Stop Deceiving Us
by Bhakta Joseph Crowl
“O learned one, in this iron age of Kali men have but short lives. They are quarrelsome, lazy, misguided, unlucky and, above all, always disturbed.”
When a serious and sincere seeker of genuine spiritual life emerges from the fog of mundane existence and starts the long road to spiritual enlightenment, he is often overwhelmed by a tidal wave of bogus systems and leaders. Once all obvious institutional religiosity is overcome, he reaches a more subtle and much more dangerous form of covert institutional religiosity. It appears genuine, it has most of the hallmarks of being genuine, but alas, the trap has been set, and you are fooled by Mäyä and her agents.
Of course, as seekers of the Absolute Truth and aspiring servants of Çré Kåñëa, we have the brilliant example of a genuine guru and a genuine system to follow, viz., His Divine Grace Çréla Prabhupäda and his method of Kåñëa Consciousness. So, when you come to the conclusion that Kåñëa Consciousness is where it’s at, you have taken a big step in your spiritual life. Nevertheless, you have to look very carefully and analyze each alternative in order to avoid the trap of falling victim to a first, second, or third level simulacrum of Çréla Prabhupäda’s genuine spiritual movement.
“I have got this personal experience in my Guru Mahäräja's institution. Different godbrothers took the words of Guru Mahäräja in different interpretations for sense gratification, and the whole mission disrupted. . . I am always afraid of this crack . . .”
Let’s take a look at a couple of these simulacra, i.e., bogus movements of organized religiosity. On one hand, you might get caught up in the fabricated, so-called “ISKCON,” where, by committing to total surrender under the bad guidance of an unqualified man, you get as your “reward” a life of servitude and misery. You are, in other words, chewed up and spit out for your so-called guru’s material enjoyment, without any hope of spiritual progress or enlightenment.
“But, anyway, we should not give up our reason and discriminatory power just to be gentle. One must have good discriminatory power to judge a thing on its merit. We should not follow the mild nature of a woman and thereby accept that which is not genuine.”
“Wait a minute there, slave, are you becoming unhappy that our constant stream of fools might be starting to wise up a bit about the man behind the curtain? Do not worry, we will concoct another change to better fool you! One of our newest concoctions of ecclesiological recrudescence puts the form of the institution above all of its followers’ spiritual freedom.”
Or you can go further downstream and contact web groups, like the one that requests you sign a new constitution, which then supposedly makes everything alright. All problems solved! When are these men going to realize that they are ruining their chances—and their followers' chances--to return home? How can these allegedly learned men, initiated by Çréla Prabhupäda (a pure devotee of Çré Kåñëa), turn out to be so fallen?
Misuse of free will, that's how! They have abused it in the worst way, turning their faces away from the real guru, while falsely claiming to be his representative.
“Those are, therefore, greatly mistaken who are disposed to look forward to the amelioration of the worldly state--in any worldly sense—due to the worldly success of any really spiritual movement. It is these worldly expectants who become the patrons of the mischievous race of the pseudo-teachers of religion, the Pütanäs, whose congenial function is to stifle the theistic disposition at the very moment of its suspected appearance.”
All hope is not lost, fellow travelers, as there is at least one genuine alternative to these pseudo-teachers and imitation schools. It is the Vaishnava Foundation, led by someone who is the real deal. The Vaishnava Foundation will remind you of the real history. You will be reminded that the ISKCON temples in the Sixties were shining transcendental islands, truly Vaikuëöha, and very attractive:
Prabhupäda: No, I am not in hell. I am with the devotees, so how can I say I am in hell? Narottama däsa Öhäkura says, täìdera caraëa sevi bhakta-sane väs: “My duty is to serve my guru and live with the devotees." That is Kåñëa's grace. "My mission is to serve my guru, but live with the devotees. täìdera caraëa sevi bhakta-sane väs janame janame mor ei abhiläñ. This is my desire, life after life." A guru or bhakta does not aspire that he is going to Vaikuëöha, Kåñëa, but their only desire, his only desire, is that to serve the predecessor äcärya and live with devotee. That's all. This is the only ambition . . . the place where the devotees are glorifying the Lord. Kåñëa is there. So, if Kåñëa is there with the devotees, then wherever devotees are there, that is Vaikuëöha. That is Vaikuëöha. Just like our temple. It is Vaikuëöha. Because the devotees are chanting the glories of the Lord, so that is Vaikuëöha. Vaikuëöha is not limited. As Kåñëa can expand Himself, similarly, Vaikuëöha can also be expanded, Våndävana can expand. So wherever there is Kåñëa, that is Vaikuëöha. . . Then, if anyone appreciates Kåñëa everywhere, then he is living in the Vaikuëöha; he is not living in hell or Los Angeles.”
Those temples were attractive, because Kåñëa is all-attractive:
“But this Kåñëa name means 'all-attractive.' He attracts everyone. That is the real name, all-attractive. You have seen Kåñëa's picture. He is attractive to the animals, cows, calves, birds, bees, trees, plants, water, in Våndävana. He's attractive to the cowherds boy. He's attractive to the gopés, He's attractive to Nanda Mahäräja, He's attractive to the Päëòavas. He's still attractive to the whole human society. Therefore, if any particular name can be given to God, that is Kåñëa.”
Çréla Prabhupäda had provided everything to help all of humanity. Anyone could walk into any temple and find Vaikuëöha and easily become attracted to Kåñëa. There was never any need to add or take away from this perfect arrangement. The current arrangements are loaded with deception, but there was no such deception in his temples at the beginning of his movement.
His instructions and vision for his movement went further then the current paltry simulacrum. In 1974, Çréla Prabhupäda was looking out from his room at the ISKCON temple in Mäyäpura when he noticed a group of village children fighting with street dogs over scraps of food. Shocked and saddened by what he saw, Çréla Prabhupäda turned to his disciples and said, "Imagine how hungry they are . . . God is the Father. Wherever there is the Father, the children should not be hungry. A temple therefore means free food distribution . . .No one within a ten- mile radius of our temples should go hungry . . . I want you to begin distributing food immediately."
Because of inaction concerning this order and the unauthorized actions of his so-called disciples after Çréla Prabhupäda passed, the whole world is suffering. At the Vaishnava Foundation, we are blessed with the association of a highly intelligent disciple of Çréla Prabhupäda, Kailäsa Candra däsa. If any of us have difficulties, we are able to speak freely with him during a weekly conference and find help to resolve those problems. The Vaishnava Foundation does not have a fancy temple, but all of the members are engaged in studying Çréla Prabhupäda’s original books. Our services vary according to our nature, and no member imitates the service of another member:
“It is better to engage in one's own occupation, even though one may perform it imperfectly, than to accept another's occupation and perform it perfectly. Prescribed duties, according to one's nature, are never affected by sinful reactions.”
There will be no reform of “ISKCON.” There is no genuine Rittvik alternative anymore—that system has not been viable since November of 1977. And there are not genuine gurus anymore to be found in any of these deceptive splinter groups, such as “ISKCON,” Neo-Mutt, and Rittvik. However, anyone can still be properly guided by Çréla Prabhupäda, for he is the çikñä guru of any sincere individual who is seeking self-realization and God consciousness, and he can certainly guide you back home.
To the other groups we say: Stop deceiving us!
The true guru's guidance is particularly available by reading Çréla Prabhupäda’s books. This article is an invitation to any sincere devotee to contact the Vaishnava Foundation. You will find encouragement and enlightenment by hearing from us. You will not be deceived. You will understand the accurate history of “ISKCON” and how it has affected the present situation. Hare Krishna!
Quotes from the books of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada are copyright by the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust