A Continuing Carnival of Corruption

by Kailäsa Candra däsa

Second of a Two-part Series

September 2017

“That is the rule of this age of Kali or quarrel. The atmosphere is already polluted with corruption of all description, and everyone knows it well.”
Çrémad-Bhägavatam, 1.5.11, purport

“I wanted you, all my experienced disciples, should manage the whole institution very cleverly without any personal ambition like ordinary materialistic men.”
Letter to Karändhar, 10-8-74

“The test of our actual dedication and sincerity to serve the spiritual master will be in this mutual cooperative spirit to push on this movement and not make factions and deviate.”
Letter to Babhru, 12-9-73

What kind of “ISKCON” world do we now experience? It seems like some kind of magic show at a carnival, where shadows and illusions dance before our eyes. By the mid-Seventies, corruption had gained a foothold in Çréla Prabhupäda's movement, and it became fully institutionalized when the eleven pretender mahäbhägavats were rubber-stamped. After that, gradually and (somewhat) imperceptibly, the movement degenerated. Once it deviated in a major way (in the spring of 1978), it became a faction through imperfect interpretation of the Äcärya's orders. After that, it manifested a false personality in order to attract and victimize sentimental newcomers lacking knowledge.

However, it was a split personality. T.K.G. and Kértanänanda were very different in virtually every respect—in race, religious upbringing, emphasis, style, demeanor, attitude, and, most importantly, in terms of their ultimate plan--and the other nine pretender mahäbhägavats were psychologically indoctrinated by, and subconsciously subordinated to, one of them,1 despite whatever independence those nine zonals otherwise exhibited.

That Doubt Must be Resolved”

Leading Secretary: He (Descartes) accepts doubt as the only real fact. . . I can doubt that everything perceived exists, because it may all be a dream, but the fact that I am doubting cannot be doubted.
Prabhupada: So, what is his conclusion? Should one stop doubting or continue doubting? If I doubt everything, I may come to the Truth and then doubt the Truth. . . Doubt in the beginning, then the Truth as the conclusion, but, in any case, that doubt must be resolved.”
Dialectical Spiritualism, Critique of Descartes

The institutional gurus of “ISKCON” became adepts at manipulating doubt, employing various techniques to have followers (of those who opposed and oppose them) doubt the character of the person who is preaching facts and Truth against them. They utilize this black art by running those who are exposing them through the grease. As a consequence, the historical accuracy, the facts, and the Truth being elucidated is sequentially doubted. This can easily transpire, because doubt is difficult to overcome for unreliable, sentimental people who have not developed solid knowledge, viz., for those who have not paid the price.

They accept and then reject the reality of what has gone down over the past forty years, even after it is delivered to them in a clear and cogent manner. Institutional gurus remain confident that, for the overwhelming majority of neophytes in spiritual life, doubt will overcome them at a certain point, even when they finally contact the historical record as it is. The bogus Vaiñëava gurus harbor this confidence, because they have much experience seeing it play out. When the moment of personal crisis comes, almost all inexperienced followers are prone to crack and seek shelter in the institution as the only dependable refuge.

This technique is also utilized by Rittvik and Neo-Mutt, but they usually direct the doubting soul to seek shelter in something other than an institution. As such, their different utilization of doubt is prone to be less effective, especially since the “ISKCON” béja, often present in people who approach them, is something else that needs to be overcome.

The Titanic Taproots (II)

“Kértanänanda has very recently developed the fourth stage malady on account of his negligence and disobedience to his spiritual master. Sometimes, a foolish patient, when he is out of feverish attack by the grace of the physician, thinks that he is cured and does not take precaution against relapse. Kértanänanda's position is like that. Because he helped the society in starting the Montreal center, I thought he is now able to start other branches, and when he asked me to give him sannyäsa, I agreed, taking the opportunity of his presence in Våndävana. Simply by his sannyäsa dress, he thought himself as cured of all material diseases and all mistakes, but, under the influence of mäyä, he thought himself a liberated patient, just as the foolish patient thinks himself cured from the disease. Under the spell of mäyä, he deliberately disobeyed me by not going to London, and consequently his disease has relapsed. Now in New York (City), he has began to dictate nonsense in my name—such as giving up robes, flags, etc. Instead of opening new centers, he has began to deliver his nonsense sermons amongst his godbrothers, which are all against our principles.”
Letter to Pradyumna, 10-17-67

We last left a rebuffed Kértanänanda in the East Coast but soon to depart for Ohio. However, Kértanänanda did secure one victory, as he was able to pull a godbrother out of ISKCON New York, i.e., Hayagréva joined his homosexual lover. Leaving Prabhupäda's movement, they both relocated to the Buckeye State, where Hayagréva (Howard Wheeler) was a professor at Ohio State University in Columbus.

Kértanänanda and Hayagréva then went to the mountains of nearby West Virginia in order to create a forest äçrama. The land was purchased in Hayagréva's name. Gradually, a mere eight months after Prabhupäda stated (above) that Kértanänanda was under the spell of mäyä and dictating nonsense, he and Hayagréva tried to get back into Prabhupäda's favor. They did it their way, of course. As evidenced by the excerpt (below), His Divine Grace informed them that he was less than enthusiastic about the West Virginia venture:

“ . . . if the people are backwards and suspicious, then how your scheme will be successful in that part of the country? This movement is meant for intelligent class of men, those who have reason and logic to understand things in a civilized way, and who are open-hearted to receive things as they are. . . if the place is infested with such suspicious men and backward class, then how you can develop a New Vrindaban there? The circumstances as you have described them is not very favorable. Therefore, I think the attempt will not be very successful.”
Letter to Kértanänanda, 6-30-68

Kértanänanda did not take to the real Våndävana in India. He considered it dirty, and the climate was not to his liking, either. So he, along with his homosexual buddy, created their own “Våndävana” in the upper region of the Smoky Mountains--a cold, damp, generally overcast region. Eventually, Prabhupäda accepted the effort to some extent, although he never fully did so. The property was not put into the name of the Society until the very end, being kept, instead, in Wheeler's name.

Prabhupäda was skeptical that the attempt would be successful (as directly stated, above), and that skepticism turned out to be valid; at best, “New Våndävana” was only partially successful, and that for a limited time. Kértanänanda generally resided there, and he was a shrewd guy. In controlling his fellow man, he stuck to basic principles. Kértanänanda knew the essential importance of having beautiful Rädhä-Kåñëa Deities, and he early on made sure that was arranged. Certainly, Their installation is beyond criticism, but how Kértanänanda manipulated it for self-serving advantage is another side of the story.

As the years rolled by, Prabhupäda visited a few times. Those were good times, but the idea that such visits, or an occasional favorable letter to Kértanänanda, eradicated Prabhupäda's initial skepticism of the venture is wrong. Kértanänanda was an active homosexual for decades, both before and after Prabhupäda departed physical manifestation.2 That he stuck with Prabhupäda's basic message in his preaching should not be misinterpreted to mean that he was a pure devotee or that he created advanced devotees there.

Sure, there were brähmins and Deity servants at the Moundsville compound, and Kértanänanda favored some of them. However, a general state of ignorance at the place can be indirectly evidenced in the Vyäs Püjä homage books (published once per year), wherein only Kértanänanda and one or two leading devotees were listed; everyone else was included under a catch phrase “and the inmates of New Våndävana.”

One inmate (the assassinated Sulochan däs), who became disgruntled and left in an inimical fashion, commented: “Has anyone ever seen Kértanänanda offer obeisances to a godbrother?” Quite possibly, no one ever did, because Kértanänanda, as the “first sannyäsé of the movement,” considered himself very special and superior to everyone else in the movement. And then there was this controversial letter:

“Kértanänanda Swämé may be taken as sadhu not spiritual master, or as instructor guru 3. . . You have written that the devotees here say that you cannot know me, but only Kértanänanda . . . can know me. But, if Kértanänanda is a disciple and he can know me, and you are also a disciple, why you cannot know me?
Letter to Paramänanda and Satyabhäma, 7-20-74

The recipients of this letter were husband and wife initiates in Prabhupäda's movement from the Sixties. In deciding to domicile at the Moundsville compound, they developed, in due course of time, a mentality like most everyone else there, viz., those under Kértanänanda's command were inclined to be skeptical about the idea that they had a separate relationship with Prabhupäda. In this way, throughout the early Seventies (and approaching the fateful year of 1977), Kértanänanda controlled virtually everyone in his rural fiefdom. That region's low-life, backwards, and suspicious atmosphere (graphically and accurately depicted at a southern adjunct of the Smoky Mountains in the early-Seventies motion picture “Deliverance”) influenced the whole operation, as its history has clearly shown.

Prabhupäda: What is the use of producing some rascal guru?
T.K.G.: Well, I have studied myself and all of your disciples, and it's clear fact that we are all conditioned souls, so we cannot be guru. . .
Prabhupäda: Hmmm. Yes.
Room Conversation in Bombay, 4-22-77

In late 1976 and early 1977, with Prabhupäda ailing, the G.B.C. instituted a policy wherein each commissioner would serve as personal secretary to His Divine Grace for one month, followed by another commissioner--that was, until T.K.G. took his turn. When that came around, he made sure, via his patented method, that he stayed on as personal secretary, doing so until the very end. He had a plan, and he wanted to remain close and in control of the situation surrounding His Divine Grace in order to actuate it.

It was becoming obvious to the commissioners that Prabhupäda's departure was imminent, and, as such, they all knew that he had better be asked at least two important questions, particularly about how initiations would take place after he left the scene. It was decided that The Commish would convene in Våndävana in late May, 1977. T.K.G., along with Satsvarüpa, were selected to ask the two big questions. On Saturday, May 28th, with four planets in sidereal Aries and during the tenth tithi of the waxing Moon, the so-called “appointment tape” was recorded in Prabhupäda's quarters of the Kåñëa-Balaräm mandér.

The tenth tithi is a fruition tithi, meaning that actions previously generated come to fruition during that lunar phase. Such was the case, but the brief Q&A session was entirely botched, in no small measure due to an egotistical interruption by T.K.G. at a key point during it. Along with that interruption, this man of the black temple birthmark also verbalized an apa-siddhänta, although that he did so remains, to this day, not readily discernible:

Satsvarüpa: So, they may also be considered your disciples?
Prabhupäda: Yes, they are disciples. Why consider? Who?
T.K.G.: No, he's asking that these rittvik-äcäryas, they're officiating, giving dékñä, they're. . . the people who they give dékñä to, whose disciple are they?
Prabhupäda: They're his disciple.
T.K.G.: They're his disciple.
Room Conversation with the G.B.C., 5-28-77

Just previous to this part of the conversation, Satsvarüpa has established, through Prabhupäda's confirmation, that the rittvik system of initiation was again going to be re-established for the benefit of the backlog of uninitiated devotees. Unnecessarily and foolishly, however, Satsvarüpa went on to mix up rittvik with the initiating guru (which a rittvik is not). This was probably not intentional on his part, but we shall never know. Clearly, a rittvik acts only on behalf of the actual initiating guru--in that case, Çréla Prabhupäda. The person who gives the initiation is guru; the person who conducts the fire sacrifice (as a rittvik-äcärya) is not the initiating guru.

Yet, this well-known Vedic and Vaiñëava principle was mixed up by Satsvarüpa and then similarly botched by T.K.G., who did nothing to disentangle the screw-up; instead, he mucked up everything even further! As we move to mid-conversation (in the excerpt, above), Satsvarüpa is trying to work his way through a problem of his own creation. He asks a presumptive question, one in which he wrongly believes he already knows the answer. That question itself is an absurdity. He inquires whether or not new people to be initiated (wrongly conceived to be initiated by the rittvik-äcärya) are also Prabhupäda's disciples. In point of fact, they will all only be Prabhupäda's disciples.

Prabhupäda recognizes that the question is nonsense. So, he first quickly confirms that the new people who are initiated, via a ceremony performed by rittviks, are his disciples. Then, in effect, he asks Satsvarüpa: Why should you even consider this? It is obvious they are my disciples. He follows that up with, in effect, another question, viz., who is being referred to here by this question you are asking? The whole thing appears as if a simple clarification was about to take place, was meant to take place, but fate had other plans!

T.K.G. is its instrument, and he then butts in, allegedly to make Satsvarüpa's question more clearly understood by Prabhupäda. This is but another evidence of T.K.G.'s hubris and absorption in his own self-importance. Worse than that, he not only makes a false assertion (that rittviks are giving dékñä, when they do no such thing), but he compounds the absurdity by re-wording Satsvarüpa's question—which should never have even been asked in the first place, as it was loaded with mäyä—again foolishly inquiring who the disciples were of the rittvik-äcärya who is giving dékñä!

The rittvik never gives dékñä!

As such, Prabhupäda answers T.K.G.'s biased question by simply stating, in effect, that the person who gives dékñä does so for a devotee who receives dékñä from him, and that devotee then becomes the dékñä-guru's initiated disciple.

Another way of saying the same thing is that Prabhupäda gave up on these müòhas at that very moment. One of them asks a foolish question, and the other one spouts an apa-siddhänta and butts in (after Prabhupäda was about to clear up the mess), muddling the waters to such an extent that few now are able to figure out what was being instructed. Prabhupäda could readily see where they were at, so he gave them enough rope by which to hang themselves. The eleven rittviks did just that ten months later--and they were all there listening to that exchange that fateful day.

The whole disaster was precipitated by T.K.G.. He was the one most responsible for botching the two questions about initiations in the future (after May, 1977), particularly how they would be conducted after Prabhupäda departed physical manifestation. We needed these answers much, much more clearly then we got them, but T.K.G. didn't stop there!

Six weeks later, a letter announcing the appointment of eleven rittviks emerged. This had been indicated in the May room conversation, wherein Prabhupäda was asked about initiations at the present time (while he was still with us) and the backlog of devotees waiting to be initiated from previous months. He said that he would recommend some officiating äcäryas. This letter, typed up and snail mailed to all governing body commissioners and ISKCON temple presidents, constituted that recommendation.

That letter had nothing to do with recognizing or appointing dékñä-gurus, successor gurus, or a Successor Äcärya. This fact was clearly stated within the text of the letter:

“The newly initiated devotees are disciples of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedänta Swämi Prabhupäda, the above eleven senior devotees acting as His representative.”

However, as almost everyone knows, this letter was not dictated by Prabhupäda; it was drawn up, typed up, and commented upon (within its own text) by T.K.G.. Obviously, Prabhupäda selected those eleven men (and T.K.G. was bothered about one of them being so selected), but, as far as the letter itself went, it was T.K.G.'s creation. T.K.G. signed it where authors of letters sign them. At the bottom, the letter read “Approved.” Prabhupäda put his signature underneath that word.

As could only be expected, T.K.G. made unnecessary “explanations” in the letter, so let us herein present the most egregious example of but one of those:

“Recently, when all of the G.B.C. members were with His Divine Grace in Våndävana, Çréla Prabhupäda indicated that soon He would appoint some of His senior disciples to act as "ritvik”--representative of the äcärya for the purpose of performing initiations, both first initiation and second initiation.”4
Letter (from T.K.G.) to All G.B.C. and Temple Presidents, 7-9-77

This excerpt seems to be accurate, but not everyone remembers (or even knows) that, during the May, 1977 room conversation, there were clear and specific indications of not just one but two upcoming selections by His Divine Grace. Just about a minute after the most important subsection concluded (culminating in, “When I order, 'You become guru,' he becomes regular guru. That's all. He becomes disciple of my disciple. That's it.”), we find this:

“ . . .one who understands his guru's order, the same paramparä, he can become guru, and, therefore, I shall select some of you.”
Statement by Prabhupada in Room Conversation with the G.B.C., May, 1977

So, Prabhupäda said he would recommend (or appoint or select) some rittviks in the future, and he did so in July, 1977. Yet, Prabhupäda also said that he would select “some of you” to become guru, i.e., to become initiating spiritual masters after his departure. However, he never did! There is no record of it.

He also said, many months earlier, that he would provide translations of Padma Puräëa, Mahäbhärata, and Vedänta Sütra. He never did so. He was always free to change his mind about anything that he indicated he would do in the future. He was always free to leave the physical plane whenever he wanted, especially if he was being poisoned.

However, T.K.G. knew it well that he could parlay the appointment of eleven rittviks (and, of course, he was one of them) into becoming non-different from the appointment of full-blown dékñä-gurus “performing initiations.” He could only risk doing this after Prabhupäda departed. That departure was imminent, strongly indicated by the emaciated state of Prabhupäda's physical body, lack of energy, and inability to eat. If Prabhupäda did not actually select anyone as guru—and he didn't--then those eleven rittvik appointments could be made to suffice as an indirect selection of initiating äcäryas. That is exactly how the melodrama played out, and almost everyone fell for it.

As just mentioned (above), the intended clarification about “initiations in the future” was seriously muddled. How convenient that turned out to be! Since Prabhupäda only appointed (selected) rittviks in 1977, and the muddle was most propitious for T.K.G. himself. It began with the nonsense question: “So, they may also be considered your disciples?” Then, it confused rittviks with those who are “giving dékñä.”5 The ultimate payoff was the July 9, 1977 letter drawn up by T.K.G. and misused by all eleven of the imposters in early 1978.

Over and above this, the mäyä gave them another boon. When Swämé B. R. Çrédhar, having been informed that the basis for the “new gurus” was Prabhupäda's appointment of them (previously as rittviks), he summarized the situation as follows:

Rittvik-äcärya, then it becomes as good as äcärya.”

The inclusion of the preposition (“then”) is simply a shortened version of “then, when the Äcärya departs.” Everybody back in the day who read the transcript of that meeting understood the meaning behind his cryptic utterance. That the transcript is no longer available in the archives (or was never made available to it), is, in itself, more than a bit ominous. Nevertheless, your author remembers holding that transcript in his hands, reading it, and having that eight-word shibboleth irrevocably embedded in his brain.



1The other zonals of Jewish descent (five other than T.K.G.) gravitated towards T.K.G.'s attitude, demeanor, and style, while the non-Jewish Americans (supposed gurus) gravitated mostly toward Kértanänanda. Satsvarüpa was the exception, as he kept good relations with both camps.

2This was obviously known to very few at the New Vrindavan compound.

3 A controversial letter, because it is subject to entirely opposed interpretations. Ascertaining the right one depends upon accurate understanding of both the syntax and intention being conveyed in a number of key areas. The principle discussed here applies to many of Prabhupäda's letters. The wrong interpretation of this particular letter had ramifications (although, those are not influential any longer), as the excerpt seems to have established Kértanänanda, at that time, as çikñä-guru. This was primarily because the insertion of the comma in this sentence appears to indicate just such a misinterpretation. Actually, your author considered simply culling that comma out, but it has been left in, because it can be used to now assist realization about a key principle concerning all of the Äcärya's letters, and, specifically, the proper understanding of this particular excerpt.

Let us directly take up the most important question: If Prabhupäda considered Kértanänanda to be çikñä-guru, why didn't he simply come straight out and say that? Why rely on a mere comma, awkwardly placed? He spoke his letters into a dictaphone, and then the personal secretary typed them up by listening to the tape. He could have incontrovertibly stated that Kértanänanda was a çikñä-guru (instructor guru) but not a dékñä-guru, the latter being a fully-equipped spiritual master. Why instead, if that was his intention, did he rely upon cryptically communicating the so-called çikñä status via a comma?

Actually, a çikñä-guru is already qualified to be a dékñä-guru; all he needs is the order from his own guru-mahäräj in order to act in that capacity. Do you think that Prabhupäda stated, into the dictaphone to his personal secretary, that a comma was to be inserted there in that sentence? The odds of such a directive having taking place are slim to none, i.e., it was almost certainly inserted by the personal secretary according to his own decision while typing the letter. It should not have been inserted, because Kértanänanda was not a siksa-guru; that has been proven now beyond a shadow of a doubt.

However, those who still believe that Prabhupäda wanted it known, covertly and indirectly, that Kértanänanda was then recognized by him (Prabhupäda) as a çikñä-guru, will counter that Prabhupäda signed the hard-copy letter with that comma in place. Such a forced interpretation is rooted in bewilderment about Çréla Prabhupäda and his priorities. It ignores important facts, one of which is that Çréla Prabhupäda rarely (if ever) took the time to correct spelling or punctuation mistakes in the letters he signed. He was heavily engaged in so many ways, both obvious and otherwise. Proof-reading dictated letters was not an engagement he would invest his valuable time in, and the proof of that is contained in many other letters (all signed by him) that contained real whoppers in terms of spelling errors, faulty syntax, and/or bad punctuation.

A whole article could be devoted to this topic—a very long article—and there were at least two spelling errors (in two other letters, especially and particularly) that could have created a completely wrong conclusion (about what His Divine Grace was communicating) if they were (and are not) read rightly. In other words, those misspelled words (in those letters) did not connote the meaning of his intention, which would have been otherwise very obvious if those words had been spelled correctly. Prabhupäda simply skimmed the letters presented to him and then signed them.

The sentence being discussed here, the one cited in this excerpt from the 1974 letter, should not have had that comma inserted in it. If that comma had not been inserted where it was, then it would have been crystal clear that Prabhupäda was saying that Kértanänanda was a sadhu of some kind, but he was not a spiritual master, either as initiator or instructor. That was certainly the correct conclusion, and it remains so.

4 This is from the letter appointing eleven ISKCON rittviks in the summer of 1977. It can be considered pivotal for a number of reasons. First of all, it has been egregiously misused over the years, always through bad logic, by both the “ISKCON” and Rittvik factions, in order to allegedly establish the so-called authority behind their unauthorized paradigms. Secondly, unlike virtually every other letter issued from Prabhupäda's quarters, it was not dictated by Çréla Prabhupäda himself; instead, T.K.G. created it, typed it, and simply had Prabhupäda insert his signature at the bottom left margin of it, indicating “approved.” Indeed, the letter itself was from T.K.G. himself and was prominently signed by him as such.

More importantly, the letter includes two ominous insertions; ironically, both of them are found in this particular excerpt. The first one indicates how T.K.G. was already manipulating the rittvik appointment to (what he believed would be) his advantage. The second one is the capitalization of two pronouns referring to Çréla Prabhupäda. Please note, Prabhupäda was not, and is not, God. Such capitalization of pronouns is reserved for Visnu-tattva, not for jiva-tattva. Throughout the purports of his books, Prabhupäda did not capitalize any pronouns referring to either his guru-mahäräj or anyone else in the guru-paramparä--except for Lord Caitanya, an incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

5 This confusion was pushed heavily to advantage by many (if not all) of the eleven pretender mahäbhägavats in the late Seventies, i.e., temple devotees were strongly encouraged to believe that the letter appointing rittviks actually appointed the “new gurus.” Remember, it was T.K.G. who made that wrong assertion during the exchange between and amongst himself, Satsvarüpa, and His Divine Grace Çréla Prabhupäda.

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