, of course—that the deviations of that time would pale in comparison to the sahajiyism that would manifest when the newcomers eventually took over. We spoke together about the outrageous shenanigans of some of the Zonal Acharyas, although I do not think that even this devotee thought that it would get as bad as it soon would get. We spoke about pseudo-devotional activities and how they will produce karmic or vikarmic results in due course of time. We spoke about how too much absorption in false ego is not listed as a divine quality in the Sixteenth Chapter of the Bhagavad-gita—but, instead, registers on the other side of the balance sheet. Like myself, he did not think that any of this that was going down due to good motivations, errors, or growing pains. He agreed with me that the poison of personal ambition was behind it.
But perhaps he took it to an even deeper level than I did at that time, although I was the first devotee ostracized from the movement (and even called a black snake in resolutions passed by the “GBC”). Speaking in terms of the audacity of the pretender mahabhagavats, and specifically about the profit, adoration, and distinction that they were receiving back then, he rhetorically asked:
“Don’t they believe there is a God?”
OM TAT SAT. HARE KRISHNA.
Quotes from the books of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada are copyright by the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust